My brother taught me how to make head and feet from scratch. Yes, the head and feet of either a goat, sheep or cow. There’s usually no one on the fence on this one; you either love the delicacy or you find it disgusting. I am strong on ‘Team Head and Feet’ and fellow teammates, I will show you how to make this a dish to remember. Some say women shouldn’t eat head meat, that it’s reserved for men; the ‘heads’ of the household. Never mind that, it’s good meat, trust me.
Step 1 – Clean her up
I have never bought a sheep head in Jo’burg but in Newcastle, there is a really cool butchery that sells the freshest head and feet.
Step 2 – Burn off the fur
My brother says to burn off the fur the same way a ‘s’khothane’ burns an expensive shirt! Obviously, you will do this in a controlled environment where it’s allowed. Unlike a braai fire that’s intense and without flames, you need a fire with flames to quickly burn the fur, but not cook the meat. This shouldn’t take longer than a few minutes.
My nephew can only point over my brother’s shoulder. He knows he shouldn’t get too close to fire.
Step 3 – Scrape the feet
We are halfway there. You need to scrape off the fur that now looks like coal. It’s very easy to do this because it just flakes away. You can use a fork or knife for this. Do a thorough job. If you don’t, you’ll be disappointed when your whole meal tastes like ash with bits of fur stuck between your teeth.
Step 4 – Back to the head
You must be wondering what happened to the head. The head is another procedure altogether. You have to skin the head completely. There’s no short cut there. You must get your hands in there and do it right.
Step 5 – Scrambling the network
Compared to that of a cow, sheep head is quite small and not very meaty so you don’t want to chop it up into little pieces but, what you want to do is remove the brain. Some members of ‘Team Head and Feet’ love the brain. If you fall under this category, then you take the ‘network’ and put it in a small plastic bag so it stays separate from the rest of the meat. For the rest of us; ‘lahla lento’. Rinse the head and cut it in half. If you like, you can leave it whole, well, less the skin and brain.
Step 6 – To the pot!
Put the meat in a large pot with a lot of water. Add two tablespoons of crushed garlic, a quartered onion and salt. Now, this cooks for at least 3 hours. If, like me, you like the feet cooked so thoroughly that the meat literally slides off the bone, then 3 and a half to 4 hours should do it. I feel so bad for you if you will cook this on an electric stove. The other option is to go back to that fire you used to burn the fur and load more wood.
Step 7 – Prepare to feast
My mom has got everyone at home on raw vegetables like our lives depend on it. Throw in some raw carrots and red cabbage. She taught me how to make this spicy fried potato, onion and brinjal mix. It’s divine! Serve with a bowl of broth and add a portion of pickled chillies. You are good to go.
Step 8 – Add family, friends and enjoy!
You don’t need me to tell you that by now, your pap or ‘ujeqe’ should be ready. This is a big meal, you better hope everyone brings an empty stomach. Enjoy! Never say the blog didn’t teach you anything.