I have a thing for sweet with meat – it’s a particularly South African thing. Take sweet potatoes. They aren’t sweet enough the way nature made them. Oh no, we have to add truckloads of butter and sugar, and roast them slowly to glistening, treacly perfection. So I’m constanty looking for new sweet-with-meat combinations. My latest obsession is fennel. It’s lovely raw in salads but, roasted with olive oil and a generous squirt of maple syrup, it’s a thing of true beauty – and the perfect partner for juicy pork.

All you need is…

For the roast fennel
1 large fennel bulb (or 5 small ones), cut in 5mm slices
1 large red onion, cut in 5mm slices
2 tbs maple syrup
2 tbs olive oil
¼ tsp chilli flakes
½ tsp red wine vinegar

For the pork burgers
800g pork mince
1 slice white bread, crusts cut off, soaked in 3tbs milk
½ clove garlic, crushed
1 small egg
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
4 tbs grated parmesan or pecorino
5 sage leaves, finely chopped (or 1 tbs dry sage)
1 tbs parsley, finely chopped
2 tbs olive oil and 2 tbs butter, for frying
lettuce, to serve
4 bread rolls, to serve

Mix the fennel and red onion with olive oil, maple syrup, vinegar, chilli and a pinch of salt. Roast on a shallow baking tray at 220°C for 20-25 minutes until caramelised. Stir occasionally. In the meantime, assemble your burger mix. Squeeze the bread until dry. Mix it in with the pork, garlic, egg, salt, pepper, parmesan, sage and parsley. Shape into four equal-sized 200g patties and fry in olive oil and butter over a medium heat. Spoon the oil/butter mix over the patties throughout cooking. It keeps the meat super moist.

Pork can be a tricky beast. Unlike beef, it should not be pink but it’s easy to overcook. The minute it’s no longer pink, it’s done. I’ve been conservative with the salt, so you may need to add more at the table. Serve with lettuce and roasted fennel on toasted bread rolls (liberally spread with butter, if you’re feeling naughty).




10 mins


25 min


good to know

Dripping fantastic

My gran used to call it dripping. My doctor calls it suicide. I call it fantastic. If you’re keen to explore the dark side, cook your pork burger in lard. It’s not easy to find – and gets you some strange looks if you ask for it. Especially when you have to explain that it’s pork fat. When I see it, I buy two containers and chuck it in the freezer. It keeps pretty much forever. Next time you make a bredie (casserole), brown your meat in lard instead of olive oil. It gives a wonderful deep, rich basenote to the dish.


Lard, where art thou?

My favourite place for all things pork is Joostenberg Deli on the R304 outside Stellenbosch. For awesome quality and really good prices, it’s worth the 40km run up the N1. That’s if you’re lucky enough to live in Cape Town! They serve a mean breakfast too. With bacon, naturally.

enjoy with

A frightful Francophile, I simply adore rosé. The cloyingly sweet, bright pink, Sparletta-raspberry like efforts of the past have thankfully made way for drier, pale pink wines.

For those of you who haven’t heard, rosé is ‘klaasie’. And it loves pork. At a mid R30 price point, Lourensford‘s The River Garden Rosé boxes above its weight. If you prefer something bigger, a Pinot Noir would work well too.

Lourensford River Garden Rose


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