Shhh... quiet, here comes the malacca!

Phallic symbol being held by a phallus

The bordello sauce is on its way

Bistrot ambience: oui. Bistrot prices: non!

Tishina nazvaniya yagnyat

Slow-roasted Lamb Shanks: you'll wolf it down!

“Slow food teaches us the things that really matter - care, beauty, concentration, discernment, sensuality, all the best that humans are capable of, but only if we take the time to think about what we're eating.” – Alice Waters.

 

Until about 15 years ago, the only way in which I used lamb shanks was - cut into roundels - in “potjiekos” and curries. Up to then, lamb had been an affordable meat in South Africa, and middle-class consumers were spoilt for choice. Chops and ribs for the braai and a leg for the Sunday roast were the cuts one associated with a sheep. Since then, two developments have altered my attitude towards the humble sheep. Firstly, a combination of drought and market distortion has made lamb a true luxury, and secondly I have discovered the joys of slow food. Nowadays lamb shanks, neck and offal feature regularly on our menu.

Lamb shanks come from the lower end of the leg and are loved for their rich flavor, as well as falling-off-the- bone tenderness after long, slow cooking. Most lamb shanks are sold “French-trimmed”, i.e. all the meat and fat is removed from one end of a bone, making it easier to pick up and more visually appealing. They are also appreciated for the value for money they offer. Although prices have risen as their popularity has increased, they are still one of the cheapest and tastiest lamb cuts.

Regardless of how you cook them, lamb shanks need long, slow cooking. To ensure they have a rich flavour and that the sauce takes on a caramelised meaty flavour, browning the meat first is essential. This simple step will also help seal in the juices and tenderise the meat. Lamb shanks is one of our favourite winter dishes, as they fill the house with their delicious aroma as they simmer away in a terracotta casserole. Here's a recipe that will warm the cockles of your heart and chase any winter blues away.

 

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 3 ½ hours

Serves 4

Tastes best accompanied by a Shiraz

 

4 Lamb shanks, 450 - 500g each

12 Garlic cloves, unpeeled

2 Celery stalks, chopped

2 Large carrots, chopped

2 Onions, cut into chunks

1 Leek, halved and cut into 1cm pieces

1 Bay leaf

1 Sprig thyme

1 Sprig rosemary

3 Cups mutton stock

1 ½ Cups red wine

½ Cup olive oil

4 Tbsp. cake flour

1 Tsp. Whole black peppercorns

Salt to taste

 

  • Pre-heat your oven to 150ºC.
  • Heat the olive oil in a heavy metal roasting pan on the stove over medium-high heat.
  • Toss the shanks with flour to coat them well, then shake off excess.
  • Sear the shanks in the hot oil until well browned on all sides, then remove from the pan and set aside.
  • Add the leek, celery, carrot, onion, and garlic to the roasting pan and cook, stirring, until softened and lightly browned, about 5 minutes.
  • Season with the bay leaf, peppercorns, thyme and rosemary sprigs.
  • Pour in the red wine and stock, increase heat to high, and bring to a simmer.
  • Season to taste with salt, and place the lamb shanks on top of the vegetables.
  • Cover the roasting pan tightly with heavy aluminum foil, and place in the pre-heated oven.
  • Bake gently until the meat is tender, about 2 ¾ hours.
  • Remove the pan from the oven and increase the temperature to 200ºC.
  • Remove the foil, as well as the bay leaf and herb stems, and return the pan to the oven.
  • Roast for another 15 minutes, or until the shanks are nicely browned on top.
  • Keep the shanks warm while you pass the pan juices through a sieve. Discard the stewing vegetables.
  • Reduce the pan juices by half in a saucepan over high heat.
  • Serve the shanks with mashed potato and the sauce, along with vegetables of your choice.

 

“I'm not impressed by cooks who brag about a filet mignon. A guy who can take the neck or a shank and make into something delicious is really interesting to me; that's impressive.” – Anthony Bourdain.

 

Petit Salé: perfect for a Parisian pig-out

"Bistro cooking is good, traditional food, earnestly made and honestly displayed. It is earthy, provincial, or bourgeois; as befits that kind of food, it is served in ample portions." – David Liederman. 

 

I suppose all of us at some point fantasized about being a student at the Sorbonne, living in a small studio apartment on the Rive Gauche and eating in bistrots when we could afford it. The bistrot is a quintessential part of Parisian social life, and has a colourful history. In its original incarnation, it is a small restaurant serving moderately priced, simple meals in an unassuming setting. Bistros are defined mostly by the foods they serve: home-style cooking, and slow-cooked foods like cassoulet and carbonnade are typical. They evolved out of the basement kitchens of Parisian apartment houses, where tenants paid for both room and board. Landlords could supplement their income by opening their kitchen to the paying public. Menus were built around foods that were simple, could be prepared in quantity and would keep over time.

The origin of the term “bistrot” has been the subject of debate for the past 200 years. It is presumed to come from a regional word: bistrot or bistraud, a word in the dialect of the Poitou region, which means a "lesser servant." Another possibility is bistrouille, slang from the north of France for a mixture of brandy and coffee; precisely the kind of beverage often served in bistros. The first recorded use of the word appeared in 1884. A popular etymology of the word claims that it originated among Russian troops who occupied Paris following Napoleon’s capitulation. In taverns they would shout the Russian “bystro!” (“quickly!”) to the waiters, so that "bistro" took on the meaning of a place where food was served quickly. Charming as it is, this theory is suspect, mainly due to the 69-year gap between the proposed origin and the first attestation.

Among the many heart dishes associated with bistrot cuisine is one consisting of pork stewed with vegetables and lentils, called petit sale. The name is the French word for cured pork belly that is boiled rather than fried, and that is lightly salted (“petit sale” literally means “a little salted'). It's a classic of French bourgeois cooking, and slow food of the highest order. The description might sound a little bland, but try this one out on a cold winter’s day (or better still, an evening) and you’ll see why it remains a staple on the Left Bank of the Seine!

Preparation time: 6 hours

Cooking time: 3 hours

Serves 6

Tastes best accompanied by a Cinsaut or Pinotage

 

For the cure

200g Coarse sea salt 

15g Light-brown sugar 

2 Bay leaves 

2 Tsp. juniper berries

1 Tsp. cloves 

1 Tsp. allspice berries 

For the pork

1kg Pork belly, rind on 

8 Black peppercorns

5 Parsley stalks

4 Celery sticks, roughly chopped 

2 Large carrots, roughly chopped 

1 Large onion, roughly chopped 

2 Bay leaves  

For the lentils

250g Puy lentils (or other high-quality green lentils), rinsed 

15g Unsalted butter 

1 Celery stick, diced 

1 Garlic clove, finely chopped 

1 Carrot, peeled and diced 

1 Bay leaf 

1 Sprig of thyme 

½ Onion, finely chopped 

1 Tbsp. flat-leaf parsley, chopped

 

  • To make the cure, put all the ingredients into a food processor and blitz, or pound in a mortar.
  • Rub the mixture into the pork, making sure it is covered all over.
  • Leave the pork to cure for about four hours, then rinse it.
  • Place the pork in a large saucepan with the vegetables, herbs and peppercorns and cover with cold water.
  • Bring slowly to the boil, skim the surface, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for two hours, or until completely tender. Reserve the cooking liquid, but discard the vegetables.
  • While the pork is simmering, melt the butter in a pan and sauté the onion and celery until soft but not coloured.
  • Add the garlic and cook gently for a minute, then add the carrot, bay, thyme, lentils and 600ml (1 pint) of the pork cooking water.
  • Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and cook until the lentils are just tender but still have a little bite, about 15 minutes. Keep an eye on them as they can turn to mush suddenly.
  • Remove the bay leaf and thyme and stir in the parsley. You probably won't need any salt, but add some pepper.
  • Gently reheat the petit salé in its remaining cooking water, then carve it into slices.
  • Serve each person with a pile of lentils topped with a thick slice of petit salé.

 

“I'm Kosher except for when I eat pork and shellfish.” - Roseanne Barr.

 

Rib-Eye Bordelaise: giving the Heart Foundation a heart attack...

“There is only one right way to eat a steak - with greed in your heart and a smile on your face.” – Soumeet Lanka.

 

One of the best meals Jakki and I have ever had was dinner at the landmark Les Arcades restaurant on the Place du Capitole in Toulouse. We had worked up a good appetite sight-seeing in the lovely Pink City, and because it was a sultry July evening we wanted to eat al fresco. What a good choice we made when picking this gem of an eatery! The menu and wine list were extensive – but not expensive – and the service friendly and helpful. My wife had arguably the best duck confit we have ever encountered, and I had medium-rare prime rib with Bordelaise sauce. The crème brulé was not too shabby either. Our only regret was that we were leaving for Castelnaudary the next morning and wouldn’t be able to return…

Bordelaise sauce is a classic sauce of French haute cuisine, and named after the famous Bordeaux wine region in the South-West of France. It consists of dry red wine, bone marrow, butter and shallots. Because of where it evolved, it is also colloquially known as sauce marchand de vins ("wine-merchant's sauce"). Traditionally, the sauce would be made using a Bordeaux wine, but that is not an option for most of us – the many good wines produced in the region are among the most expensive in the world. Bordelaise sauce comes into its own served with grilled beef or steak, though it can also be served with other meats that pair well with red wine-based sauces. If you are a hard-core braai aficionado, don’t despair: it works a treat on steaks cooked over the coals. I like using this sauce on one of my favourite steaks, the succulent rib-eye.

 

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour

 Serves 4

Tastes best accompanied by (what else!) a red Bordeaux blend 

 

4 Beef rib-eye steaks (about 300g each), on the bone

2 Large shallots, finely chopped

2 Garlic cloves, chopped

1 Bouquet garni (thyme, sage and parsley sprigs and bay leaves, tied with string)

20g Unsalted butter

500ml Red wine

500ml Beef stock

3 Tbsp. beef or lamb bone marrow (optional)

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

2 Tsp. thyme leaves

Salt and freshly-ground pepper for seasoning

Watercress or salad leaves, to serve

 

  • Combine the olive oil, thyme and garlic in a small bowl, then season to taste.
  • Brush the steaks with the marinade and set aside while you make the sauce.
  • Combine the wine, bouquet garni and shallots in a pan over medium-high heat.
  • Bring to a simmer, then cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 - 4 minutes until reduced by half.
  • Add the stock (and marrow, if applicable), then cook for a further 15 - 20 minutes until reduced by half again.
  • Meanwhile, pre-heat a chargrill pan or heavy frying pan over high heat.
  • Strain the sauce through a sieve, then keep warm.
  • Grill the steaks – in 2 batches - for 3 minutes each side for medium-rare or until cooked to your liking.
  • Cover the steaks with foil and rest for 3 minutes.
  • Stir the red wine vinegar into the sauce, then whisk in the butter to give it a nice glossy finish.
  • Divide the steaks among 4 serving plates and  drizzle with the sauce.
  • Serve with Dauphinoise potatoes and salad leaves.

 

“Emotionality is really easy for me. My father always said that Fondas can cry at a good steak.” - Jane Fonda.

 

Bockwurst: it has nothing to do with getting your goat

“He thinks he deserves the extra sausage.” (He believes he is more virtuous than the rest of us) – German expression.

 

In my opinion, the two biggest – and long-lasting – gifts the German people ever gave the USA were the hot dog and the hamburger. Both evolved in Central Europe, but only became global favourites after being packaged by Americans in a way that appealed to Joe Sixpack and his family. Hot dogs originated in 13th-Century Germany, and were handed out at large public ceremonies like coronations and religious festivals. As the sausage and condiments were contained inside a bun, the meal could be eaten standing up. A hot dog can be made with many types of sausage (to wit the South African “boerie dog”) but the undisputed king is the one Austrians call a Frankfurter and Germans and Americans a Wiener.

My personal favourite “dogs” are the Käsekrainer (Cheese Griller) and Bockwurst. It is said that the latter got its name because it was traditionally made in late winter and early spring and served with Bock beer. The sausage links were often also simmered in Bock. The traditional meat combination used is veal and pork, which results in sausages quite light in color. Don’t be daunted if you can’t obtain veal (or have ethical qualms) – other meats like warthog, bush pig or young antelope venison will work too, as long as it is cut with pork fat. Smoking is optional, but I am a huge fan of the extra savouriness and depth that cold smoking imparts.

Another aspect that is not cast in concrete is how to serve bockwurst. Most people would probably opt for the hot dog format: a little tomato sauce and/or mustard, a roll, and three (or more) beers and you’re good to go. I enjoy this too, provided I can obtain good quality fresh buns. If not, or when I want to make a proper meal of it, I served the simmered sausages with mustard, mashed potatoes, sauerkraut and stewed apples or quinces.

