In a world of uncertainty, I have never been disappointed by mieliepaptert. It’s an almost foolproof dish. You start off by making mieliepap, already a great meal on its own. Then you just add some bells and whistles to make it even better – almost like buying a great new car and then adding all the optional extras. Assembling the mieliepaptert in layers is essentially like making a lasagne, just with entirely different ingredients. Serves 8.
For the stywepap:
- 3 cups water
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cups maize meal
For the mieliepaptert:
- 2 tots olive oil
- 1 onion (finely chopped)
- 1 packet (200–250 g) smoked streaky bacon (sliced into chunks)
- 400–500 g mushrooms (sliced)
- 1/2 tsp salt (the bacon is already salty)
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 can creamed sweet corn
- 2 cups grated Cheddar cheese (about 200 g)
- 2 cups cream (2 × 250 ml tubs)
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
Make the stywepap:
- Add the water and the salt to a pot and get the water boiling over a hot fire (or stove).
- When the water in the pot boils, stir in the maize meal using a wooden spoon. It should take you between 1 and 2 minutes to mix it in properly.
- Put the lid on the pot and let it simmer for 25 minutes on very low heat. On a fire, this means removing the pot from the flames and placing it on a few coals.
- You can check on the porridge (or pap) once or twice during this time to make sure it’s simmering (boiling is too hot; standing still is too cold), but don’t lift the lid too often as too much water will then escape in the form of steam. After 25 minutes the porridge will be ready.
- You can now enjoy the porridge as is, but to use it in mieliepaptert you need to take it off the fire and let it cool down in the pot – we’re looking for a solid piece of pap that we can slice.
Make the mieliepaptert:
- Take the cooled stywepap out of the pot in one piece, and cut into 1 cm-thick slices, as you would do with bread.
- Put the pot back on the fire. Add the oil, onion, bacon and mushrooms. Fry for about 10 minutes until the onion turns a golden brown colour. Season with salt and pepper.
- Take the pot o the heat and pour the contents into a bowl. In the empty pot, start layering the paptert with a layer of sliced pap (place a few slices of pap loosely next to each other, but not too tightly). Follow with a layer of onion/bacon/mushrooms, a few spoonfuls of sweet corn and some grated Cheddar. Then another layer of pap, and so on. You should have about 2–3 layers (but this is not an exact science) of each, finishing with some cheese.
- Pour the cream over the top layer (it will sink in), and finish with some thyme leaves.
- Put the lid back on. Put the pot over some coals (not too hot) and also put some hot coals on top of the lid. Cook for 30 minutes until the meal is simmering and the cheese is nice and brown. The cream sauce will thicken on standing, so leave it to rest for 10–15 minutes before serving.
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