What makes a bredie a bredie and not just a plain old casserole or stew? It’s all in the spices. Tomato bredie is traditionally made with lamb and, as the name suggests, loads of tomato. But the aromatics are what makes it the real deal – perfumed ginger and cardamom, earthy cloves, heady cinnamon and a bit of chilli cheek. Nine times out of ten I’d make it with lamb. But because my local Pick ’n Pay had fabulously thick slabs of beef short rib on special I could not resist.

I knew short rib is plenty rich enough to act as a foil for all that tomato tartness. This recipe is an adaptation of Dine van Zyl’s tomato bredie from her brilliant cookbook, Boerekos. I tampered with it some – fresh tomatoes instead of tinned, less puree, no potatoes and I simplified the cooking method a bit. But the spicing is all hers, and it’s spot on. A glass or two of Shiraz (see my wine choice lower down), a few good friends around the table and I’m in mid-winter slow food heaven.

All you need is…

700g ripe fresh tomatoes
1kg beef short rib
1 Tbs olive oil
1 large onion, very finely chopped
1 Tbs flour
1½ tsp finely grated fresh ginger
1 green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 cup tomato puree (NOT tomato paste! Woolworths stocks a handy 240g tub which is just enough)
½ cup water
5 cardamom pods, roughly bashed to crack open
7 whole cloves
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
3 bay leaves (I prefer using fresh, but dry will do)
1 cinnamon stick

To peel the tomatoes, place them in a large bowl and pour boiling water over to cover completely. Allow to stand for half a minute. Now the skins will slip off easily. Finely chop the peeled tomatoes and put aside. Heat a thick-based frying pan and add the olive oil. Give the short rib a few generous twists of salt and fry until caramelised. Remove browned short rib and place in an oven-proof dish casserole with a tight-fitting lid. Fry onion in the same pan over gentle heat until it starts to soften. Add the ginger and chilli and fry for a further minute. Add the flour and stir in until it disappears completely. In go the tomato puree, fresh chopped tomatoes and half a cup of water to the pan. Stir to lift off any delicious caramelised bits sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Add the rest of the ingredients to the pan and simmer for a few minutes. Pour this sauce over the short ribs, place the lid on and bake in a low and slow 160 degree Celsius oven until the meat is fall-off-the-bone soft. It takes about two and a half hours. Taste for salt and adjust as needed – it probably will need a bit. Serve this short rib tomato bredie with mashed potatoes or samp (I adore any corn-based starch with rich beef stews). I decided to honour my Italian gran, and served mine with polenta for an Italy-meets-SA feast.




30 min


2+ hrs


tips, tricks and trivia

Using oxtail instead of short rib

If you love oxtail, try that with this recipe instead of the short rib. It is more than rich enough to stand up to the tomatoes and spices.


Going really traditional with lamb

If you want to make a classic tomato bredie, nix the short rib and use lamb knuckle or neck instead. Also pop in peeled potatoes. And serve the lot with white rice. Meat, rice and potatoes – it’s about as traditional Saffa as you can get!

enjoy with

It anybody knows what they’re doing with Shiraz, it’s the folks from Zandvliet in the Robertson Valley. Known as the home of Shiraz, Zandvliet was indeed one of the first estates to bottle Shiraz, with first plantings of this variety stretching all the way back to the 1870s. The Zandvliet Estate Shiraz is a 100% Shiraz, with a ripe complex nose that shows notes of plum, blackcurrants and pepper with hints of mixed spice. It translates into a complex, supple palate with hints of lovely dark chocolate. It was matured in seasoned French and American oak barrels for 18 to 24 months.

Retailing at the R130 per bottle mark, this is a wonderful special-meal kind of wine and a perfect match for the highly aromatic spice notes of my short rib tomato bredie.



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