 

Preparation time: 3 hours

Cooking time: 20 minutes

The recipe yields about 2 kg of sausage

 

1.5kg Light meat, cubed (veal, warthog, venison – my personal favourite is gemsbok offcuts)

750g Pork belly or fatback, cubed

8 Allspice berries

5 Cloves

3 Eggs

Grated zest of ½ lemon

1 Cup thick cream

3 Tbsp. French chives, finely chopped

3 Tbsp. Italian parsley, finely chopped

2 Tbsp. fresh sage, finely chopped

2 Tbsp. coarse sea salt

1 Tsp. fresh thyme leaves

¼ Tsp. ground mace

¼ Tsp. ground ginger

3 - 4 m Pork intestinal casings

 

  • Chill the meat and fat in a freezer until almost frozen.
  • Meanwhile toast the cloves and allspice in a dry pan until their flavour becomes pronounced.
  • Grind them to a powder and mix with the salt, mace and ginger.
  • Place the casings in a bowl of very warm water.
  • Mix the eggs, cream, chives, sage, parsley, thyme and lemon zest in a bowl and put in the fridge.
  • Mix the salt and spices into the meat and fat with your hands. If you have time, let this rest in the fridge for about an hour as well.
  • Grind the meat and fat in a meat grinder, using the fine die. Return the mixture to the freezer while you clean up.
  • Monitor the temperature closely: when the mixture drops to freezing point, you are ready to mix.
  • Add the egg-cream mixture to the meat, then mix thoroughly with your hands for 3 - 4 minutes. It’s really important to do this to get the sausage to bind properly.
  • Once it is mixed well, return to the fridge while you clean up again.
  • Stuff the sausage into the casings. Twist off 15cm-long links by pinching the sausage down and twisting it, first in one direction, and then with the next link, the other direction.
  • Tie the links off with butcher’s twine so they don’t leak while being poached.
  • Poach the links in a large pot with of water; the temperature should be about 70 - 72°C, which is below a simmer.
  • Poach the links for 20 minutes. If you are going to serve them right away, this is the end of the line.
  • If, however, you intend storing them for a while, plunge the poached links into a big bowl of ice water.
  • Let the links chill for 20 minutes.
  • Hang the sausages to dry in a cool place for an hour.
  • If you intend smoking your sausages, get your smoker going while the sausages hang. NB: Cold smoking only!
  • Smoke the links for at least 3 hours, and not more than 6. I prefer a lighter smoke, so you can still taste the meat and spices.
  • Once the sausages have dried and/or been smoked, refrigerate them in zip-seal bags until needed. They should last for at least two weeks in the fridge.
  • If you are freezing the sausages, wait a day before doing so. This will tighten up the sausages and help them keep their shape in the deep-freeze.

 

“A hot dog at the game beats roast beef at the Ritz.” – Humphrey Bogart.

 

Kleftiko: lamb in goat's clothing

“You are welcome, sir, to Cyprus. - goats and monkeys!” – William Shakespeare, Othello.

 

In most countries, goat meat is not held in high esteem. Two notable exceptions to the rule come to mind: Argentina, where a barbecued chievito (kid goat) is considered a delicacy, and Cyprus where it features in the island’s signature dish: kleftiko, literally “the thief's meal”. The dish is said to be named after the kleftes  the 19th-Century guerillas who fought the Ottomans and frequently had to “liberate” food and clothing. Free-ranging goats were the meat staple, as they could be nicked with relative ease. In an effort to keep their hideouts secret, the kleftes developed a method of cooking that produced no smoke, literally burrowing fire-pits into the ground in which they could bake, not grill, their meat, thereby protecting them from Ottoman detection. In modern-day Cuprus the dish pioneered by the kleftes is the yardstick with which rival tavernas are measured.

A patriotic Cypriot cook wouldn’t dream of using lamb or even mutton to make kleftiko – they insist on a katsiki, an old goat. An old goat is tough and stringy, and to turn its meat into a tender, juicy delicacy has become a source of great national pride. Cypriot chauvinists proudly boast that it is not possible to make kleftiko outside of Cyprus. I beg to differ – it can be done, but it is a challenge. Like the famous barbecue of the American South, it requires total control of heat and moisture. The other - perhaps most difficult – requirement for successfully producing kleftiko is patience; the self-control not to check the meat while it is roasting!

Being an uncultured xénos, I don’t feel bound to try and imitate the Cypriots. To me the key to enjoying the food of other cuisines is to apply the aspects that you enjoy, and not to sweat details that you don’t like or are unable to do. Hence a) I use lamb, which is far easier to obtain in my part of the world (and requires far less cooking) and b) I don’t use the whole animal, since I seldom cook for more than six people. Having confessed to not observing the letter of the Cypriot dictates, I do my damnedest to stay true to its spirit. I think you will really enjoy making kleftiko according to this recipe as it produces a similar effect as the traditional technique.

 

Preparation time: 10 minutes, plus the meat needs to marinate overnight

Cooking time: 5 ½ hours

Serves 6

Tastes best accompanied by a Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz

 

For the kleftiko:

A leg of lamb of about 2 kg, bone in

1kg Potatoes, quartered

6 Garlic cloves

5 Bay leaves

Juice of 2 lemons

Zest of 1 lemon

3 Tbsp. olive oil

3 Tbsp. oregano, roughly chopped

1 Tbsp. rosemary, roughly chopped

½ Tsp. ground cinnamon

Coarse sea salt and black peppercorns

For the mint yogurt:

250g Plain Greek yogurt

Juice of ½ lemon

3 Tbsp. mint, chopped

 

  • Crush together the garlic cloves and 1 tsp. salt using a pestle and mortar.
  • Add the herbs, lemon zest, cinnamon, some black pepper, crush a little more, then stir in 2 tbsp. of the olive oil.
  • Using a sharp knife, stick several holes in the lamb, and rub in the paste, pushing it deep into the holes.
  • Transfer the lamb to a large food bag, pour in the lemon juice and marinate overnight.
  • The next day, remove the lamb from the fridge 1 hour before you want to cook it.
  • Heat your oven to 150ºC.
  • Lay 2 long pieces of baking parchment on top of 2 long pieces of foil – one lengthways, the other across - to form a cross.
  • Arrange the potatoes in the middle of the parchment and toss with the remaining oil and some seasoning.
  • Bring up the sides of the foil to form a cup, then pour the marinade from the lamb over the potatoes and throw in the bay leaves.
  • Place the lamb on top of the potatoes and scrunch the foil together tightly to completely enclose the lamb.
  • Lift into a roasting tin and roast in the oven for 5 hours.
  • Remove the tin from the oven and increase the temperature to 220º.
  • Unwrap the parcel and scrunch the foil and parchment under the rim of the tin, baste the lamb with the juices and return to the oven for a further 30 minutes to brown.
  • Remove the lamb from the tin, wrap in foil and allow to rest.
  • Turn the potatoes over and return them to the oven for another 30 minutes.
  • Remove them from the oven, then season with salt.
  • While the potatoes are cooking, stir together all the ingredients for the yogurt.
  • Carve the lamb and serve it with the potatoes and yogurt. with a Greek salad on the side.

 

“He who hasn’t seen mountains and castles is amazed by the sight of a clay oven.” -Cypriot proverb.

 

Sangliers with sang-froid

Hell, it's hot today!

The Great Migration, Kgalagadi style

It's just a jump to the left...

Which part of "get lost" didn't you get?

Warthog Spare Ribs: cheetah fast food

“Because of the lack of criticism, the warthog’s teeth have grown disproportionately long. - Projects and people should welcome criticism and correction so that they do not develop incorrectly. This also refers to the timely correction of a developing child and the willingness to accept criticism.” – Dianne Stewart. 

 

Thanks to the likeable Pumbaa in “The Lion King”, warthogs are now known and loved the world over. While this celebrity may make some humans reluctant to eat warthog, leopards and cheetahs have no such qualms. They are the ideal size for the spotted cats, who enjoy their tasty meat. Although the warthog's primary defence is to flee by means of fast sprinting (they can reach a speed of 40 km/h), female warthogs with piglets will defend them very aggressively. On occasion, warthogs have been observed charging and even wounding large predators.

Since the warthog is a relative of the pig, one would expect it to taste a little porky. In actual fact it looks and tastes more like light-coloured venison than pork. Like most game meats, it has a stronger flavour and leaner meat than its domesticated cousin. The leanness poses a challenge as the meat will tend to become a little dry when cooked, so it benefits from marinating and/or slightly moister cooking methods. Also, as with most meats, the loin areas will tend to be tenderer and the legs and shoulders will be tougher and may need longer slower cooking. Perhaps more people would like it if menus stopped referring to warthog as “Pumbaa”!

The one cut of warthog which is universally popular is its spare ribs. Try and get the ribs of a sub-adult hog; they are divine! Here is how I make it.

 

Preparation time: 12 hours

Cooking time: 3 ½ hours

Serves 2

Tastes best accompanied by a Tinta Barroca or Shiraz

 

2 Small racks of warthog spare ribs (around 500 g each)

4 Garlic cloves, finely chopped

½ Tsp. chopped chilli

1 Tbsp. dark soya sauce

1 Tbsp. Hoy Sin (Chinese BBQ) sauce

½ Tsp. ground cloves

¼ Tsp. ground cinnamon

¼ Tsp. ground allspice

½ Tsp. ground ginger

1 Tsp. brown sugar

2 Tsp. salt

 

  • Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix well.
  • Brush the ribs with the marinade and place the ribs in a Ziploc bag.
  • Expel most of the air from the bag, seal it and place in the refrigerator overnight.
  • When ready to cook, preheat your oven to 140℃.
  • Remove the ribs from their plastic covers. Cover the ribs with aluminium foil and seal the edges tight.
  • Place the parcels on a baking sheet and into the pre-heated oven. Cook for 3 hours.
  • After three hours remove the ribs from the foil and paper.
  • Let them rest for 15 minutes.
  • Baste the ribs with some of the leftover marinade.
  • Transfer to a baking sheet and switch the oven to grill.
  • Place the baking sheet with ribs in the middle of your oven and grill for 10 minutes until the basting is caramelised.
  • Cut the ribs into smaller sections and serve with the starch of your choice.

“Love is huge. But if you're talking about men and women, it's got to start with the most initial obvious attraction that warthogs go through. Look at that ass! That's what keeps the world spinning.” – Chevy Chase.

 

Roast Kudu Sirloin: it will vanish from your plate...

"The ‘grey ghost,’ ubiquitous cliché that it is, is still about the best description anyone has come up with to describe the greater kudu. A kudu doesn't emerge from the bush, it materializes; they do not walk into deep cover, they vanish like smoke in a stiff breeze. ...there is no more impressive single trophy to be had than the horns of a mature greater kudu." - Terry Wieland. 

 

The kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) is one of the most beautiful antelope species, and it is not surprising that the South African National Parks Board chose it as its emblem.  Trophy hunters also pursue them with a passion for the same reason. They are graceful animals, but very skittish, and prefer the shelter of dense bush to open savannah. Here they browse on a variety of trees and shrubs, and the combination of a slow-moving lifestyle and a varied diet results in meat that is both tender and packed with flavour.

Kudu meat is delicious - it has a lovely ruby red colour, is tender with a medium grain and has a subtle game flavour. It is without doubt one of the tastiest game meats. I like to marinate kudu cuts before cooking them. It is not so much a question of adding flavour as ensuring that the meat remains most after cooking. For me, a mixture of olive oil, Worcestershire sauce and red wine is more than adequate. For the best effect you should marinate the meat for a minimum of 24 hours. The following recipe has stood the test of time and is really worth trying:

 

Preparation time: 24 hours

Cooking time 1 hour 45 minutes

Serves 4

Tastes best accompanied by a Malbec or Cinsaut

 

1 Kudu sirloin of around 1 kg

2 Onions, sliced

2 Carrots, chopped

1 Celery stalk, chopped

A bouquet garni consisting of 2 bay leaves and a sprig each of thyme, sage and parsley

4 Cloves of garlic, finely chopped

6 Peppercorns, cracked

200ml Olive oil

100ml Lemon juice

1 Tsp. mustard powder (or crushed seeds)

½ Tsp. paprika

½ Tsp. Cayenne pepper

150ml Medium Cream sherry

1 Tsp. salt

 

  • Place all the ingredients in a Tupperware container or Ziploc bag, along with the roast.
  • Allow to marinate for 24 hours in the refrigerator before cooking.
  • Start by searing the roast on all sides in a very hot pan.
  • Meanwhile, pre-heat your oven to 160⁰C.
  • Transfer the roast and vegetables from the marinade to an oven dish, and place it in the oven.
  • Cook for 1 hour – 50 minutes for a rarer roast.
  • Remove the meat and let it rest.
  • To make the gravy, combine the sherry and cooking juices in a small pot on the stove top.
  • Reduce the gravy by a third over high heat while you carve the meat.
  • Pass the gravy through a sieve before serving it in a gravy vessel.
  • Serve the kudu with roast potato, cream spinach and caramelised baby carrots.

 

“One of the best-known silhouettes of the African bush is that of the elegant kudu bull. These handsome animals bear large gently spiralled horns, which some cultures believe to be the habitat of powerful spirits and a symbol of male potency.” – Col James Stephenson-Hamilton.

 

Eland Fillet on the braai: deserving of worship

“The ancients extolled the virtues of the eland as the ‘game-of-game’ in a land of fat-poor animals, and there is archeological evidence that theymay have driven groups of eland over the edge of cliffs or into traps.” – John D Speth.

 

The first eland I ever saw was a big bull walking along a farm road near Otjiwarongo in Namibia. As our car approached, it gave two quick hops and then jumped clean across a 2m-high game fence. I couldn’t believe my eyes; an animal weighing more than half a ton wasn’t supposed to be this acrobatic! Over the next four decades I have learnt more about the nature of these docile-looking yet highly skittish animals, and – importantly – just how tasty and versatile their meat is.

