What the Boers Ate
 Both On- and Off-Commando

The recipes are for information purposes only. The use of common sense and good judgement is advised.  Don't pick and eat wild mushrooms without the guidance of a known expert, don't ever eat arum lilies -- even when cooked.

Motherís Marvellous Marinated Leg of Venison

Naturally, the Boers ate a lot of venison while on commando. Boers always liked to hunt. In fact, they liked it so much, that commandant-general Piet Joubert and other officers frequently had to reprimand the commando members for "wasting ammunition" by hunting between battled!

The following recipe is a very successful one. It is a modern one, but the principles were the same back in the olden days. Iím including it here because over the years so many people have complained that they "donít know how to cook venison." This recipe was used by my mother many, many times over and is alway a winner. 

Remember with venison it is important to always try and remove as much "binding tissue" or connective tissue as possible. These usually contain substances that may sometimes taste a little "wild." The marinating process should remove most of this gamy taste, however.

Also remember that old animals, or those that had been wounded or running a lot before being killed, tend to taste awful. Make sure that the meat has preferably hung for at least a day, or even longer if the weather is cold. This results in a more tender meat with better flavour. Game liver, on the other hand, is best if prepared as fresh as possible.

2 kg. Leg of venison 
3 Garlic cloves, cut in strips


Two average sized carrots, cut in rings
Two average sized onions, cut in slices

30 ml oil
5 whole cloves

2,5 ml each dried thyme, marjoram, sweet basil and tarragon

750 ml red wine
2 bay leaves


250 ml red wine
250 ml marula jelly or youngberry jam
2 ml ground ginger
1 ml ground cloves

salt and pepper


1. Cut small holes in meat and stuff with garlic.

2. Place meat in a container and marinate for at least 8 hours.

3. Turn once or twice

4. Heat oven to 160 degrees C

5. Place meat (still in marinade) in oven, and bake with lid on for two hours.


6. Remove meat from pan.

7. Keep warm and drain liquid from pan through a sieve.

8. Melt 30 grammes of butter in a pot and stir 30 ml flour into it.

9. Allow flout to turn light brown before adding liquids from pan.

10. Then add red wine, marula jelly, spices, salt and pepper.

11. Boil until cooked and like syrup.

12. Serve with vegetables and creamy mash potatoes.

Cooking on commando was not easy, but even with few utensils and a small variety of food, a passable meal could often be concocted, as the Dutch corps illustrates.

Potbrood or "Pot Bread"


1 tsp dry yeast
2 tsp sugar or honey
1 cup milk
3 tbs melted butter
1 kg bread flour
2 eggs
2 tsp salt

Mix sugar and yeast together and add lukewarm milk, butter and 2 Ĺ tbs flour. Allow to stand for 10 minutes until foamy.
Sieve flour and salt together, add the yeast mixture and knead well for 5 to 10 minutes.
Cover the container with a blanket (or plastic wrap in modern times), and allow to rise.
Knead well and place into a cast-iron pot with heavy base.
Cover as before and allow to rise again for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare a hole in the ground, or the clay banks of a river, or a hollowed-out termite mound Ė slightly bigger than the pot. Line the interior with a solid bed of glowing coals.
Nestle pot onto the bed of coals. Spread extra coals across the lid of the pot. Allow to bake for 35 to 40 minutes, depending on the heat of the coals. The hole should be warm enough to burn the hand if held inside for a few seconds. 
The bread will be ready when golden brown on top, and drawing away from the sides. Another test is to tap the top of the bread with a form and listen for a hollow sound.

Serve steaming hot with fresh butter.

Whole Maize Delights

The Boers ate a lot of maize or "corn" on commando. Especially during summer when the cobs would be tender and sweet. Always remember that hard kernels make for bad food. The fresh cob should have tender, juicy seeds that have a soft, milky interior when squashed.

Gekookte Mielies or Boiled Maize Cobs

The whole cob is boiled in slightly salty water until tender. Cobs may be boiled with- or without the outer leaves still attached. Serve hot, with a dab of butter if preferred. The cob is held by the two ends (with a cloth or two forks pressed into the sides if very hot), and rotated as the kernels are eaten off. A most delicious camp treat and a very handy snack or picnic food! Also good when cold.

Gebakte Mielies or Baked Maize Cobs on the Coals

The entire cob is placed onto a bed of campfire coals, still in its jacket of outer leaves. Turn frequently for approximately 20 minutes. Can also be prepared in the oven.

Gebraaide Mielies or Toasted Cobs

Drop a fresh cob of maize with no outer leaves on, onto some cool coals, of which the outer layer of ash had been blown off. Turn frequently to prevent burning the kernels from burning. Some inevitably do burn, but this only adds to the flavour. Toast until golden-brown and highly delicious. Very good hot, and delicious as a cold snack in the saddle bag!

Mieliebrood or Maize Bread

Mieliebrood has always been a very popular and highly traditional dish on Boer farms. It is very easy to make and the recipe can be adapted and changed in a variety of ways. One important principle to remember, though, is that the maize kernels used should always be soft and NEVER hard! Hard kernels are difficult to grind and makes for a very dry product. Use cobs which are still young. The stamens or "beard" should be soft and translucent-green when picked. Canned sweetcorn can be used if fresh maize is not available or if the cook is lazy!


1 lb sweetcorn or cooked, ground fresh maize kernels
1 cup maize meal (preferably coarse)
100 ml cake flour
2 - 3 eggs
2 tbsp melted butter
6 lbs sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt

Pre-head oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
Beat eggs together
Mix rest of ingredients together
Add beaten eggs

Pour mixture into well-greased baking container. For some reason, maize bread was very often baked in washed tin cans. Bread pans or other suitable containers will also do, though.
Bake for approximately 3/4 of an hour.
When ready, the top should be brownish, the fragrance is characteristic, and the bread will be dryish and tend to separate from the walls of the container.

Serve warm with butter, or cold as a snack. Sometimes also eaten warm with butter and syrup or honey.

Relaxing in camp, but with rifles at the ready. In the foreground is a camp kettle and a stone jar of which the lable seems to read "Bols" (brandy).