What is a shepherd’s pie + quiche but a “piche”? A bobotie is a cross between a shepherd’s pie and a quiche which aptly describes this dish from South Africa, with the savoury flavours of a shepherd’s pie and the silky eggy goodness of a quiche. Both are pies, to be sure, and the bobotie (boh-boh-tee?) gets its brilliant yellow hue from the turmeric and curry powder (I didn’t have garam masala). The spices, however, were balanced and flavourful without being overpowering. It was just too sweet to my liking (4 tablespoons of orange preserves. I didn’t have any apricot). And it was too salty for Andy–my adding salt was over compensation for the sweetness. I should have used lemon or lime juice to create some tart notes to balance the sweet and the salt.
Bobotie (adapted from Chef Aliya LeeKong, Food Network)
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Resting time: 10 minutes
Special Equipment: 2 quart oven-ready dish, large roasting pan with deep sides
1 slice white bread or brioche (I used multigrain bread)
2/3 cup milk (whole or low-fat)
2-3 tablespoons rice bran oil (can use vegetable)
1 large onion, finely chopped
1-2 green chilies, chopped (seeds removed, if desired)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon minced ginger (to taste)
3-4 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon each of turmeric, ground cumin, ground coriander, paprika (hot or sweet, is up to you)
1/4 teaspoon each of cayenne pepper, ground garam masala (I used curry powder)
Freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds ground meat or a mixture of beef, pork, and veal
2-4 tablespoons apricot or orange preserves
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 plum tomato, seeds removed, coarsely chopped
4 eggs beaten
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream (I used 3/4 cup milk + 2 tablespoons cornstarch)
Large pinch of salt
Scallions, sliced, for garnish (optional)
Heat oven to 350˚F/175˚C. Adjust the oven rack to the middle of the oven.
Place bread in a small bowl and pour in 2/3 cup of milk. Let sit until ready to used. Turn to coat both sides. Set aside.
Heat a large skillet or wok over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil, onions, chilies, ginger, and a light sprinkling of salt to draw out the water. Sauté 4-5 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Add garlic and spices and saute 30 seconds until you can smell the garlic. If the garlic begins to brown, add 1 tablespoon water.
Increase heat to medium high and push the vegetables to one side of the skillet or wok. If the pan is very dry, add the remaining tablespoon of oil. Brown the ground meat, 3-4 minutes, breaking up the large pieces as it cooks. Add 2 tablespoons of the preserves, vinegar, and tomato. Be cautious adding the preserves. Taste. If not sweet enough to your taste, add more. Season with salt. Lower heat and simmer, uncovered, 15-20 minutes for flavours to develop. Taste and adjust seasoning. I added a dash of fish sauce for the umami. Off the heat and let cool.
Wring out the excess milk from the bread, crumble it over the meat mixture. Mix in thoroughly. Taste, and if necessary, season again. Instead of adding more preserves or salt, add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice and taste. See how it tastes, then add more preserves and salt, but be moderate. Scrape meat mixture into a 2 quart baking dish. Smooth the top and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine 4 eggs, 3/4 cup cream or milk, 2 tablespoons cornstarch (if using milk) and a pinch of salt. Whisk vigorously to incorporate the cornstarch, if using. Pour the egg mixture on top of the meat mixture. No need to mix it in. Put the dish inside the roasting pan. It should fit with enough space around all sides. Put the pan in the oven and carefully pour hot water around the dish until it comes halfway up the sides of the baking dish.
Bake 25-30 minutes or until the custard is just set. It shouldn’t be liquid in the middle; but it should jiggle a bit in the center. Take the pan out of the oven and let the bobotie sit in the water bath 10 minutes to firm up after baking. Remove the baking dish from the water bath and cool slightly. Sprinkle sliced scallions on top if you wish. Spoon it out onto a plate and eat with a large green salad, and some chopped chilies if your partner likes bobotie with his chilies.