The meat of an eland is superb; surprisingly tender and juicy for a free-ranging wild animal. It resembles lean beef, and contains about half the calories of beef and one-fifth the fat. Eland is a good all-rounder, being suitable for a variety of recipes. Popular dishes include rump and sirloin steaks, goulash and stroganoff. Steaks should be served medium to rare. Eland is at its best when prepared simply – the meat comes into its own when lightly seasoned. If you are lucky enough to get hold of eland filet or loin, do yourself a favour and try this one out:

 

Preparation time: 8 hours

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Serves 4

Tastes best accompanied by a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon

 

1.2kg Eland fillet (or loin)

½ Cup extra virgin olive oil

300ml Dry red wine

3 Tsp. Steak rub

1 Tsp. beef stock powder

8 Fresh garlic cloves

8 Sprigs fresh rosemary

Coarse sea salt and ground black peppercorns

 

  • Coat the filet with oil.
  • Mix the salt, pepper and 2 Tbsp. of steak rub and thoroughly coat the meat with this mixture.
  • Make 6 evenly-spaced small punctures around the meat and insert slivers of garlic and sprigs of rosemary.
  • Wrap the meat tightly in cling wrap. Refrigerate for 6-8 hours.
  • An hour before the meat is to be cooked, start a charcoal fire in your braai.
  • When the fire is ready, remove the wrapping and braai the filet over low coals, turning every few minutes until medium rare, while preparing the sauce.
  • Heat a little olive oil in a pan and add garlic, chopped rosemary and steak spice. When the garlic has browned, sprinkle generously with some cake flour.
  • Add the wine and stock powder, stirring continually while the liquid reduces.
  • Reduce the sauce by half over medium heat.
  • When fillet is ready, cut it into medallions and drizzle a little of the sauce over the meat.
  • Serve with roast potatoes and vegetables of your choice.

 

“Their work (rock paintings) is recognised as holding deep spiritual and religious meaning. Contrary to popular belief, these paintings of strange human figures and animals, especially the Eland (a species of antelope), did not depict everyday life, but had a deeper religious and symbolic meaning.” – John D Speth.

 

Grilled Venison Backstrap: bucking the trend

"In a civilized and cultivated country, wild animals only continue to exist at all when preserved by sportsmen."  - Theodore Roosevelt.

 

Venison backstrap (aka “back fillet” or “rugstring”) is a cut of meat from a buck, two of which run either side along the length of the spine. The backstrap is considered one of the most tender cuts of meat on a buck because the muscle itself is rarely used – as a general rule, the more a muscle is used, the tougher it becomes. Along with the true fillet (aka “tenderloin”) it is the prime cut of meat on an antelope or bovid. Backstraps are lean and tender, and require little more than fire, salt and pepper. Because they contain practically no fat, they should be cooked at most medium-rare. To protect the meat from getting charred I like wrapping it in rashers of bacon. 

Taste-wise, venison backstrap is similar to filet mignon, because it is tender, healthy and delicious. If you enjoy the taste of venison, you will probably devour backstrap. Grilling, broiling, roasting and marinating backstrap are all effective ways to cook deer it. I am firmly in the grill/braai over open coals camp, because of the winning combination of the lean, firm meat and the distinctive grilled flavour. If you don't have access to a braai or the weather does not permit it, grill the backstrap in your oven. While you won't get the grilled taste, you will still get the blackened edges and a slightly crispy crust on the meat, depending on how long you leave it in the oven.

Roasting in a saucepan works best if you want to cook the meat with a sauce or broth. Sear it first in a pan, then cook it in the oven until ready. While the meat is cooling, use the same pan and the venison drippings to create a sauce to pour over the backstrap. Regardless of how you intend cooking it, I recommend marinating it beforehand to impart moistness and flavour. In view of the above, my favourite recipe won’t come as a surprise!

 

Preparation time: 5 hours

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves 4

Tastes best accompanied by a Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz

 

1kg Antelope (I prefer kudu, gemsbok or wildebeest) backstrap, cut into 5cm chunks

750g Thickly sliced streaky bacon

750ml Apple cider

500ml Barbecue sauce of your choice; teriyaki sauce gives a tart flavour, hoy sin sweetish

 

  • Place the chunks of venison in a shallow baking dish, and pour enough apple cider in to cover them.
  • Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  • Remove from the fridge and pat dry.
  • Discard the cider, and return the venison to the dish.
  • Pour the barbeque sauce over the chunks, cover, and refrigerate for 2 more hours.
  • While the meat is marinating, start a charcoal fire in your braai, enough for high but steady heat.
  • Remove the meat from the refrigerator, and let stand for 30 minutes, or until no longer chilled.
  • Wrap each chunk of venison in a slice of bacon, and secure with toothpicks.
  • Brush the grill grate with olive oil when hot, and place the venison pieces on the grill so they are not touching.
  • The bacon will probably kick up some flames, so be ready.
  • Grill, turning occasionally, until the bacon becomes slightly burnt, 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Dig in and prepare to want more!

 

“If God wanted us to eat vegetables, He would have made broccoli more fun to shoot.” – Earl Dibbles Jr.

 

Saucisson Sec: pig out on it this winter!

“Anything is better than doing nothing. A wild boar charges you and you shoot four of the six shots in your gun at it and it doesn’t fall. Do you look at your gun philosophically and think, the first four shots didn’t work; why bother?” – Bill Dudley.

 

God willing, in a week’s time I should have at least one warthog carcass at my disposal. Apart from the ribs (which I’ll smoke) and one shoulder (to be slow roasted) the rest of the meat is to be minced and turned into one of my favourite game products: saucisson sec de sanglier. I first tasted this delicacy on the famous flea market in L’Isle sur la Sorgue in Provence in 2004, and have since got the hang of making it – after paying some school fees along the way…

A saucisson is a dry, cured sausage from France. It is a very rustic product, normally created using pure, good quality pork. It resembles Italian salami, but just between us, I prefer saucisson. The French adore this gastronomic gem too; they eat 110,000 tons of them per year. The word “saucisson” comes from the Latin word salsus, meaning salted. The generic French word for sausage is saucisse, but this refers to a sausage that needs to be cooked rather than a saucisson, which is cured. Saucisson filling is traditionally made of three-quarters lean ground meat and the rest fat (preferably pork back-fat called bardière). The mixture is mixed with salt, sugar, spices, nitrites and/or saltpetre, and fermenting bacteria. Some versions of saucisson also contain pepper seeds, garlic, bits of dried fruits or nuts (such as pistachios, hazel nuts, figs, or olives) and even dried mushrooms.

This is where the paths of hunter and farmer separate. The saucisson sec made from sanglier (wild boar) is made au naturel, with no chemicals apart from salt, pepper, sugar and garlic. The rustic boar sausage has an incomparable taste and flavour; far superior to any made from domesticated pork. It is also one of the simplest and most fool-proof sausage recipes you’ll ever come across. Because wild boar has much leaner meat than farmed pork, the fat content should be proportionally greater; about one-third compared to one-quarter. The same rule of thumb should be applied when making saucisson from South African bush pig or warthog. Sons of Nimrod, lend me your ears: make some this winter – you’ll thank me for nagging you!

 

1kg Boneless bush pig or warthog shoulder, minced

150g Pork fat, minced

30g Ground sea salt

10g Coarsely-ground black pepper

10g Sugar

12 Mixed peppercorns

6 Garlic cloves, crushed to a paste

375ml Full-bodied red wine

Pork intestinal casings

Butcher’s string

 

  • Combine the pork and fat in a large mixing bowl.
  • Add the other ingredients for the saucisson and massage the mixture with your hands until all the ingredients are thoroughly mixed.
  • Leave, covered with a cloth, in a cool place overnight to mature.
  • The next morning, soak the casings and lay them out ready.
  • Tie one end of each casing off with the string.
  • If you have a mincer or food processor with a sausage filling attachment, use it to stuff the casings. If not, fill the casing with the mixture using a piping bag.
  • Once the casings are filled, tie off the open end to secure the meat and then hang them in a dry cool place to mature.
  • The sausage should be ready to eat after 10 days, but the longer it hangs the deeper the taste will be.
  • A final note: don’t be put off if a grey-white mould forms on the outside of your saucissons – it is a natural side effect of the fermentation taking place on the inside.

 

“A cane non magno saepe tenetur aper (the wild boar is often cornered by a small dog).” – Ovid.

 

Mole Poblano can even make goose palatable

The last photo of Chef Jean Flambé before his sacking

The Cumberland giant meets the Nottingham Hood

Hot Patootie, he really loved his rock 'n roll

You look foreign. Are you a kebab maker?

Doner Kebabs: several names; same thing

If I had a pound for every kebab I’ve eaten, the economy would be in a better state.” - Gordon Brown.

 

Döner kebabs are among Turkey's most successful exports, and have become everyday fare in most Western countries – particularly as late night, after-pub food. Döner is a Turkish word, from dönmek, meaning "to rotate", while the English word “kebab” comes from the Arabic term for skewered, grilled meat. The meat is cooked on a vertical rotisserie, like the Arab shawarma or Greek gyros. Seasoned meat stacked in the shape of an inverted cone is turned slowly on the rotisserie, next to a vertical cooking element. The outer layer is sliced vertically into thin shavings as it cooks. The sliced meat is either served on a plate with various accompaniments, stuffed into a pita bread as a sandwich, or wrapped in a thin flatbread known as a dürüm.

Over recent decades the “wrap” has become popular around the world as a fast food sold in stalls or kiosks. The wrap generally contains salad or vegetables, which may include tomato, lettuce, cabbage, onion, fresh or pickled cucumber and various types of sauces. Döner kebab was invented and popularised in Istanbul after World War II, when it was soon discovered by journalists and became the street food of kings, prime ministers, film stars and celebrities. Whereas the gyro and shawarma reached Britain earlier, thanks to immigrants from Cyprus and Palestine, the döner kebab was popularised in Germany by Turkish “guest workers in the early 1970s”. There the dish developed into a distinctive style of sandwich with abundant salad, vegetables, and sauces, sold in large portions at affordable prices. The German version would soon become one of the top-selling fast foods in Germany and much of Europe, and popular around the world.

By the 1980s, the döner kebab had taken off in South Africa as well, but here it has always (because of our sizeable Lebanese community) been known as “Shawarma in Pita”. I remember (not always clearly!) polishing many of them after “jols” in Hillbrow and Sunnyside, when those suburbs were still cool places (and I could still afford to eat lamb regularly). The recipe below is generic, so you can call it by any of the three ethnic names. The other good news is that thanks to the use of minced lamb you don’t need a vertical rotisserie to make it!

 

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 90 minutes

Serves 4

Tastes best accompanied by a Shiraz or Cinsaut 

 

500g Minced lamb

1 Tsp. bread flour

1 Tsp, dried oregano

½ Tsp. Rosemary, fresh and chopped or dried

½ Tsp. garlic flakes

½ Tsp. onion flakes

½ Tsp. salt

¼ Tsp. freshly-ground black pepper

¼ Tsp. Cayenne pepper

 

  • Pre-heat your oven to 180⁰C.
  • Combine the flour, herbs, spices and salt in a large bowl.
  • Add the minced lamb and thoroughly mix it into the dry ingredients. Kneading the mixture for about 3 minutes will ensure the lamb is smooth and all dry ingredients are evenly combined.
  • Shape the seasoned minced lamb & place into a loaf tin and place it on a baking tray.
  • Cover the tin and bake in the oven for around 1 hour 20 minutes.
  • Once cooked, remove the kebab meat from the loaf tin, wrap in foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  • Slice the kebab meat as thinly as possible and serve with warmed pitta bread and a combination of natural yogurt, shredded cabbage, tomato, carrots, onion and sliced gherkins.

 

“Red cabbage in a kebab is like a gunshot in the middle of a concert: a vulgar affair, yet something that is impossible to ignore. We are about to speak of very ugly matters.” – Stendahl.

 

Meat Loaf: it doesn't have to be a horror show

“I’ve just bought a pair of Meatloaf knickers. On the front it says ‘I will do anything for love.’ On the back it says ‘But I won’t do that.’” – Tracey Ullman. 

 

I am a firm believer in the principle of “rubbish in, rubbish out”. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a dish made out of inferior ingredients is unlikely to have one’s guests rave about it. This is especially true of the much-maligned meat loaf. There are few comfort foods more comforting than a gorgeous meatloaf made with top-quality meat, yet to many people I know associate it with frugality and blandness. This perception harks back to the Great Depression, when cooking meatloaf was a way to stretch the food budget for families, using inexpensive cuts of meat or leftovers. The meat would be “stretched” through the addition of cereals, bread or crumbed biscuits. The tradition lives on to this day: frugal cooks appreciate meat loaf as a lower-fat dish with a pleasing consistency which is ideal for feeding a big family.

As the name indicates, meat loaf is made from ground meat mixed with other ingredients, formed into a loaf shape, then baked, steamed or smoked. Although usually made from ground beef, lamb, pork, veal, venison or poultry can be utilised in the same way. The dish has European origins; meatloaf was mentioned in the famous Roman cookbook Apicius as early as the 5th Century AD. It is particularly popular in Northern European countries like Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Scandinavia. The technique was introduced to America by the Amish and Mennonites of Pennsylvania, whose breakfast staple was “scrapple”, a mixture of ground pork and corn meal.

Meat loaf is the first cousin to several internationally renowned dishes like the Belgian pain de viande, Danish farsbrød (“ground meat bread”), German falscher hase (“mock hare”), Middle Eastern kofta, Dutch

gehaktbrood, Jewish klops, English “haslet” and South Africa’s national dish, bobotie. In 2007, meat loaf was voted the seventh most popular dish in the United States by the readers of Good Housekeeping. It is normally served warm as a main course, but often eaten sliced as a cold cut. Meatloaf with mash and gravy is a great comfort food; both at home and in restaurants.

