Frikkadel are a lightly spiced South African meatball that are often served with a sweet and herby tomato sauce, making a wonderfully comforting dinner that pairs perfectly with a South African Cabernet Sauvignon.
During our recent trip to South Africa, we fell in love with their wine, so much so that we wanted to share what we learned with the Wine Pairing Weekend Group. So today, we’re celebrating South African wine and wine pairings. Be sure to read to the end to see what the other members of the group tasted and paired!
The meal that we are sharing really captures some important elements of South Africa’s history. Let’s take a look!
The meatballs tell a story
The Dutch played a huge role in the colonization of South Africa, starting in the 1600s, and you can see the strong Dutch influence in these Frikkadel.
Frikadeller or frikadellen is the term for small, pan-fried, meat patties that are popular in Germany and the Netherlands (and other European countries). These simple meat patties have a short list of ingredients and are minimally seasoned. They are typically served as a main dish with potatoes and gravy.
Frikkadel: South African Meatballs
You can see the ways the Dutch influence has evolved in the present day culture of South Africa by the way these meat patties have evolved and taken on new flavors.
In South Africa, these Dutch meat patties take on Indian and Indonesian spices as they meet with the Cape Malay influence. Corriander, turmeric, and cloves give the frikkadel a deeper, more robust flavor.
One thing that is very unique about the South African frikkadel is the use of soaked white bread as a binder. While we may think of adding breadcrumbs to our meatballs, the soaked white bread adds a soft quality to the texture of the frikkadel, keeping them incredibly tender and juicy.
Sheba Sauce: So much more than tomato sauce
South African frikkadel are most often served with mashed potatoes or rice and a tomato sauce, called sheba sauce.
While we may think of meatballs paired with a robust, herby, Italian tomato sauce, sheba sauce is much sweeter and more subtle than a classic Italian tomato sauce.
Using diced tomatoes and onions, this sauce is incredibly chunky. It gains a sweetness from the onions and the addition of sugar, and it is rounded out with the light addition of herbs.
It is a beautiful sauce for pairing with nearly any meat, from poultry to beef, and makes a great sauce for potatoes or rice. While on safari, we had a tasty dish of grilled lamb and potatoes accompanied by sheba sauce, and we knew we needed to recreate the sauce when we returned home.
We absolutely loved the way the sauce complemented the flavors of the frikkadel. One bite and we were instantly transported back to our time in South Africa!
Guardian Peak: Frontier Cabernet Sauvignon
We made this meal to pair with a Guardian Peak Frontier Cabernet Sauvignon that we were given during our time on safari. Guardian Peak was the house wine were we stayed, at Motswari Private Game Reserve, and we thoroughly enjoyed many of their wines while we were there.
Guardian Peak is a wine estate in the Stellenbosch region of South Africa. Their goal is to strike a balance of the “Old World” and “New World” of wine styles to create wines that are easily accessible and very enjoyable to a range of palates.
Their Frontier Cabernet Sauvignon was incredibly juicy, like many of the Stellenbosh wines we tasted. We love this fruity quality about South African wines, and we picked out distinct notes of black cherry and blackberry in this Cabernet. The wine was dry, but it had a nice, balanced acidity that created an incredibly smooth finish.
The dryness of the wine paired incredibly well with the beef meatballs and the sweetness and acidity of the sheba sauce brought out the wine’s fruit notes. All in all, it was quite a successful pairing that instantly transported us back to our time exploring the Stellenbosch region.
South African Frikkadel
- Tear the slices of bread and place them in a bowl. Cover the bread with water and set aside to soak.
- In a medium skillet, heat the butter. Add the onion and garlic and sauté over medium high heat until golden, 5-6 min. Remove the onion mixture from the pan and set aside.
- In a large bowl, combine ground beef with the seasonings. Squeeze the soaked bread as dry as you can get it and add it to the beef mixture along with the egg. Mix well, using your hands. Shape the meat mixture into balls, using roughly 2 Tbsp of meat for each. Place the shaped meat onto a plate and flatten the balls slightly.
- Heat the skillet over medium heat and fry the meat patties 5-6 minutes on the first side and 3-5 minutes on the second side, until golden and firm.
- Remove the patties from the skillet onto a clean, paper towel lined platter. Continue until all the frikkadel have been cooked.
- Serve the frikkadel with mashed potatoes and sheba sauce (see recipe below).
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 onions, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 tomatoes, diced (or 2-14.5 oz cans, slightly drained)
- 1 Tbsp fresh oregano, chopped, or 1 tsp dry
- 1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped, or 1 tsp dry
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp sugar
- Heat the butter in a large skillet. Add the onions and garlic. Sauté over medium high heat until the onions have softened, 3-4 minutes.
- Add the remaining ingredients, stir and bring the mixture to a simmer.
- Cook, uncovered, 15-20 minutes until the sauce has thickened slightly.
- Sheba sauce makes a great accompaniment to mashed or boiled potatoes, rice, chicken, or any red meat.
And now, on to more great South African Wine Pairings!
- Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla: Bunny Chow & A Pinotage
- Sarah and Tim from Curious Cuisiniere: Frikkadel with Sheba Sauce and a South African Cabernet Sauvignon
- Jennifer from Vino Travels: South African Chenin Blanc with Shrimp Scampi
- Michelle from Rockin Red Blog: #WinePW Explores South African #Wine ~ A Whale’s Tale
- Nancy from Pull That Cork: Waterkloof Cape Coral Rosé and BLT
- David from Cooking Chat: Turmeric Spiced Steak and South African Wine Pairings
- Christy from Confessions of a Culinary Diva: Tasting South African Food & Wine
- Gwendolyn from Wine Predator: Food with spice and wine that’s nice!
David of Cooking Chat started this event in June of 2014, and every month since then this group of wine and food lovers have had a great time! For more background, check out the original post announcing Wine Pairing Weekend. You can see the full list of past and upcoming #winePW events here.