Dried meat lovers stand to win R60000 in prizes in an annual competition, which is offered by Stellenbosch Hills wine estate and leading spice supplier Freddy Hirsch, to find South Africa’s champion Droëwors Maker of the Year 2013. Entries close on 2 September.
To launch the competition, and to demonstrate just how much planning and hard work goes into making droëwors, a number of food and wine writers (including TV star Jan Braai, whose programme is sponsored by Freddy Hirsch) was invited to the Freddy Hirsch factory last week. PG Slabbert, Winemaker and Manager at Stellenbosch Hills, led a tasting of the winery’s 1707 Reserve, which is linked to the competition this year. The red wine is made with 56 % Shiraz, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, and 11% Petit Verdot, and spent 24 months in new French and American oak barrels. The 2010 vintage red wine is full-bodied, with flavours of red berry, dark chocolate and cigar box, and sells for R82 at the tasting room. The 2012 white wine in this range is a blend of Chardonnay, Semillon, and Viognier.
Diane Nicolau, Group Marketing Manager of Freddy Hirsch, gave the background to the competition, given that red wine and biltong (last year’s challenge) and droëwors go well together. Stellenbosch Hills has a Biltong & Wine Adventure tasting option at its cellar. Both the wine estate and the spice supplier have blending at the core of their businesses. Slabbert said: ‘The art of spicing and drying meat nowadays is as specialised as the art of winemaking. Our aim was to create a competition where some of South Africa’s favourite products – wine and biltong – could be combined’. Nicolau said that it made sense to partner with Stellenbosch Hills in this competition, marrying wine and droëwors, two South African favourites. Getaway magazine has also got involved in the competition, as a media sponsor, and justified its involvement on the basis of droëwors and biltong being ‘quintessential padkos for South Africans’.
Julie Strydom, the Quality Development Manager at Freddy Hirsch, told us that the spices they buy are all ASTA quality approved, yet they still do quality checks when they arrive, for volatile oil content, contaminants, colour, and various other aspects are tested. The spices go through irradiation treatment when they arrive, to ensure that they are of a perfect quality. The perfect ingredient mix for boerewors and droëwors is ground black pepper, cloves, nutmeg, and coriander. Every day Freddy Hirsch blends 75 tons of spices. We experienced the company’s sensory facility, and we were put to the test, ten of us getting into a booth each, and tasting the droëwors samples and having to rank them in order of preference, and justify the first ranked choice. The samples varied widely, two very dry and hard with a spicy taste (we were told later that they had little fat), and one softer but with less taste. South Africa does not have a sensory facility for wines. We were left with the interesting statement that men are unable to taste bitterness.
Elize de Wit of Freddy Hirsch had prepared the ingredients to make the droëwors, and the trolley contained bowls of spices, including crushed chillies, ground pimento, ground and crushed coriander, and ground nutmeg. Elize has a great sense of humour, and played a trick on us, in having a container with meat pieces she had labelled as donkey, horse, zebra, and beef, the colour of the meats looking very different, and some having a very strong smell. Later on she admitted that all the meat samples were beef, but the ‘zebra’ was in fact pork! She talked us through the essence of making droëwors, to prepare us for making our own. We were allowed to add as many spices as we wanted to, and hinted that a few drops of Stellenbosch Hills red wine would add to the taste. Each one of us received a cooler box with a 1 kg packet of meat and a small packet of fat. She explained that most droëwors is made with a 80% meat/20% fat ‘blend’. She emphasised that the use of ‘body fat’ is ideal, in preference to ‘kidney fat’, which gives one’s palate a furry feel. The meat (she recommended forequarter, and chuck specifically) and the fat is minced with an old-fashioned mincer, twice minced making it even finer. One has the choice of two casings, a natural sheep’s intestine (which they sell at their shop downstairs), or artificial casings. One must cut out the veins and glands before mincing the meat. Alternatively one can buy the ready-minced meat, and get a machine which gets the mince into the casing. This can be quite a tricky and time-consuming job, as one person must turn the handle, and feed the mince into the casing, while another person must hold the machine so that it stands still on the surface. Anel Grobler of Spit or Swallow had fun making her wors! The end result looks less attractive than one is used to seeing when the droëwors has been air dried for three days, going dark in colour once dried.
We were served a light lunch in the staff canteen, and each dish (pizza slices, a cheese pie, bacon rolls, and paté sandwiches) had droëwors in it. The company feels less corporate than one would expect, and some of the passages are named after spices (e.g. Coriander Avenue), with attractive collages of spice photographs.
A number of the food and wine writers were so enthusiastic about their newly gained droëwors making skills that they decided that they themselves would enter the Stellenbosch Hills Freddy Hirsch Droëwors Maker of the Year 2013 competition. Stellenbosch Hills and Freddy Hirsch will alternate the Biltong and Droëwors Maker of the Year competitions annually.
Competition entrants must complete and send in their entry form by 2 September, and send in their sample of 500 gram or more of any meat type by 27 September. The judging will take place in October, and the panel of judges will include Giggling Gourmet Jenny Morris, MasterChef SA finalist Ilse Fourie, Jan Braai, and a representative each of Getaway magazine, Freddy Hirsch, and Stellenbosch Hills. The entrance pack costs R150, and this includes a bottle of Stellenbosch Hills 1707 Reserve, a Freddy Hirsch spice pack, as well as the delivery.
Disclosure: We received two Freddy Hirsch spice packs and took the droëwors which we made home. We also received a bottle each of Stellenbosch Hills 1707 Reserve white 2012 and red 2010.
Stellenbosch Hills, Polkadraai Road, Stellenbosch. Tel (021) 881-3828 www.stellenbosch-hills.co.za Twitter: @STBHills
Freddy Hirsch, corner 11th Avenue and Voortrekker Road, Maitland East, Cape Town. Tel (021) 507-4500 www.freddyhirsch.co.za Twitter: @FreddyHirsch
Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter: @Whale Cottage