 

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 75 minutes

Serves 4

Tastes best accompanied by a Merlot or Pinotage

 

For the loaf:

700g Minced beef

1 Large egg

1 Shallot or medium onion, grated

1 Slice white bread, finely chopped

¼ Cup cream

¼ Cup full cream milk

¼ Cup tomato sauce

1 Tsp. salt

¼ Tsp white pepper

¼ Tsp. ground coriander

¼ Tsp. garlic flakes

For the sauce:

1 Cup hoy sin sauce

4 Tbsp. cider vinegar

3 Tbsp. demerara sugar

 

  • Combine the meat loaf ingredients and place in a loaf baking dish.
  • Smooth out the top.
  • Combine the sauce ingredients.
  • Pour half the sauce over the top and sides of the meatloaf.
  • Bake at 180°C about 1 hour 15 minutes or until done.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
  • Remove from the tine and slice.
  • Serve with mash and green vegetables and the remaining sauce, heated.

 

“My wife has to be the world’s worst cook. I don't believe meatloaf should glow in the dark.” – Rodney Dangerfield.

 

Cumberland Sausage Rolls: born of nasty surprises and a cunning plan

“Sausage Seller: You are like the fishers for eels; in still waters they catch nothing, but if they thoroughly stir up the slime their fishing is good. In the same way it’s only in troubled times that you line your pockets.” – Aristophanes.

 

Today’s recipe came together by chance. A while back I got – and gratefully posted – a recipe for the famous Cumberland pork sausage from my friend Brett Hickman. It worked a treat, and is now a firm favourite among the Rossouws. A few days ago I was planning to make venison mince pies with some gemsbok I discovered in my chest freezer. While the meat was defrosting in my fridge, I went shopping and came back with a kilo of pork mince and frozen puff pastry for the pot pies. To my bitter disappointment the 2kg of venison had spoiled. Not only was that a big loss, but I was also faced with the challenge of somehow utilising the pork and pastry – both of which were now thawed.

Hope springs eternal, however, and as they say “’n boer maak ‘n plan”. After a quick re-appreciation of the situation I decided to take a gamble and make sausage rolls. As this idea struck me while sipping a cold Strongbow cider, I decided to really take a walk on the wild side and make Cumberland sausage rolls! The plan of action was to stick to Brett’s sausage recipe for the filling, with two changes: a) omitting the pork fat, as this would make the filling too juicy and make the bottom half of the crust soggy, and b) adding some chopped ham and bacon for added flavour and prevent the mince filling from becoming dry and stodgy. The rest, as they say, is history. Here, for the first time ever, is the recipe for my soon-to-be-famous Cumberland Sausage Rolls!

 

Preparation time: 90 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Makes 20 regular-sized sausage rolls

Tastes best accompanied by a glass of Tinta Barroca or Touriga Naçional (some would argue a Rennie!)

 

1.5kg Pork mince

3 Rashers streaky bacon, finely chopped

3 Tranches of picnic ham, finely chopped

1 Smoked cheese griller sausage, peeled and finely chopped

1 Cup dry apple cider

½ Cup crumbed Tuc biscuits (I put the biscuits in a zip-lock bag and bash them with a mallet)

2 ½ Tbsp. salt

2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

2 Tbsp. ground white pepper

1 Tbsp. dried sage

1 Tbsp. fresh thyme leaves

3 Tsp. white pepper

2 Tsp. ground allspice

1 ½ Tsp. ground coriander

1 ½ Tsp. ground nutmeg

1 ½ Tsp. ground mace

1 Tsp. ground black pepper

1 Tsp. brown sugar

½ Tsp. Cayenne pepper

5 Sheets of frozen puff pastry, thawed in the fridge

1 Large egg, beaten

 

  • Combine the pork with the seasoning, breadcrumbs, herbs and spices and allow to rest for an hour.
  • Pre-heat your oven to 180°C.
  • Divide the mixture into 10 portions.
  • Divide each pastry sheet into 2.
  • Working with half a sheet at a time, roll them out a little (no more than 10%) on a floured surface.
  • Roll one of the 10 portions of filling into a sausage shape with your hands, long enough for the pastry.
  • Lay the meat mixture lengthways along the pastry.
  • Brush the inside of the pastry with egg yolk to help seal it.
  • Roll and fold the pastry tightly over the meat “sausage”.
  • Seal the edges and trim any excess pastry.
  • Cut the sausage roll in half (2 x 10cm-long rolls) and place them on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper.
  • Repeat until you have used up all the ingredients. Ceteris paribus you should end up with 20 rolls.
  • Brush the outside of the rolls lightly with the beaten egg.
  • Bake until the pastry is puffed up and golden brown, about 30 minutes.

 

“I crave a Rennie so much, I think I’m going to eat a sausage roll.” – Tolla van der Merwe.

 

Steak au Poivre: not just for tipsy Americans

“Censorship is like telling a man he can’t have steak because a baby can’t chew it.” – Mark Twain.

 

I first tasted steak au poivre in Santiago, Chile in 1995. There it was (erroneously) called lomo a lo pobre (poor man’s steak). Faux name or not, it was love at first sight - a juicy beef steak, coated in crushed peppercorns, pan-fried and accompanied by a delectable sauce made in the same pan. The pepperiness of the dish was mellowed by the sauce: in fact, as I discovered in time, the dish really is all about the pan sauce. Although it is traditionally made with the Frenchman’s favourite cuts (filet and entrecote) rump or sirloin work very well too. Steak au Poivre is almost always served with some type of potato (thin French fries, baked, mashed, etc.) and a salad.

Classically, the peppercorns used are black ones. They are crushed so that they remain somewhat chunky, not ground. Some people feel that black peppercorns give an acrid taste, and so prefer use to green, white, or red peppercorns, or a mixture of these. You press the steaks into the crushed peppercorns spread out on a surface, to give both sides of the meat a bit of a coating. The quick sauce is where general agreement breaks down completely. In many restaurants, the sauce became standardized as a brandy cream sauce; something many diners seem to have tired of.

Julia Child and Jacques Pépin jointly issued a recipe for Steak au Poivre in 1999 in "Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home." For the pan sauce, they used shallots, dark stock, bourbon, cognac or red wine, finished off with a dab of butter. Delia Smith, the doyenne of British cooks adds nothing but wine to the cooking pan and reduces it to one third of the original volume, and declares that the wine sauce is the original (and best). This begs the question: what is the original recipe?

Émile Lerch, in a 1950 edition of La Revue Culinaire, staked his claim to being the inventor of Steak au Poivre,stating that he first made it in 1930 when he was the sous-chef at the Restaurant Albert in Paris.
He claimed that he had received a shipment of frozen beef from America that looked great, but lacked flavour. At the time, the restaurant was full of Americans who had ruined their taste buds by indulging on too many cocktails before dinner. He came up with the peppercorn idea to give the meat some taste, and to make sure the customers with their deadened taste buds could taste it period! He deliberately, he said, called it "steak (not bisteck) au poivre" to indicate its dual origin, American beef and French cooking.

According to French steak specialist Francis Marie, the dish is much older. She claims steak au poivre originated in the 19th century in the bistros of Upper Normandy, where noted Parisian figures took their lovers for late suppers, and where pepper's purported aphrodisiac properties may have proved most useful. Other indications of earlier origins are M.G. Comte’s account of such a dish having already been established as a specialty of the Hotel de Paris at Monte Carlo in 1910, and O. Becker claim that he had prepared it in Palliard's in 1905. Whatever the truth of the matter, it is one of the world’s truly great meat dishes and not difficult to prepare, as you’ll see below.

 

Preparation time: 75 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Serves 4

Tastes best accompanied by a Shiraz or Cinsaut

 

4 Beef fillets, 200 -250g each and no more than 4cm thick

1 Cup thick cream

3 Tbsp. brandy, plus 1 Tsp. extra

2 Tbsp. whole peppercorns

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 Tsp. olive oil

Coarse sea salt

 

  • Remove the steaks from the refrigerator 1 hour prior to cooking. Sprinkle all sides with salt. 
  • Coarsely crush the peppercorns with a mortar and pestle.
  • Spread the peppercorns evenly on a plate.
  • Press both sides of the fillets into the pepper until it coats the surface. Set aside.
  • Melt the butter and olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat,
  • As soon as the butter and oil begin to turn golden and smoke, place the steaks in the pan.
  • Cook for 4 minutes on each side.
  • Once done, transfer the steaks to a plate, cover with foil and set aside.
  • Pour off the excess fat from the pan, but do not wipe or scrape the pan clean.
  • Off the heat, pour 1/3 cup brandy into the pan and carefully ignite the alcohol with a long match.
  • Gently shake the pan until the flames die.
  • Return the pan to medium heat and add the cream.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil and whisk until the sauce coats the back of a spoon, approximately 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Add the teaspoon of brandy and season to taste with the salt.
  • Return the steaks to the pan, spoon the sauce over, and serve with the starch of your choice. 
  • NB: Use extreme caution when igniting alcohol. Remove the pan from the heat source before adding the alcohol. Pour the alcohol into the pan and carefully ignite with a match or click lighter.

 

“True love is rare, like a good steak. Help me cut it up.” – Jarod Kintz.

 

Fillet with Mole Poblano: Maya Magic

“Chile, they say, is the king, the soul of the Mexicans – a nutrient, a medicine, a drug, a comfort. For many Mexicans, if it were not for the existence of chile, their national identity would begin to disappear.” - Arturo Lomelli.

 

I never expected to hear the words “chocolate”, “chilli” and “meat” in the same sentence – it was as outrageous as “giant Jewish lock forward.” But then I saw what was to become one of my all-time favourite movies, Chocolat. As the name suggests, the plot of this film revolves around chocolate.  Set in the late 1950s in a village in the French hinterland, a woman called Vianne and her young daughter open up a shop where she sells all things chocolate. Vianne is a woman free of spirit and prejudices, who flouts the conventions of the time. This incurs the wrath of the mayor - a puritanical man obsessed with morality – and he tries every dirty trick in the book to make Vianne leave the village.

Throughout the film there are the most wonderful scenes of chocolate - from the preparation of the beans to the eating of the finished articles. One of the most memorable scenes is when Vianne caters for a small dinner party to celebrate her landlady’s 80th birthday. The old lady invites the few villagers who haven't succumbed to the mayor's pressures. A goose is served for the main course, accompanied by a chocolate sauce which the guests devour with relish. Until then I had regarded chocolate as a sweet treat, but some quick research revealed that it had been used in savoury dishes for centuries. The Mayas of pre-Columbian Mexico had devised a rich sauce of bitter chocolate, combined with the bite of poblano chillies, which was usually served with venison or turkey. Queen Victoria and her inner circle were reportedly very fond of grouse served in a rich, dark wine sauce finished with a small amount of bitter chocolate, so the combination has been around for a long while.

The ancient sauce of the Mayas has survived to the present, and is known as Mole Poblano (Puebla-style Mole) by their descendants and it is regarded as Mexico’s national dish by many. Containing around 20 ingredients, of which the most notable are chili and chocolate, this dark sauce is usually served over chicken or turkey and is regarded as a treat on special occasions. The sauce combines equally well with red meat, and I am particularly fond of fillet smothered in it. Should you find it hard to obtain the authentic Mexican chilli varieties, substitute them with other medium-hot ones; around 10,000 Scoville units.

 

Preparation time: 4 hours

Cooking time: 3 hours

Serves 8

Traditionally enjoyed with tequila, but I quite like Merlot or Tinta Barocca with this dish

 

For the meat:

1.5 Kg beef or venison fillet, sliced into 10cm thick roundels

2 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds for garnish

Coarse sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste

White rice for serving

For the sauce:

12 Dried Poblano or Jalapeňo chillies

12 Dried Guajillo or Paprika chillies

10 Medium garlic cloves, crushed (about 10 teaspoons)

6 Dried Pasilla or Hungarian Wax or Carrot chillies

3 Dried bay leaves, crumbled

4 Cherry tomatoes, rinsed and quartered

2 Slices white bread

2 Uncooked corn tortillas

1 Large ripe tomato, quartered

1 Large onion, thinly sliced

1 Stick cinnamon (4 -5 cm), broken into pieces

3L Beef stock

2 Cups sunflower oil

1 Cup dark bitter chocolate, finely chopped

½ Cup almonds

½ Cup raw peanuts, shelled

4 Tbsp. sugar, plus more to taste

4 Tbsp. sesame seeds

2 Tbsp. pumpkin seeds

2 Tbsp. raisins

1 Tsp. whole aniseed

1 Tsp. bruised black peppercorns

1 Tsp. thyme leaves

½ Tsp. whole cloves

½ Tsp. dried marjoram or oregano

Coarse sea salt to taste

 

