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World Cup Eats: South African Street Food (at home)

Since the beginning of the World Cup I’ve learned a lot about South African food – it turns out South Africa is quite known for their street vendors, so it’s a particular shame that they aren’t allowed to sell their wares within a 100 meter radius of the soccer stadiums. (World Cup official sponsors have exclusive rights.)

Food prepared and sold from carts and catering trucks is really taking off in North America, especially in larger centres – LA in particular is a hotbed for gourmet food trucks, but recently the first bustaurant opened-a converted double decker bus-selling South African street food.

Sosatie (pronounced: ‘soss-sartie’) is a kind of grilled meat on a stick – similar to satay – it fits right in with the Southern African love of barbecue (referred to as “braai”). I came across this recipe made with marinated chunks of pork tenderloin and chunks of lamb, alternating with bacon pieces and whole dried apricots. I swapped chicken thighs for the lamb, and streamlined the whole marination process. Everyone went mad for them. The marinade (which is then cooked down and brushed on as they cook on the grill) seems involved, but isn’t really. My husband declared these the best kabobs he’s ever eaten, and that’s saying a lot. The combination of meat, chewy-sweet apricots and crisp onions interspersed with bits of bacon is brilliant.

Pork and Chicken Sosatie with Apricots & Onions

Africa’s version of barbecued meat on a stick goes by the Afrikaans name sosatie. It’s great made with pork and chicken thighs, pork and lamb, or just one of the above. Adapted from Bon Appétit.

1 pork tenderloin, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 lb skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 Tbsp (packed) dark brown sugar, divided
1 Tbsp plus 1/2 tsp curry powder
2 tsp coriander seeds (optional)
1 tsp salt
2 large onions, peeled
2 cups dried apricots
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons whipping cream
1/4 cup olive oil
5 bacon slices, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp apricot preserves or marmalade
canola oil, for cooking

Put the pork and lamb in a large bowl; mix 2 tablespoons brown sugar, 1 tablespoon curry powder, the coriander and salt in a small bowl; sprinkle overtop and stir. Slice 1 onion and add to the bowl with apricots, red wine, vinegar, 1/2 cup whipping cream and oil; stir until well combined. Refrigerate for an hour, or up to 24 hours.

Cut the remaining onion in half crosswise, then cut each half into quarters. Separate quarters into individual onion layers; set aside. Place large fine-mesh strainer over large saucepan. Add meat mixture to strainer and allow marinade to drain into saucepan.

Alternate meat cubes, marinated dried apricots, onion pieces, and bacon pieces on metal or soaked bamboo skewers, beginning and ending with meat.

Boil the marinade in saucepan until reduced to generous 1 1/4 cups, about 6 minutes. Whisk in butter, apricot preserves, remaining 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon curry powder, and 2 tablespoons whipping cream. Continue boiling sauce until thickened to sauce consistency, about 2 minutes. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer 1/2 cup sauce to small bowl and reserve for basting kebabs during grilling. Leave remaining sauce in saucepan and set aside for serving.

Prepare barbecue to medium-high heat and brush the grill rack with oil. Grill kebabs 4 minutes, basting with reserved 1/2 cup sauce. Continue grilling kebabs until browned and cooked medium-rare, turning occasionally, 4-5 minutes longer. Meanwhile, place saucepan with remaining sauce on 1 side of grill to rewarm. Transfer kebabs to platter. Brush warm sauce over kebabs and serve.

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