Being Bertus Basson

 Being Bertus Basson

In his second book, acclaimed South African chef Bertus Basson provides a deeper look into his restaurants and his food philosophy. Rooted in local food culture and the culinary experiences of his childhood, his menus are driven by fresh ingredients and seasonal produce.

In ‘Being Bertus Basson’, readers will feel the drive and energy of this whirlwind of a man, showcasing his originality of thought. The book offers inspiration to those who wonder just how Bertus and his remarkable wife have so successfully built a restaurant empire. It presents an inside look into these restaurants from the story of the beginnings and growth of the signature restaurant Overture to Bertus Basson at Spice Route, wildly popular with the tourist crowds, and Spek & Bone, the small-plate wine bar in Stellenbosch, through to his love affair with burgers and just how De Vrije Burger was conceptualised and brought to life.

The recipes will surprise you with their simplicity and quirkiness and show you just how to step beyond the usual and how to look at food in a whole new light.

This lovely book is published by Jacana Media and is available from all good book stores.


Let’s cook!

Lamb & Boontjie Bredie

Main ingredients:

500g lamb rib, blocked

500g lamb shin, sliced

Salt and pepper

A little oil


For the Spice mixture:

45g cinnamon sticks

60g chili flakes

45g cumin seeds

45g coriander seeds

15g cloves

10 bay leaves

30g black pepper corns


For the Bredie:

3 onions, roughly diced

2 garlic cloves, sliced

1 tbsp ginger, sliced

1 x 440g tin whole,

Peeled tomatoes

Salt and pepper

6 medium carrots, peeled and chunked

600g green beans, shredded

5 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered



It is important to remember that a bredie is not a stew. It is drier, spicier, cooked slower and is usually paired with a vegetable.

Season the meat with salt and pepper to taste at least 30 minutes before you start cooking. You need to brown it in batches in a large pot, making sure to render as much fat as possible from the ribs. Remove the meat from the pot with a slotted spoon, leaving the juices behind. We always make enough spice mixture for a week at a time and keep it in an airtight container. Halve the recipe if you want to make less. You can do it before the next stage of cooking so the spices are fresh and pungent.

Dry roast all the spices together in a pan until they become fragrant. Cool them and run the mixture through a spice blender to get a fine powder you can work with.

Heat the pot with the lamb juices over a gentle heat and slowly sweat the onions, garlic and ginger. Add 2 heaped tablespoons of the ground spices and sweat this with the onions. Now add the tomato, season with salt and pepper to taste, and reduce for a few minutes.

Remove as much of the spicy onion and tomato solids as possible from the pot and reserve. Pack the meat back into the liquid in the pot and cover with the spicy onion mixture. Close and cook over a low heat for 3 hours, checking occasionally.

You should not need to add any additional liquid, but if you do, add only a little water at a time. Don’t stir. 30 minutes into cooking pack the carrots in a layer on top of the onions. 2 hours into cooking pack in a layer of green beans and a layer of potatoes. The potatoes should take 45 minutes to be ready. We are looking for tender, succulent lamb that is falling off the bone.


Ingredients for the Salsa verde:

Bunch Italian parsley

Handful basil

Handful mint

Handful coriander

2 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 whole chilli

1 clove garlic

10 g capers

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

180ml olive oil

Salt and pepper



For the salsa verde, wash and dry the herbs and pick the leaves from their stalks. Use a blender to blend into a coarse paste and season with salt and pepper to taste.

All the moisture from the vegetables will help in keeping liquid in the pot. Don’t stir! (I am saying it twice. I know you want to.)

Serve with a spoonful of salsa verde and steamed rice.


Serves 6