  • Pan-sear the pieces of fillet over high heat in a large frying pan containing a little oil, about 2 minutes per side. Set aside until ready to assemble the dish.
  • Remove the chilli stems and shake the seeds out into a small bowl.
  • Tear chillies into large pieces and set them aside.
  • Place 4 Tbsp. of the reserved chilli seeds, as well as the sesame seeds, in a small frying pan over medium heat.
  • Toast the seeds, stirring occasionally, until lightly brown, about 2 minutes. Transfer the seeds to a spice grinder.
  • Put the aniseed, peppercorns, and cloves in the now empty pan. Toast until fragrant, about 1 minute, and transfer to the spice grinder as well.
  • Add the thyme, marjoram, bay leaves, and cinnamon to the contents of the spice grinder.
  • Grind all the seeds and spices into a fine powder. Transfer to a large bowl and set aside.
  • Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat to shimmering point.
  • Working in batches, fry the chilies until slightly darkened, about 20 seconds per batch. Transfer them to a paper towel-lined plate as each batch is finished.
  • Remove the saucepan from the heat and reserve it and its cooking juices.
  • Transfer the chilies to a large bowl and add enough boiling water to cover them.
  • Let the chillies steep for 30 minutes. Strain them, reserving the soaking liquid.
  • Transfer a third of the chilies, 3 Tbsp. soaking liquid, and 3 Tbsp. beef stock into a blender and purée until as smooth as possible. Repeat the process twice, i.e. make three batches.
  • Set a fine mesh strainer over a large bowl and strain the chilli mixture, using a rubber spatula to push through as much chile mixture as possible. Discard all solids and set the purée aside.
  • Return the saucepan with oil to medium-high heat.
  • One ingredient at a time, fry the almonds, peanuts, pumpkin seeds and raisins until toasted, about 1 minute for almonds, 45 seconds for peanuts, 20 seconds for pumpkin seeds, and 15 seconds for raisins. Transfer each batch to a paper towel-lined plate as it is done.
  • Transfer the almonds, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, and raisins to the bowl containing the spice mixture.
  • Fry the bread in the saucepan until golden brown - 1 to 2 minutes per side – and transfer to a paper towel--lined plate.
  • Fry the tortillas until golden brown, about 1 minute per side, and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Remove the saucepan from the heat.
  • Break the bread and tortillas into small pieces and transfer to the bowl containing the spice mixture.
  • Set a fine mesh strainer or sieve over a small bowl and strain the oil from the saucepan.
  • Return 2 Tbsp. of the strained oil to the now-empty saucepan.
  • Heat the pan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add in the onions and cook, stirring, until browned - about 10 minutes.
  • Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  • Transfer the onions and garlic to the bowl with the spice mixture, leaving as much oil in pan as possible.
  • Return the pan to medium-high heat.
  • When the oil is shimmering, add in both varieties of tomato. Cook until softened, about 10 minutes.
  • Transfer the cooked tomato to the bowl with the spice mixture.
  • Add 2 ½ cups of beef stock to the bowl and mix in.
  • Working in two batches, purée the spice mixture in your blender; as smooth as possible.
  • Strain the mixture over a large bowl. Discard the solids and set the spice mixture aside.
  • Heat 3 Tbsp. of the reserved strained oil in a large pot over medium-high heat until shimmering.
  • Add the chilli purée and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture has thickened to the consistency of tomato paste, about 10 minutes.
  • Stir in the spice mixture, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently, for 30 minutes.
  • Stir in 4 cups of stock and the chocolate. Simmer, partially covered, for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  • During the last 15 minutes of cooking time, add the fillet and ensure it is heated through.
  • Stir in the sugar and check the seasoning.
  • Serve with the white rice, garnished with the toasted sesame seeds.

 

“The fruit of the chile is as indispensable to the natives as salt to the whites.” –Friedrich Alexander von Humboldt.

 

Cumberland Pigs' unique flavour came from eating apples

Beaks eyes Inga from Sweden's meatballs

Home of ecstatic diners since 1888

As a Muslim child in Kenya pulled pork was Haram

Even Mexican food must have a wall around it

Venison Taco Pie: Buck 'n Cheese

“A vegetarian once asked me what I felt while shooting deer. I replied: ‘Recoil!’” – Jenna Hess.

 

Eating the meat of wild animals is an activity as old as mankind itself. The rock and cave paintings of the ancients bear testimony to man’s pursuit of herbivores, and the respect the hunter felt for his quarry. Nowadays the odds have shifted in favour of homo sapiens to the extent that hunting is now a pastime for the bourgeois who feels Nimrod’s blood in his veins. In South Africa, trophy and biltong hunting are huge, sustainable industries; not just providing work and income to thousands of South Africans but ensuring the survival of our antelope species. A further welcome spin-off is that the biltong hunting industry has brought venison (game meat) within reach of carnivores like me.  

Venison is widely considered by modern nutritionists to be a very healthy meat. Since wild antelopes are not confined to limited spaces and eat a natural diet, their meat is natural and free of artificial hormones. Venison is higher in moisture, similar in protein and lower in fat and cholesterol than grain-fed beef, pork, or lamb. When considering the environmental effects that result from raising livestock, venison is also a low-impact, more sustainable food. I’m sure the subconscious caveman in me also gets a kick out of eating the food of the ancestors!

Venison is about much more than biltong, dry wors, chilli bites and meat pies. Provided their meat is handled with a more delicate touch than (say) beef, antelopes yield delectable steaks, roasts and chops. The following recipe is an ideal way to serve venison mince to WAGs and children, as it combines great meat with the allure of Tex-Mex cuisine.

 

Preparation time: 40 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour

Serves 4

Tastes best accompanied by a Tempranillo or Grenache

 

1kg Venison mince (blesbok, wildebeest, impala, springbok will all do)

2 Envelopes taco seasoning (I use Old El Paso)

1 Roll of frozen short crust pastry, thawed

1 Medium onion, finely chopped

350g Sour cream

2 Cups mature Cheddar, grated

½ Cup water

1 Tbsp. olive oil

 

  • Pre-heat your oven to 180°C,
  • Pat the short crust pastry down on the bottom and up the sides of a greased 20cm x 30cm tart dish.
  • Bake the pastry blind, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  • Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.
  • Add the onion and fry until it starts to brown.
  • Add the venison and brown it. Drain of excess oil.
  • Add the taco seasoning and ½ cup water to the venison and onion. Mix well.
  • Fill the pastry shell with the venison mixture.
  • Spread the sour cream evenly over the venison, and sprinkle with the grated cheese.
  • Bake at 180°C for 40 minutes.
  • Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
  • Serve with your favourite taco toppings - diced tomatoes and scallions are a “must”, while shredded lettuce, olives, avocado and more sour cream are all OK.

 

“With all due respect to the Parks Board, more animals die in Kruger because people shoot them than because people feed them.” – Pieter Pieterse (RIP).

 

Pulled Pork Rolls: Dixieland Hamburgers

“Barbecue is an incredibly democratic food. It's cheaper than McDonald's in many places and far more delicious.” - Michael Pollan.

 

Slow-cooked meat is no new thing, but there’s something about Old South-style pulled pork that has piqued appetites all over the world. Truly authentic pulled pork is actually a barbecue dish, cooked for hours over a charcoal pit until it is so tender that it can easily be shredded or “pulled” apart to serve. As very few of us have outdoor fire pits, you’ll be pleased to know even Americans admit it can be made in a standard domestic oven – although, like any national dish, there’s plenty more debate to be had about seasonings, temperatures and serving methods. 

Pork shoulder is the ideal cut for making pulled pork. It has the optimum fat content to produce tender, juicy meat, but it’s essential to cook it slowly to allow the protein to break down properly. Take it out of the oven too early and you may as well dine on a pair of veldskoens. Some Americans insist that cooking the shoulder bone-in helps the meat stay moist, but lots of off-the-shelf supermarket shoulder comes boneless, which is also fine. As ever, buy the best quality meat you can afford.

Many (non-US) cooks believe that marinating is essential for a juicy barbecue, but in the case of pulled pork the tenderness is created using a dry rub. In Tennessee there is an old saying that goes: “there isn’t an animal on earth that isn’t made better with one third brown sugar, one third salt and one third smoked paprika.” The triumvirate of salt, sugar and paprika gives you a subtle flavour that allows the pork to sing with its own pure flavour. Some experts ramp up the flavour during cooking by adding garlic powder, mustard powder, chilli powder or cumin to their dry rub. The cooking needs to be of the “low and slow” kind for best results, with at least two hours per kilogram of meat. As the name implies, it’s ready when it can be easily pulled apart using a fork. My recipe below entails cooking the pork till tender, then pulling it and serving it as a “Cracker Hamburger”.

 

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 5 hours

Serves 8

Tastes best accompanied by a Malbec or Tempranillo

 

2kg Pork shoulder, de-boned with rind still attached; rolled and tied up (ask your butcher to do this)

4 Bay leaves

2 Large onions, thinly sliced

½ Cup Tomato sauce

4 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

3 Tbsp. brown sugar

1 Tbsp. mustard powder

1 Tbsp. paprika – use smoked paprika if you can get it

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 Tsp. freshly-ground black pepper

1 Tsp. salt

16 Sesame seed hamburger buns and coleslaw, to serve (see my recipe on the “Salad” page)

 

  • Pre-heat your oven to 160°C.
  • Scatter the onions and bay leaves over the bottom of a large roasting tin.
  • Mix the mustard powder, paprika, salt and pepper.
  • Rub this mixture all over the pork, making sure you rub it into all the crevices.
  • Place the pork, rind-side up, on top of the onions.
  • Pour 200ml water into the bottom of the tin, cover the pork with foil and bake for 4 hrs.
  • After 3 hours, light a fire in your braai/barbecue.
  • Mix the ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar in a bowl.
  • Remove the pork from the roasting tin and pat dry.
  • Place the roasting tin on the stove top, pour in the ketchup mixture and mix it with the cooking juices.
  • Bring to a vigorous boil and allow to reduce for 10 - 15 minutes until thick and glossy.
  • Remove the bay leaves and blitz with a hand blender or food processor until smooth.
  • Smear half the sauce over the meat.
  • Once the barbecue coals are ready, put the pork on the grid, skin-side down.
  • Cook for 15 minutes until nicely charred, then flip over and cook for another 10 minutes.
  • The meat will be very tender, so handle it carefully so it doesn’t break up.
  • Lift the pork onto a large plate or tray. Remove the string and peel off the skin and associated fat.
  • Using 2 forks, shred the meat into chunky pieces.
  • Add 3 - 4 Tbsp. of the barbecue sauce to the meat and toss everything well to coat.
  • Pile into the hamburger buns and serve with extra sauce and some coleslaw.

 

“This pork is so raw, it’s still singing ‘Hakuna Matata!’“ – Gordon Ramsay.

 

Beef tongue: unfamiliarity breeds contempt

“Temper never mellows with age, and a sharp tongue is the only edged tool that grows keener with constant use.” -  Washington Irving.

 

If you're like most of the people I know, you'd probably recoil in horror if I offered you beef tongue. I know taste is ultimately a subjective matter, but the widespread bias against tongue in any shape or form makes little sense. Not only is tongue, like steak, simply muscle meat, but animal tongues are both very tasty and very cheap. I was fortunate to grow up in a house where domestic animals were utilised from head to tail, run by a mother who had a natural flair for making use of misunderstood parts like offal, liver, kidneys and tongue. To this day these remain four of my favourite meats, with venison liver and sheep’s tongue shading the others.

In many parts of the world, tongue is not only eaten, but highly prized. Think of the hot beef tongue sandwiches on menus in New York’s Kosher delis, fried cod tongue in Norway, spicy Szechuan duck tongue, Mexican tacos de lengua (tacos filled with braised beef tongue) and the gusto with which people in the Balkans eat the tongues of their sheep and goats.

Sadly, the only kinds of tongue (fairly) readily available to the urban South African aficionado are beef and sheep’s tongue, with the former predominating. Consequently, most tongue recipes involve beef tongue. No wonder: it is a highly versatile meat, which can be boiled, sautéed, deep fried, grilled, roasted, poached, or braised. Tongue is real meat: almost identical to muscle from other parts of the animal. The tongue you plan to eat will taste exactly like the rest of the meat from the animal it came from, e.g. beef tongue tastes like beef, pig tongue tastes like pork etc.

Texturally, tongue becomes melt-in-the-mouth tender after a few hours of cooking. Once the tongue is done, all that remains to be done is to peel the skin off and trim off excess fat, gristle and bones from the base of the tongue — they might not be there, but if they are they should be discarded. The tongue can now be used in myriad recipes. The one below is great when serving tongue to “Philistines”, as it has a pleasant faux barbecue flavour.

 

Preparation time: 2 hours

Cooking time: 5 hours

Serves 6

Tastes best accompanied by a Cabernet Sauvignon

 

1 Fresh beef tongue (not corned) of about 1.5kg, rinsed

1 Celery stalk, diced

1 Large onion, diced

½ Carrot, diced

4 Bay leaves

2 Cloves garlic

2 Thyme sprigs

1,5L Chicken stock

1L Beef stock

2 ½ Cups rocket or baby spinach

1 Cup flat-leaf parsley

2 Tbsp. Hoy Sin (barbecue) sauce

1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp. olive oil

3 Tsp. Worcestershire sauce

3 Tsp. coarse sea salt

1 Tsp. whole black peppercorns

 

  • Pre-heat your oven to 160°C.
  • Place the tongue in a deep ovenproof casserole. Cover with the carrot, celery, onion, thyme, parsley, peppercorns, garlic and bay leaves.
  • Season with the sea salt, then add the barbecue sauce, beef stock, red wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and just enough chicken stock to cover the tongue.
  • Bring to a boil over high heat on the stove top, stir, cover and place in the oven.
  • Cook for 3 ½ hours, checking the liquid from time to time, adding more chicken stock as needed.
  • The tongue should be very tender now. Remove it from the casserole to cool for an hour.
  • Strain the cooking liquid into a large saucepan. Bring to the boil over high heat, and reduce to about 3 cups, about 45 minutes.
  • Peel the skin from the tongue, wrap it in plastic cling wrap and refrigerate for an hour.
  • Remove the tongue from the wrapping and slice it. Slices should be about 1cm thick.
  • Arrange the slices, slightly overlapping, in a large skillet.
  • Pour the reduced sauce over the tongue and bring to a gentle simmer.
  • Cook for about 30 minutes, until the sauce turns syrupy.
  • Meanwhile, toss the greens with the balsamic vinegar and oil.
  • Transfer the tongue to a serving platter and spoon the sauce over it.
  • Serve on mashed potato, with the greens alongside.

