Skilpadjies (tortoises) are a fireside favourite in Mzansi. Errieda du Toit, fondly known as the “Huiskok”, shares this recipe from her 10th published cookbook Share, an ode to community and the culture of recipe sharing.
Skilpadjies are named as such because of they resemble the shape of a tortoise. They are traditionally made with caul (or “netvet”), the lacy, fatty membrane around the intestines of livestock. This is an almost forgotten delicacy in our food history.
While you may find them readily made in a supermarket, Du Toit says making this recipe from scratch is totally worthwhile!
1 lamb’s caul
1kg lamb’s liver, cleaned
100g kidney fat
1 slice bread, crumbled
1ml grated nutmeg
Pinch of dried cloves
1 small onion, finely chopped
2,5ml chopped fresh thyme
30ml brown vinegar
30ml Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
- Rinse the caul in hot water. If it is hard, soak it in water until soft.
- Cut the liver and kidney fat into very small cubes or mince them.
- Soak the breadcrumbs in the milk until soft.
- To make the filling, add the bread mixture to the liver together with the remaining ingredients, except the caul.
- Spread open the caul on a chopping board and cut out the thickest fatty parts.
- Using the thinner fatty parts, cut 10cm square “cloths”.
- Place a heaped spoonful of filling onto each piece of caul and wrap the filling in the caul.
- Secure with toothpicks and sew up with coarse thread.
- Braai over moderate coals for 15 minutes until the fat is crispy and golden brown.
Note: It can also be baked in the oven for 30 minutes at 180°C.
Pro Tip: Skilpadjies need something acidic to break through the fat:
- Braai lemon halves over the coals and serve with the skilpadjies.
- Reduce verjuice, a sour green juice made by extracting the juice from unripe grapes, and sprinkle over the cooked skilpadjies.
- Serve with a sauce made with 125 ml good vinegar, 15 ml freshly ground black or white pepper and 30 ml minced shallots or red onion.