Bobotie

My wonderful son-in-law is South African, and I asked his advice about bobotie. He said that there are many variations of it, but I tried out this one and we all love it.

Pronounced ba-boor-tea, the national dish of South Africa is a delicious mixture of curried meat and fruit with a creamy golden topping, not dissimilar to moussaka.

Serves 6.

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tart apple, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger (1 1/2-inch piece)
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Madras curry powder
  • 2 pounds ground lamb (or hamburger)
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds (1 ounce), toasted
  • 4 slices white or wheat bread, crusts removed
  • 1 3/4 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons apricot preserves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 4 fresh or dried bay leaves
  • Accompaniments, such as cilantro sprigs, lemon or lime wedges, mango chutney, sliced banana, and unsweetened coconut flakes
  • Aromatic Basmati Rice with golden raisins, for serving

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil, then onions, apple, and ginger; season with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are golden brown and tender, about 15 minutes. (Reduce heat if vegetables brown too quickly.) Add turmeric and curry powder to onion mixture; stir to combine. Add lamb, and cook, breaking up large pieces with a wooden spoon, until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Stir in almonds, and cook for 2 minutes more.
  2. Tear bread into large pieces, and place in a small bowl. Add 1/4 cup milk and 1/2 teaspoon salt, and let stand until milk is absorbed. Add bread mixture to lamb, and cook, stirring frequently, until bottom of pan begins to brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in apricot preserves and lemon juice, scraping up browned bits from bottom. Remove from heat, and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Spoon lamb into a 6-cup shallow baking dish. Whisk eggs, nutmeg, lemon zest, and remaining 1 1/2 cups milk in a medium bowl. Pour over lamb. Place bay leaves in dish, pressing into filling. Bake until set around edges and center is no longer runny, 35 to 45 minutes. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving. Serve with desired accompaniments and rice.

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