 

“A brain is worth little without a tongue.” – French proverb.

 

Köttbullar med gräddsås: no horsing around!

“Traces of horse meat have been discovered in Ikea’s Swedish meatballs. Wow! It almost makes you want to stop taking your family to dinner at a furniture store.” – Conan O’Brien.

 

One of my all-time favourite comedies is “Trading Places”. The turning point occurs when Eddie Murphy, Dan Aykroyd, Denholm Elliot and Jamie Lee Curtis board a New York-bound New Year’s fancy dress party train and confront Calvin Beaks, the arch-villain. Curtis, who is dressed up as a Swiss hiker, suffers a Sarah Palin moment and introduces herself as Swedish. Beaks, who is no fool, draws a gun and snarls: “This is as far as we go. No more cockamamie cigar smoke. No more Swedish meatballs there, tootsie. No more goddamn jerky beef! And no more phony Irish whiskey. The party's over.”

This was my first acquaintance with Swedish meatballs or Köttbullar. Köttbullar med gräddsås (meatballs with cream sauce) is the Swedish national dish, and when well made it really is good – not bland at all. As with many other iconic dishes, there is no single standard recipe. Ten Swedes will have ten different views on how “authentic” köttbullar is made. Opinions about the gräddsås are even more diverse. The recipe below is adapted from Vår Kok Bok (Sweden's “Kook en Geniet”) and strikes a good balance between the various styles of making the dish.

 

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour

Serves 6

Tastes best accompanied by a Tinta Barroca or Touriga Naçional

 

300g Beef mince

200g Pork mince

2 Slices day-old white bread, crumbled

1 Onion, finely grated

1 Large egg

2 Cups beef stock

½ Cup thick cream

½ Cup sour cream

¼ Cup chicken stock

3 Tbsp. bread flour

1 Tbsp. butter, plus 1 Tsp. extra

½ Tbsp. brown sugar

1 Tsp. salt

½ Tsp. black pepper

¼ Tsp. nutmeg

¼ Tsp. allspice

¼ Tsp. ground ginger

 

  • Pre-heat your oven to 180°C.
  • Mix the bread crumbs and thick cream in a small bowl.
  • Allow to stand until the crumbs have absorbed the cream, about 10 minutes.
  • While the bread is soaking, melt 1 Tsp. butter in a saucepan over medium heat, and cook the onion until it turns light brown, about 10 minutes.
  • Place the grated onion in a mixing bowl and mix with the minced meat, egg, brown sugar, salt, black pepper, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger.
  • Lightly fold in the bread crumbs and cream.
  • Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  • Pinch off about 1 ½ Tbsp. of the meat mixture per meatball, and form into balls.
  • Place the meatballs in the saucepan, and cook – turning them often - until the outsides are brown, but the insides still pink.
  • Place the browned meatballs in a baking dish, pour in the chicken stock, and cover with foil.
  • Bake in the preheated oven until the meatballs are tender, about 30 minutes.
  • Transfer the meatballs to a serving dish and keep them warm.
  • To make the gravy, pour the pan drippings into a saucepan over medium heat.
  • Whisk the flour into the drippings until smooth, and then gradually whisk in enough beef broth to total about 2 ½ cups of liquid.
  • Bring the gravy to a simmer, whisking constantly until thick, about 5 minutes.
  • Just before serving, whisk in the sour cream.
  • Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
  • Serve the gravy with the meatballs on pasta or mashed potato.

 

“Miracles are like meatballs, because nobody can exactly agree on what they are made of, where they come from, or how often they should appear.” – Daniel Handler.

 

Cumberland Sausage: British Boerewors

“Politics is like sausage being made. It is unsavoury, and it always has been that way, but we usually end up where we need to be.” – Hillary Clinton.

 

Cumberland sausage originated in the northern English county of Cumberland, now part of  Cumbria. They are traditionally very long, 50 cm, and sold rolled in a flat, circular coil, but in western Cumbria they are more often served in long curved lengths. It is made of pork, and the flavour is dominated by the tartness of apple cider and the heath of pepper, both black and white, Another distinctive feature is that the meat is chopped – or coarsely minced - giving the sausage a chunky, meaty texture.

I was introduced to this delicious sausage by a colleague and fellow foodie, Brett Hickman. He tried my boerewors recipe a while back, and enjoyed the finished product so much that he shared his “secret family recipe” for Cumberland Sausage with me! I’ve tried it and found it easy to make and very, very tasty. The recipe below is based on Brett’s, with a few minute tweaks of my own. Try it with creamy mash and seasonal vegetables, and don't forget the gravy! All you need for this recipe is a meat grinder with a sausage funnel attachment.

 

Preparation time: 1 hour

Resting time: 2 hours

Yields 2 Cumberland sausage coils

Tastes best accompanied by a chilled dry cider

 

1.5kg Pork shoulder

500g Pork belly

1 Cup dry apple cider

½ Cups fresh bread crumbs

2 ½ Tbsp. salt

2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

2 Tbsp. ground white pepper

1 ½ Tbsp. dried sage

1 Tbsp. French chives, chopped

2 Tsp. ground mace

2 Tsp. dried thyme

2 Tsp. ground allspice

1 ½ Tsp. ground coriander

1 ½ Tsp. ground nutmeg

1 Tsp. ground black pepper

1 Tsp. brown sugar

½ Tsp. Cayenne pepper

3m Natural pork intestine casings

 

  • Dice the pork shoulder and belly roughly, then mince in a meat grinder through an 8mm mincing plate.
  • Combine the pork with the seasoning, breadcrumbs, herbs and spices and allow to rest for 2 hours.
  • Meanwhile, soak the intestine casings in cold water.
  • Take the mincing blades out of the grinder and attach the sausage funnel.
  • Slip the end of the wet casing over the attachment and pull the casing down the shaft so that it is bunched up at the base. This will allow you to make a good amount of sausages without having to stop and add more casing.
  • Spoon some meat back in to the grinder and tie the starting end of the casing into a knot.
  • Start stuffing the sausage using the slow setting, gently support the sausage as it is piped into the casing. Ensure that it does not pack too tightly and avoiding air bubbles.
  • Gently form the sausage into a large coil, around 40cm - 50cm in diameter, or more as required.
  • Store in the fridge overnight before cooking.

 

“Profits, like sausages, are esteemed most by those who know least about what goes into them.” – Alvin Toffler.

 

1964 was a hotly contested election

In Rio, life's a beach

I say, this steak looks a tad rare!

Jerking around in Jamaica

Mrs Fudd has the final say

Rabbit Carbonnade: beer necessity...

“Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.” – John Steinbeck.

 

One of my favourite restaurants (and, occasionally, just a watering hole) in the Cape Town Waterfront is a Belgian place called “Den Anker”. They serve some seriously good food, and their Belgian-style chips are superb. Their menus are full of funny descriptions of their dishes in English and Flemish, and one which I’ll always remember concerns Carbonnade de Lapin à la Flamande (Flemish Rabbit Casserole) which the menu described as “De kat van’t gebuurt verdronk in Belgisch bier.” Go figure that one out.

Carbonnade (Stoofvlees in Flemish and Dutch) is a meat-and-onion casserole cooked in beer, and (hopefully) the meat used is always beef, rabbit or chicken! It enjoys iconic status in Flanders. Northern France - which used to be Flemish as well - and in the South of the Netherlands. As that part of the world is cold, grey and damp for much of the year, this great comfort food is eaten often and with gusto. The type of beer used is important, and traditionally a brown Trappist Abbey beer or a Flemish red ale is the beer of choice, with a somewhat bitter-sour flavour. It is often accompanied by Belgian fries or boiled potatoes.

Rabbit is one of the meats of the future. A rabbit converts fodder into protein much more efficiently than a chicken, and tastes great. In Europe it has been popular for centuries, but South Africans mostly still suffer from what I call the Walt Disney Syndrome: if an animal is cute enough to become the basis of an animated movie and/or a soft toy, people can’t bring themselves to eat it. I have no such qualms…

 

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 2 hours

Serves 2

Tastes best accompanied by a Geuze (wild yeast) or Kriek (cherry-flavoured) beer

 

1 Rabbit, headless and jointed

2 Brown onions, finely sliced

2 Large carrots, sliced

¼  Cup diced pain d'épices (gingerbread)

¼ Cup chopped Italian parsley

3 Sprigs of thyme

1 Bay leaf

1 Tbsp. wholegrain Dijon mustard

½ Tbsp. butter

500ml Brown or Red Belgian ale

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

Salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste

 

  • Preheat the oven to 150°C.
  • Heat the oil and butter in a flameproof casserole dish over medium-high heat.
  • Add the rabbit and cook, turning, until browned all over.
  • Season with salt and pepper and remove from the dish.
  • To the same casserole dish, add the onion, thyme and bay leaf and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Return the rabbit and add the carrot and beer.
  • Bring to a simmer, then cover with a round of baking paper followed by a lid.
  • Bake in the oven for 2 hours.
  • Stir in the mustard and gingerbread.
  • Cook for a further 10 minutes in the oven.
  • Spoon into serving bowls, scatter with the parsley and serve.

 

“Sometimes you have to censor children’s books. When I read 'Peter Rabbit,' I skip the part about Peter's father ending up in one of Mrs McGregor's pies. It’s just too grim for my grandkids. Reality will come soon enough.” - Regina Brett.

 

Jamaican Jerk Pork: sweet and hot like an island girl

“Jerk is Jamaica to the bone, aromatic and smoky, sweet but insistently hot. All of its traditional ingredients grow in the island’s lush green interior: fresh ginger, thyme and scallions; Scotch bonnet peppers; and the sweet wood of the allspice tree, which burns to a fragrant smoke.” – Julia Mosken.

Done right, Jamaican Jerk is one of the great barbecue traditions of the world, up there with Asado de Tira, Texas brisket, Filipino suckling pig and Chinese Char Siu. Its components are a thick brown paste flecked with chilies, meat (usually pork or chicken) and smoke, from a tightly covered charcoal grill, that slowly soaks into the food. The words “jerk” and “jerky” are derived from charqui, the Spanish version of the Native-American word charki, meaning “dried meat”.

Jerk began with the Taino Indians, who lived on Jamaica and used the sweet wood of the allspice tree to cook the meat of local wild pigs. As Europeans planted the island with sugar cane, bananas and coffee, the Taino retreated to the safety of the vast inland forests. Here another key element was introduced by Maroons, escaped African slaves who taught the Taino their method of smoking food in pits dug into the earth. The Maroons joined the Taino in the forests, and fought British and Spanish dominion over the island. The legend of the Maroons’ daring and resourcefulness lives on in the islanders’ pride in jerk, which is truly indigenous and not introduced by colonisers.

Purists say allspice smoke is a defining element of jerk. The entire tree, which Jamaicans call pimento, is used: the crushed berries are rubbed into the skin; the wood burns hot and slow; the green leaves are tossed on the fire, releasing a sweet smoke that flavors the meat with a warm, woody pepperiness. Although the seasonings of jerk do not change much around the island, some cooks use more liquid — usually soy sauce or vinegar — to transform the rub into a kind of marinade. A dry rub makes for crustier jerk; a wet rub produces juicier meat. My recipe is roughly in the middle.

Since I don’t have access to the prized allspice wood, I make do with charcoal (large chunks of natural hardwood, not briquettes) in a kettle braai. To achieve the spicy smokiness, I make a mixture of a pint of water, a tablespoon of ground allspice and half a tablespoon of ground nutmeg. During the cooking process I regularly drizzle some of this over the coals, careful not to douse them.

 

Preparation time: 9 hours

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves 6

Tastes best accompanied by a cold lager beer

 

2 Kg leg of pork, cut into 5 cm³ chunks

1 Large onion, chopped

2 Hot chillies (Jamaicans use Scotch bonnet, but use milder Jalapeno if you fear heat)

3 Scallions (green onions), chopped

3 Cloves garlic, minced

1 Tsp. fresh ginger, minced

Juice of 1 lemon

3 Tsp. oil

2 Tsp. dark soya sauce

2 Tsp. brown malt vinegar

2 Tsp. ground allspice

1 ½ Tsp. salt

1 Tsp. fresh or ½ Tsp. dried  thyme

1 Tsp. ground cinnamon

½ Tsp. Cayenne pepper

½ Tsp. nutmeg

6 Cloves

3 Lemons, quartered, for garnish

340ml Water, with allspice and nutmeg mixed in as described above

 

  • Combine the herbs and spices in a large bowl and mix thoroughly.
  • Combine the green onions and garlic, peppers, onion, lemon juice, oil, soy sauce, malt vinegar and ginger in a food processor. Blend until very smooth.
  • Place the pork in a glass bowl or large freezer bag, and add the rest of the ingredients (except the quartered lemons). Stir or shake to ensure the pork is coated all over.
  • Marinate in your fridge for at least 8 hours, stirring or flipping often.
  • Take out of the fridge 1 hour before grilling.
  • In the meantime, start a sizeable fire in your kettle braai.
  • Skewer the pork, 4 cubes to a skewer.
  • When the coals are ready, place the skewers on the grid.
  • Cook, covered, for around 10 minutes on one side, flip and cook for another 10 minutes on the other.
  • Pour small amounts of the spicy water over the coals – but not the meat – every three minutes. When done, the meat should be lightly scorched around the edges.
  • Garnish and tuck in, mon!

