• Karoo Finger Food: Sheep Tails

    Contributed by

    Justin Bonello


    Cook, traveller, father, husband, filmmaker, gardener... and not particularly in that order. Filmmaker, veteran presenter, author and Head of Production at Cooked in Africa Films, Justin Bonello has worked in the film industry since he was 14 years old and is the co-founder of one of South Africa's leading film production companies. To date he and managing partner, Executive Producer, Peter Gird have produced more than 23 television series broadcast in over 100 countries around the world and they have no plans to stop any time soon. Justin has done the very thing that we all dream of - taking the things he cares most deeply about and making his world revolve around them. His passion for the outdoors and South Africa's untamed beauty is rooted in his childhood where he spent weekends on the Breede River and holidays on the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape. As he grew up, so too did his appetite for good, wholesome, down-to-earth food.
    Published with permission from COOKED IN THE KAROO by Justin Bonello, www.justinbonello.com. Photography Louis Hiemstra and Cooked in Africa films. All rights reserved.

    First things first, you need to get your hands on some tails. If you're in the Karoo this shouldn't be a problem. If you're a city slicker it might be more difficult, so chat to your butcher and order them in advance.

    Then, you'll need:

    Once you've got the tails, it's time to remove the hair and skin. Pour boiling water over the tails, and then peel the hair and skin straight off - it's kind peeling an under-ripe banana, so it take a bit of effort. If the idea of this freaks you out, better ask your butcher to do it for you. Next, clean the tails, pretty much in the same way you would top and tail green beans - cut off any ugly brown parts and rinse the tails under warm water. Place the cleaned tails in a pot and add water - just enough to cover them, sprinkle with flour and add salt and pepper to taste, then let it simmer for about an hour and a half - the tails have lots of muscles and fat and things that need to soften up. Once they feel tender, remove and put into a roasting pan and pop into a preheated oven (180°C) for another two hours. During this cooking time, take it out of the oven every 15 - 20 minutes, stir it around and baste it with the fat that collects at the bottom of the tray. You'll be amazed at how much fat comes out, and if you want to, keep it in a jar to use later (think baked potatoes in sheep fat or as a gravy for your dog's food). Once the tails are caramelised, golden brown and sticky (and look a bit like Dracula's fingers), they're ready, so take them out of the oven (or AGA if you're lucky) and tuck in. This is Karoo finger food at it's best. Try it - you'll be surprised how lekker it is!

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