South African Game Recipes

South Africa is a country that is renowned for its wild animals. For this reason it has also become a country that is also renowned for its South African game recipes. Some of these go back centuries to when the first European settlers arrived in SA, and they cooked whatever wild game they could find. Generally today, though, South African game recipes are for "venison", which is a broad term for any type of buck or deer. If you can't find wild buck or deer, then you could use the South African game recipes we have collected for you to cook beef, mutton or even pork, even though it won't taste quite the same. Venison is generally a richer, more flavoursome meat than meat from animals that have specifically been reared for the pot.

The first South African game recipes
While there were indigenous people in South Africa before the early Cape settlers arrived in the 17th century, it was only from the time that the Dutch East India Company established a trading post at what is now Cape Town that food production began. It is recorded that the local Hottentot people (known as Strandlopers or beach-walkers) were of little help when it came to the supply of food because they lived entirely on shellfish and veldkos (field-food, which includes numerous wild, edible plants). Commander Jan van Riebeeck established the company's gardens (which still exists, but now as an open park, although the herb garden is still there). He also had numerous fruit trees and berries planted - and of course grapes.

The early Dutch settlers brought chickens and pigs from abroad, and bartered for cattle with the Hottentots who lived further north, near what is today Saldanha Bay. They began breeding sheep and hare on Robben Island, which later became the site of one of the world's most famous prisons. In addition, those in command also reportedly ate seagulls, penguins (and penguin eggs), and dassies (also called rock rabbits). Van Riebeeck has said to have compared dassie meat with young sucking pigs, only better.

While game roamed freely throughout the Cape Colony, the early settlers did not have the firearms to go hunting. But later settlers, and those who moved to the Boland (just inland from Cape Town) to farm, did hunt game. In her diaries, Lady Anne Barnard, wife of the colonial secretary at the Cape during the British Occupation towards the end of the 18th century, describes wedding feasts and dinner parties and receptions held in the grand halls at the Castle and at Groot Constantia; and roast venison was commonly on the menu.

Contemporary game recipes
We have chosen a selection of recipes that range from the traditional, to popular BBQ recipes that call for venison to be cooked in a cast iron pot. We have also included mock venison stew and recipes that may be adapted for wild pig and even kangaroo. We hope you will enjoy our collection of South African game recipes.

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