 

“I try not to eat too much fast food but still go for hot wings occasionally. As I get older, I have to pay more attention to my diet. My favorite food is jerk pork.” – Usain Bolt.

 

Steak Tartare: eating steak off the grid

“In the hands of a chef, steak tartare can be a truly beautiful thing, and the process seems so straightforward. But, please understand: it is actually very hard to make – just look at the disgusting stuff people have posted on the internet. Serving raw meat is risky business; make sure you learn from true professionals.” – Christine Byrne.

 

The big risk in cooking quality meat is overcooking, so I have decided to negate it by including a recipe that doesn’t require cooking! I know Steak Tartare tends to polarise people, but this piece is not aimed at vegans or a meat-and-potatoes audience. For those who appreciate the charms of top-quality meat, this simple yet classic dish will make your palate sing. All it needs is to be put together with thought and care.

Although the word “tartare” is assumed to refer to the Tatars of Central Asia -  and there are many fanciful stories connecting steak tartare with them, steak tartare is not related to their cuisine in any shape or form. "À la tartare" or simply "tartare" still simply means "served with tartar sauce" for some dishes, like fried fish. The name 'tartare' is often applied to other meats or fish, such as tuna, that haven’t been cooked over heat.

 

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: what cooking time?

Serves 1 gourmand

Tastes best with a Malbec or Carmenere

 

200g Rump steak (fresh or dry-aged, not wet-aged), fat trimmed off and chopped finely

1 Shallot, chopped finely

1 Large gherkin, chopped finely

1 Egg yolk

½ Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped

2 Tsp. capers

Juice of ¼ Lemon

3 Tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Tabasco (about 6 drops will suffice)

Salt and freshly-ground black pepper for seasoning

 

  • Combine the steak, shallot, gherkin, capers, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, a little salt and some black pepper and stir gently.
  • Transfer the tartare to a plate, neatly in a mound.
  • Make a slight hollow in the centre, break the egg yolk into the hollow and serve.
  • Garnish according to your taste.
  • Season as you go, checking the salt and pepper, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce levels and adding as required.

 

“Hollywood, to hear some writers tell it, is the place where they take an author's steak tartare and make cheeseburger out of it. Upon seeing the film, they say, the author promptly cuts his throat, bleeding to death in a pool of money.” – Fletcher Knebel.

 

Feijoada: Rio's cassoulet

“They make this drink in Brazil called Cachaça. It’s sugar cane spirit; costs 35 cents a quart. One quart of that stuff and you can dance the Samba. Two quarts and you see God. Three quarts and you grow a pair of tight pants and an electric guitar.” - David Lee Roth.

 

Feijoada (pronounced fey-zwa-dah) is a stew containing pork and/or beef and beans, which originated in Portugal. It is also popular in the former Portuguese colonies and territories like Angola, Cape Verde, Mozambique, Goa and Macao. Brazilians love it; it is considered a national dish there. Over the centuries, the recipe has evolved and today it differs slightly from one country to another. The name comes from feijão, Portuguese for "beans".

The Brazilian version of feijoada (of which Rio de Janeiro claim custody) is made with black beans, a variety of salted or smoked pork or beef cuts, such as pork trotters, hocks, ribs, bacon, beef tongue or loin and at least two types of smoked sausage. The taste of the final dish is strong, moderately salty but not spicy, dominated by the flavours of black bean and meat. It is customary to serve it with white rice and oranges, the latter to help with digestion. The handful of vegetarians in Brazil (and, I suppose, the poorest of the poor who can’t afford meat) eat Feijão com arroz - rice and black beans without the addition of the meat.

Feijoada is the cassoulet of Brazil, with numerous communities claiming it as their own. Believe you me, there is no single authentic recipe – as long as it contains black beans and you like it, it will do. Feel free to use the meat cuts and sausages you like, and ditto for the seasoning and garnish. The one thing I am dogmatic about is the beans. For the love of all that is holy, do not use canned beans - use dried beans that have been soaked overnight. Dried beans will always result in a superior feijoada.

 

Preparation time: 8 hours

Cooking time: 2 ½ hours

Serves 8

Tastes best accompanied by a cold lager beer

 

400g Dry black beans, soaked overnight

250g Diced ham

250g Smoked pork rashers, diced

2 Small smoked eisbein (hocks)

1 Orange, sliced into thin roundels

1 Mineola or mandarin orange, sliced into thin roundels

1 ½ Cups chopped onion

½ Cup scallions (green onions), chopped

½ Cup fresh cilantro (coriander leaves), chopped

¼ Cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped

2 Large cloves garlic, chopped

2 Bay leaves

1 Tsp. paprika

½ Tsp. ground coriander

1 Tbsp. olive oil

Salt and black pepper to taste

8 Portions cooked long grain white rice

 

  • Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  • Add half the chopped onion, all the scallion and the garlic and cook, stirring, until softened,
  • Pour in the soaked beans and fill with enough water to cover the beans by about 7.5cm.
  • Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer uncovered for about 2 hours, until tender.
  • While the beans are cooking, place the hocks in a smaller pot with ¼ cup of the chopped onion.
  • Cover with water and simmer until the meat pulls off of the bone easily, about 1 hour.
  • Drain and add to the beans.
  • Pre-heat your oven to 190°C.
  • Place the ham, bacon, and remaining onion in a baking dish and bake for 15 minutes.
  • Drain the bacon and ham mixture, and add to the beans.
  • Season with the bay leaves, coriander, paprika, salt and pepper.
  • Simmer uncovered for another 30 minutes.
  • Stir in the chopped cilantro and parsley just before serving.
  • Serve with the rice, and the citrus slices on the side.

 

"When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor are poor, they call me a communist." - Dom Helder Pessoa Camara, former Archbishop of Recife.

 

Chili con carne: for cowboys who don't cry

"It can only truly be Texas red if it walks the thin line just this side of indigestibility: Damning the mouth that eats it and defying the stomach to digest it, the ingredients are hardly willing to lie in the same pot together." - John Thorne.

 

Chili con carne is the icon of Tex-Mex cuisine, and has been the official state dish of Texas since 1977.  In Texas, it is made with primarily two ingredients: beef and chili peppers.  No beans; that's not the Texan way. It’s chili con carne - not chili con carne y frijoles – after all! The name is derived from the Native-American chili (hot chili pepper) and carne, which is Spanish for "meat". While many food historians agree that chili con carne is an American dish with Mexican roots, Mexicans indignantly deny any association with the dish, which they associate with gringo invaders. This probably explains the absence of beans and corn, two Chicano staples. So where, when and by whom was it invented?

Some say chili con carne was a way for poor people to stretch the little meat they had, but that's too simplistic -- if so, other ingredients such as tomatoes, beans and corn would surely have been added as well? Meat stews with hot peppers in them would have been made in Pre-Columbian America for thousands of years. Some even say that it chili con carne was an Aztec dish, but whatever meat stews the Aztecs added their chilies to, it wasn't chili con carne as Texans know it. They didn't have beef -- or pork. What is certain is that something like chili con carne was already being made in what is now Texas, New Mexico, and northern Mexico during the Spanish colonial rule over those areas.

As early as 1828, a traveller (while never mentioning the word chili) wrote of his visit to San Antonio:  "When the poor buy their meat in the market, a very little is made to suffice for the whole family; it is generally cut into a kind of hash with nearly as many peppers as there are pieces of meat--this is all stewed together.” The actual term "chili con carne" to describe this fiery dish started making its appearance in restaurants and bars in San Antonio, Texas, after the territory won its independence. Women street vendors, dubbed "Chili Queens", started selling chili con carne once the bars and restaurants had popularized it. By the 1880s, people from all walks of life bought their chili. The women made it at home and built small fires on the square to heat it for serving to customers.

 The American cultural invasion that followed WW II made the American lifestyle, including popular food and drink, penetrate most other nations’ culture. Countless Cowboy movies featuring the likes of Roy Rogers, Gary Cooper and John Wayne saw to it that baked beans and chili con carne household names all over the world. As a Cold War kid I was affected too, and I have been a con carne fan for since the late 1960s. Here is how I like to make it:

 

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes

Serves 4

Tastes best accompanied by a cold lager beer

 

600g Lean minced beef

400g Tinned, chopped tomatoes

1 Large onion

1 Red bell pepper

3 Garlic cloves, peeled

1 Beef stock cube

2 Tbsp. tomato purée

1 ½ Tsp. peri peri powder

1 ½ Tsp. paprika

1 Tsp. ground cumin

1 Tsp. sugar

½ Tsp. dried oregano or marjoram

1 Tbsp. oil

4 Portions cooked long grain rice, to serve

Sliced green chilies for garnish

Grated white cheddar cheese for garnish

 

  • Chop the onion into small dice, about 5mm square.
  • Cut the red pepper in half lengthways, remove the stalk and wash the seeds away, then chop.
  • Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves.
  • Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  • Add the onions and cook, stirring continually, for about 5 minutes until the onions are soft and slightly translucent.
  • Tip in the garlic, red pepper, peri peri powder, paprika and cumin. Give it a good stir, then leave it to cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Turn the heat up a bit, add the meat to the pan and break it up with your spoon or spatula.
  • Keep stirring and prodding for at least 5 minutes, until all the mince is in uniform, mince-sized lumps and there are no more pink bits.
  • Crumble the beef stock cube into 300ml hot water and dissolve.
  • Pour the stock into the pan with the mince mixture.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes and stir in.
  • Tip in the marjoram/oregano and sugar, as well as a good shake of salt and pepper.
  • Add the tomato purée and stir the sauce well.
  • Bring the mixture to the boil, give it a good stir and put a lid on the pan.
  • Turn down the heat until it is gently bubbling and leave it for 20 minutes.
  • Check on the pan occasionally to stir it and make sure the sauce doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan and isn’t drying out.
  • If the sauce is too dry, add a couple of tablespoons of water and make sure that the heat really is low enough.
  • Check the seasoning; it will probably take a lot more seasoning than you think.
  • Replace the lid, turn off the heat and leave the chili to stand for 10 minutes before serving.
  • Serve on the rice, topped with the cheese and chili slices.

 

“Texans were blessed with the best beef on earth, and insisted on rendering it nearly inedible by overcooking it. A popular saying among cowboys was: ‘If it’s brown, it’s still cooking. If it’s black, it’s nearly done.’” – James Michener.

 

This doesn't look Kosher to me...

A nice pair...

Surfing with the Alien.

You're not hungry, are you?

Oh my God, this is SOOO good!

Roast Beef Brisket: Goyim like it too...

“Brisket is one nasty cut of meat. It will fight you ferociously as you try to tame it. Once you do, though, it lays down like a cuddly puppy and rewards you with a big, delicious hug.” - Danny Meyer.

 

I grew up with brisket, and can vouch for Danny Meyer’s view on it. My mother had the skill and patience to best this “nasty cut of meat” and to this day my oldest brother insists that she cook him pot roasted brisket whenever he goes visiting. Brisket is a cut of meat from the breast or lower chest of beef or veal. As cattle do not have collar bones, the breast muscles support about 60% of the body weight of standing or moving cattle. This requires a significant amount of connective tissue, so this cut must be cooked thoroughly and correctly to tenderise the connective tissue. To me, pot roasting and slow roasting – in the oven or over a smoky fire – brings out the best in this humble yet scrumptious cut of meat.

Brisket is big in the USA. It is synonymous with Texas culture, and has long been a standing staple for residents of the Lone Star State. It is mostly used in Texas Barbecue, which involves rubbing the meat with a dry spice mixture and cooking it slowly over indirect heat from charcoal or wood. This also has the effect of giving the meat a smokey flavour. In traditional American Jewish cuisine, brisket is most often braised as a pot roast, especially as a holiday main course at Rosh Hashanah, Passover and Shabbath. For reasons of economics and Kashrut (Kosher prescriptions), it was historically one of the more popular cuts of beef among the Ashkenazi Jews of New York.

Brisket is also the most popular cut for corned beef, which can be further spiced and smoked to make Pastrami. These two meats are popular Jewish substitutes for bacon. You may be interested to know that “Sally” (Meg Ryan) was having Katz’s Deli’s famous Pastrami on Rye Sandwich when she faked orgasm in When Harry Met Sally, and the old lady at the next table immediately ordered “whatever she’s having.”

The following recipe is an amalgam of my mother’s and that used in Texas when doing roast brisket in the oven.  

 

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 4 hours

Serves 8

Tastes best accompanied by a Malbec or Tempranillo

 

1.5kg Beef brisket, trimmed

2 Tbsp. paprika

2 Tbsp. coarse sea salt

1 Tbsp. garlic flakes

1 Tbsp. onion flakes or powder

1 Tbsp. ground coriander

1 Tbsp. ground black pepper

½ Tbsp. sugar

2 Tsp. mustard powder

1 Bay leaf, crushed

400ml Beef stock

 

  • Preheat the oven to 180⁰C.
  • Make a dry rub by combining the paprika, coriander, salt, garlic, onion, pepper, sugar, mustard, and bay leaf.
  • Season the raw brisket on both sides with the rub.
  • Place in a roasting pan and roast, uncovered, for 1 hour.
  • Add the beef stock and enough water to cover the meat halfway up.
  • Lower the oven temperature to 140⁰C, cover the pan tightly and cook for another 3 hours.
  • Remove the brisket from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes at room temperature.
  • Trim the fat and slice the meat thinly across the grain.
  • Serve topped with the juices from the roasting pan.

