Canned fondue
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Braai – Reuben on Fire

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Braai – Reuben on Fire


Canned fondue

Recipe By Reuben Riffel
Photographs By Craig Fraser


¾ cup good-quality port
4 tbsp witblits
2 tbsp corn flour
3 cups grated cheddar
2 cups creamy blue cheese, crumbled
Few slices day-old artisanal bread
1 cup baby tomatoes
1 cup gherkins
1 cup pickled onions
½ red chilli, finely chopped
6 rashers bacon, cooked until crisp and finely chopped
½ cup dry biltong, finely chopped

I have a Venezuelan and the French nation in general to thank for the idea behind this dish. The Venezuelan worked with me in the kitchen of Bruno’s Brasserie in Cambridge. It was a real multi-racial, multi-cultural kitchen and everybody had a chance to cook staff food. This guy came from a wealthy background and on one occasion I charged him with making staff food. He went into the fridge, collected all the bits of cheese and made this, which, while a little extravagant at the time, was one of the better staff meals.

Whenever I eat something, when it’s good, and I mean very good, I wonder how I can make it better. In principle, it’s based on something the French do. They take any of their cheeses that come in a box (typically Brie or Camembert), cut them open, put in some garlic, herbs and wine and toss them in the oven to incubate. In this case, we’re using Le Braai. When you know the braai is still going to take a while, this – the perfect mix between crudités and fondue – is a good time- and hunger-filler.

To the pot you add cheese, wine, spices and – if you like a kick as I do – chilli. For the receptacle, you don’t want to use your wife’s beautiful pots and pans, and a potjie is too big. Old tomato cans, especially the 410g ones, are perfect for your braaidue. Fondue can have a very uppity reputation and this just brings it deliciously down to earth. My wife Maryke likes to pack a platter with pickles and other dip-friendly things. The idea is to have a platter with your cheese melted in the blikkie and then an assortment of bites from pickled onions to innocent healthy cucumber to dip in cheese and roll in chopped biltong. You get that freshness, the crunch, the lekker cheesiness and other great flavours. This is a dish that you can’t order anywhere, even though your guests will try to order more and it’s probably the fanciest braai canapé you’ll ever make.

It’s important to watch the temperature here. Once the cheese burns slightly, it will mess up the flavour. Fresh chopped chillies or crushed toasted nuts can be added on the side.

Cooking Instructions

  1. Place a medium-sized can on medium-high-temperature coals. Add the port and reduce by a third. Mix the witblits with corn flour to create a slurry.
  2. The coals will now be slightly cooler. Add the cheese, a handful at a time, and stir continuously to ensure the cheese melts evenly. Once melted, add the slurry and stir continuously until the corn flour has cooked and the mixture is the consistency of a thick white sauce.
  3. Toast the bread on a grid over the coals. Skewer the tomatoes and pickles.
  4. Garnish the cheese mixture with chilli. Serve with sides of bacon, biltong, tomatoes, gherkins, pickled onions and toast. This is perfect as a starter but can be elaborated with more sides to serve as a main course.

About the Author

There can be no doubt about the fact that Reuben Riffel is one of South Africa’s most well-known and acclaimed chefs. With no less than five restaurants in his stable (Reuben’s in Franschhoek, Reuben’s at the Robertson Small Hotel, Reuben’s at the One & Only in Cape Town, Reuben’s at Abalone House in Paternoster and finally Racine in Franschhoek), Reuben has also become a household name as the face of Robertsons Herbs & Spices and his recent role as a MasterChef South Africa judge. This award-winning chef is also father to four cookbooks: Reuben Cooks: Food is Time Travel, Reuben Cooks Local (also published by Quivertree and winner of Best Chef’s Cookbook and photography respectively at the World Gourmand Awards in 2009 and 2012), Braai: Reuben on Fire (published by Quivertree and second-place winner of the Sunday Times Cook Book of the Year award 2014) and finally Reuben at Home. Key to Reuben’s success is his unsurpassed ability to marry South African and international cuisines via an eclectic but unpretentious approach, using only the best seasonal ingredients.

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