Saturday 7 February 2015

French-Moroccan Style Food Aboard

The last week saw me yet again playing the sailing instructor to a boat load of young people. Young, healthy people with appetites to match. Put in some physical sailing exercises, anchoring off Grainger Bay for a light lunch, then pulling up the anchor by hand before some more sailing.  Add a dose of the wonderful Cape Town weather at this time of year, and you have five ravenous mouths to feed. Six if you include your favourite sailing instructor.

Not that that is a problem, of course. Part of the course is to do the provisioning planning. This effort naturally includes finding out dietary constraints and then matching the provisions to suit.

In this case we had a crew member not eating red meat. Pork and chicken, yes. But no red meat. Matching this requirement with our standard list of single pot meals could pose a problem. Our food stipend for the week does not amount to much and one does like to keep the food within that budget. Part of learning to make do in a minimalist way.

So boerewors and mash, spaghetti Bolognese and chilli con carne were out of the question. After some deliberation, I remembered that the French has a dish they call cassoulet, made with beans and pork. A stewed dish, eminently suited for preparing on board.  Of course, no proper sailor would go without some spice, so here was some more room for creativity.

The North Africans are famous for their wonderfully flavoured stewed dishes. That gave me the idea of a fusion dish: French-Moroccan style chilli beans and pork. Something away from your standard chilli con carne using beef mince.

For this dish we added some thinly sliced potatoes as starch, thereby making it a one pot dish. The ingredients are kept simple, as we have but a small two-burner gas stove on board and no refrigeration to speak of. A cooler box with ice, I'll have you know. Work space for preparing food is also at a premium.

In addition, I have stopped using cooking oil on board, using butter instead. Partly due to the fire hazard of hot oil on a bouncing and rocking stove, and partly because the butter imparts better flavour. I have also found that people eat smaller portions when I use butter in the cooking. Banting again, no less.

Space is at a premium
You may omit the potatoes in favour of couscous. We did not have any, but it will work well with this dish.

Here the flavours lie in the process as much as in the ingredients. Just mixing it all in and cooking it will not bring out the flavour and you will have a bland dish that burns your tongue.

And thus French-Moroccan style spicy pork stew was born. This quantity will feed six hungry sailors.


750g pork leg chops, cubed to 15mm/½ inch size and trimmed of fat.
1 can red kidney beans
1 can butter beans
1 can baked beans in tomato sauce
1 can whole peeled tomatoes
1 sachet tomato paste
2 medium size fresh tomatoes, coarsely diced
1 onion, chopped
1/3 Green pepper, chopped
2 medium potatoes, sliced to the same thickness as the pork.
1-2 thumbs garlic, chopped and mashed
4 small chillies, finely chopped
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 ½ teaspoon cumin powder
Some salt to taste
Small stove and galley area
Pepper to taste
2 dessert spoons butter for frying.


Heat up the pot or pan that you will be using. Add a little butter. Fry the pork in small batches until they are brown. Set the fried pork aside to rest.
Using the same pot, which will now contain a nice layer of caramelised pork, add some more butter and fry the onions and green pepper until brown. They will pick up the caramelised bits of pork. Add the garlic and chillies and fry them for thirty seconds. Add the dry spices and fry these for fifteen seconds, then add the tomatoes, the potatoes and the pork. Reduce the heat when the the pot starts to boil and simmer until the potatoes are done. Check for sufficient saltiness, the potatoes may make the dish somewhat fresh.
Only then add the beans. Drain the fluid from the kidney- and butter beans. The baked beans go in complete with the tomato sauce. Mix thoroughly. The sauce will thicken substantially towards the end, so do make sure that nothing sticks to the bottom and burns.

Allow the dish to cook through, then take the heat away and allow the dish to rest. This may not be easy, as by now the whole boat or kitchen will be pervaded by a delicious aroma.

Bon appetit!

Authored by Johan Zietsman

Last updated on 2015-02-07

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