 

“Only Texans and Jews really understand brisket.” – Anthony Bourdain.

 

Slow roasted lamb shoulder: lamb for a lion

“I looked at the stained-glass image of the lamb in the window above me, but that only reminded me that lambs are famous for being led to slaughter, or sometimes hanging out with lions in ill-advised relationships.” – Maureen Johnson.

Yesterday, the 3rd of January 2017, I lost the best friend any man could ever have. Jean Botha was a man true to his values and principles; someone who always looked you straight in the eye. He and I had many things in common, including a love of fly fishing and an appreciation of free range lamb on the braai. A few weeks before he was taken away from us, Jean brought me a butchered lamb from a mutual friend’s farm in the Vryburg district, whence we obtain the tender, tasty meat a few times a year.

Jean could braai lamb rib better than anyone I know, and so when Jakki and I regain our appetites I am not even going to try and emulate his masterful rib. Instead I am going to make us slow roasted shoulder of lamb, a dish with which I believe I came close to matching my mate’s skill. As aperitif and dessert we shall have stiff Bacardis with Coke to salute the man and the part he played in our lives.

 

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 4 hours

Serves 6

Tastes best accompanied by a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon

 

The lamb:

1 Lamb shoulder (about 2 kg, with bone in) - ask the butcher to score lightly between the bones for you

1 Large bulb of garlic, quartered

2 Sprigs fresh rosemary

Olive oil

Sea salt (crushed) and freshly-ground black pepper

The sauce:

500ml Mutton stock

2 Tbsp. capers, soaked, drained and chopped (optional)

2 Tbsp. fresh mint, finely chopped

2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

1 Tbsp. cake flour

 

  • Preheat your oven as hot as it will go – mine goes to 230°C, after which I switch on the grill for 10 minutes.
  • Now, using a sharp knife, slash through the fat layer of the lamb at about 2.5cm intervals, then repeat at a 90° angle to form a diamond pattern.
  • Pour a little olive oil into the base of a high-sided (7cm deep) roasting tin and then add half of the rosemary sprigs.
  • Scatter over two halves of the unpeeled garlic bulb.
  • Place the lamb on top, pour over enough oil to coat the lamb and rub it in with your hands.
  • Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper and gently rub both into the meat.
  • Scatter the rest of the rosemary and garlic cloves over top of the lamb.
  • Cover the roasting tin tightly with heavyweight aluminium foil and place on the middle rack of the oven.
  • Immediately turn the heat down to 160°C.
  • Cook for four hours.
  • When the lamb is cooked, remove it from the oven, remove the foil, and you will find the large bone simply pulls away clean.
  • Now, use two forks to separate the meat from the smaller bones, and pile the meat onto a plate - being careful to remove any small bones.
  • Cover the meat and keep warm while you prepare the sauce.
  • Remove and discard any sprigs of rosemary in the baking tin (don't worry about the little leaves that have fallen off the sprigs).
  • Remove the roasted garlic cloves to a plate and allow them to cool a little.
  • Pour off all but about 1 Tbsp. of oil and fat, but try to ensure that you leave the cooking liquor in the pan. This is achieved easily by pouring the whole lot into a tall measuring jug and allowing the oil to rise to the top. Pour off the excess oil, and pour the liquor back into the pan.
  • Pop the roasted garlic cloves out of their skins, add to the roasting pan and smash up with the back of a wooden spoon.
  • Place the roasting pan on the stove (I place it over two hobs) over medium-high heat.
  • Whisk in the flour, then stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, gradually add the stock.
  • Boil, stirring, for about 5 minutes (this doesn't make a thick gravy, so don't be concerned if it doesn't thicken much).
  • Add the finely chopped mint and the red wine vinegar, and the capers if using.
  • Boil briefly and then pour into a jug remember this is more of a sauce than a gravy, so it won't be thick.
  • Serve the lamb accompanied by mashed potato, glazed carrots and green beans, with about 3 - 4 Tbsp. of the sauce poured over the top of each portion.

 

“Civilization is the lamb's skin in which barbarism masquerades.” - Thomas Bailey Aldrich.

 

Surf and Turf: the ultimate in fusion

“Life is all about perspective. The sinking of the Titanic was probably viewed as one of God’s miracles by the lobsters in its kitchen.” – John Cleese.

 

Cast your mind back to Seventies cuisine and you’ll picture avocado Ritz, devilled eggs, crumbed mushrooms, “monkey gland” sauce, Dom Pedros and steak garnished with frilly parsley and a row of pink prawns. This last dish, usually called “surf and turf” (or sometimes “beef and reef”) due to it containing elements from both the sea and the land, has a somewhat chequered history. The term “Surf and turf” first appeared on restaurant menus in the early 1960s, and was first cited in the Los Angeles Times in 1961. It refers to a main course which combines seafood (usually a crustacean) with red meat.

In Europe and North America, the combination of choice is usually beef steak and lobster, but prawns or langoustines are also used. In South Africa prawns and calamari predominate, although in pricey Cape restaurants you can have your crayfish and eat it. Surf and turf is widely regarded as a quintessential dish of the middlebrow “Continental cuisine” so beloved of middle class in the New World. To keep up with the Joneses, the middle classes of 1960s and 1970s America served lobster tail with their steak, hoping to make the delicacy go further but still retain an aura of rarity and status. 

“Beef and reef” remains a popular choice at certain eateries, but there is a school of thought that ascribes this to nostalgia - older diners who fell in love with it in the 70s and can’t let go. One restaurateur quoted in a recent article says: “I’ve never seen a teenager order it; predominantly older men, but their women sometimes order it too. It is an old-school sort of dish, but it still has reasonable appeal.” It may be seriously retro, but done properly – using quality ingredients – it can be a seriously tasty treat. Follow this simple recipe closely and you’ll see what I mean.

 

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves 4

Tastes best accompanied by a Merlot or Pinotage

 

4 Beef filet medallions, each around 250g and 3 cm thick

250g Raw crayfish tail meat (you can also use tail meat from large prawns), chopped into chunks

4 Slices of streaky bacon

2 Shallots, finely chopped

2 Garlic cloves, crushed

½ Cup butter

1 Tsp. fish or seafood seasoning

1 Tsp. Knorr Aromat

Sunflower oil

Salt and freshly-ground black pepper to season

 

  • Set your oven on Grill (260⁰C).
  • Sprinkle the steaks with salt, pepper, and half the Aromat. `
  • Wrap each filet with bacon, and secure with a toothpick.
  • Arrange in a roasting dish, greased with a little oil, and place in the hot oven.
  • Grill until medium rare, about 5 - 6 minutes per side for medium rare.
  • While steaks are cooking, melt ¼ cup of butter over medium heat and stir in the fish spice and the remaining Aromat.
  • Stir in the chopped crayfish meat, and cook until done (about 4 – 5 minutes).
  • Spoon the crayfish chunks equally over the cooked steaks, and return them to the grill until the crayfish meat begins to brown.
  • While the surf and turf is in the oven, heat the remaining butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat.
  • Add the shallots and garlic, and cook until it browns, turning a nutty colour.
  • To serve, spoon the browned butter over the steaks, and season to taste.
  • Serve with chargrilled vegetables.

 

“A crayfish loves water, but not when it is being boiled in it!” – Senegalese proverb. 

Carbonada Criolla: the Pampa in a Pumpkin

"In the lives of children, pumpkins turn into coaches, mice and rats turn into men. When we grow up, we realize it is far more common for men to turn into rats." - Gregory Maguire.

 

Argentina has always been one of my favourite countries. It has diverse landscapes and climates, warm, welcoming people, stunning architecture, superb fishing, Malbec and the Tango and the best beef on earth. Its people are renowned for their celebration of the good food provided by their Patria, and most special occasions involve eating lots of food! Argentines are the world’s biggest consumers of beef per capita, and who can blame them? The pampas of Argentina are dotted with huge cattle ranches, and the Gaucho, or Argentine cowboy, is a well-known symbol of Argentine individualism.

Argentine cuisine is not just about barbecuing steaks and ribs, though. Two factors have helped to shape it: the influence of various immigrant communities, and the wide variety of agricultural produce available. Although beef and soya beans are its flagship farm produce, Argentina is also a major producer of mutton, pork, cereals, fruit and vegetables and its seas teem with tasty fish and shellfish. These fine ingredients are used in a myriad ways, as the country is not just home to large numbers of people of Italian and Spanish descent, but also has vibrant Germanic, Anglo-Saxon, Slavic, Lebanese Arab and Jewish communities.

One of the most unusual dishes in the Argentine repertoire is Carbonada Criolla (“Creole Stew”). It is a stew that contains meat, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and chunks of corn on the cob, plus fruit. The traditional way of serving it is cooked in a hollowed-out pumpkin or squash. It is a perennial favourite in the South-Central parts of the country, where winters are cold and comfort food welcome. Even though we are currently approaching mid-summer, this dish can come into its own on a blustery evening on the coast…

 

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour 45 minutes

Serves 6

 

Tastes best accompanied by a fruity Malbec or Tinta Barroca

1 Kg boneless stewing beef, cut into 4 cm³ chunks

1 Pumpkin or squash, large enough to hold 10 cups of stew

400 g Tinned Italian plum tomatoes, chopped

3 Carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks

2 Large sweet potatoes, cut into large chunks

2 Large potatoes, peeled and kept whole

1 Large onion, coarsely chopped

4 Garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

1 ½ Cups fresh white grapes or ½ cup of raisins

1 ½ Cups chopped flat leaf parsley

1 Bay leaf

1 Tsp. oregano

1 Tsp. hot paprika

2 Cups dry red wine

6 tablespoons olive oil (divided)

Salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste

 

  • Heat 4 Tbsp. of the oil in a large stew pot over medium-high heat.
  • Toss in the onions and garlic and sauté until translucent and fragrant. Remove from the pot and set aside.
  • Season the beef with salt and pepper, and brown in the same pot. Return the onions and garlic to the pot.
  • Pour in the wine and increase the heat to reduce the liquid by half.
  • Add the tomatoes, bay leaf, oregano, paprika, and 1 cup of water.
  • Bring to the boil, cover the pot and then reduce to a simmer.
  • Cook gently for 1 hour, then check the seasoning.
  • Preheat your oven to 180°C.
  • Carefully cut the top off the squash or pumpkin, scoop out the seeds, and sprinkle inside with salt, the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and a few splashes of water to keep it from drying out.
  • Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the pumpkin meat is tender but the shell still holds its shape.
  • While the pumpkin or squash is baking, add the carrots, potatoes, grapes/raisins, and 1 cup of the parsley in the stew.
  • Bring to a boil, cover, and lower the heat to cook for 30 minutes or until tender.
  • When the pumpkin or squash and the stew are both done, remove from the heat.
  • Put the squash or pumpkin on a large serving dish, remove the bay leaf from the stew and spoon the prepared Carbonada inside the squash.
  • Serve, sprinkled with the remaining parsley, and tilt the top of the squash or the pumpkin alongside.

 

“Every person has lots of ingredients to make them what is always a one-in-a-kind creation. We are all imperfect genetic stews.” - Holly Goldberg Sloan.

Suckling Pig: only the good die young...

“Fame is like a shaved piglet with a greased tail, and it is only after it has slipped through the hands of some thousands, that some fellow, by mere chance, holds on to it!” – Davy Crockett.

 

Mention “suckling pig” and my thoughts immediately turn to a freezing winter’s night in Mendoza, Argentina when my friend Chris Marlin and I made short work of devouring a Lechoncito (literally “little milk drinker” in the local vernacular). I will never forget the yin and yang effect of the crisp, crackling skin and the tender, succulent meat inside. Sadly, obtaining a genuine suckling pig in my neck of the woods is like searching for the Holy Grail – South Africans are Philistines when it comes to this delicacy.

In Hispanic and Lusophone countries, this is not the case. To people who subscribe to the Iberian way of doing things, there a few meals held in higher esteem than a crispy piglet. It is about more than just cooking a meal; roasting a suckling pig is an event. The piglet is ideally roasted outdoors with lots of pomp and ceremony, but this recipe works equally well in a large kitchen oven. The key to achieving tender, moist meat is to brine the piglet well before roasting.

 

Preparation time: 12 hours

Cooking time: 4 hours

Serves 8 – 10

Tastes best accompanied by a Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz

 

1 Whole suckling pig. 6 – 7 kg

12 l Water

6 ½ Cups kosher salt

4 ½ Cups brown sugar

½ Cup sunflower oil for basting

 

  • Rinse the piglet in cold water and set aside.
  • Place a large garbage bag inside another, similar-sized bag.
  • Mix the water, salt, and sugar and transfer into the doubled-up garbage bags, taking care not to puncture the bags.
  • Place the piglet in the bags, remove excess air, and tie the bags up tightly.
  • Place in a fridge or cool place and brine for 12 hours, turning once.
  • Pre-heat your oven to 120°C and arrange a rack on the lowest level.
  • Remove the pig from the brine and pat dry with paper towels. Discard the brine.
  • Lay the pig on its side and stuff the interior with 15 to 20 large (50 cm - long) pieces of lightly crumpled aluminium foil until it’s filled out. (This will prevent caving during roasting).
  • Use foil to hold the pig’s mouth in place during roasting, or the more traditional apple.
  • Transfer the piglet to a baking sheet fitted with a roasting rack.
  • Arrange it stomach down with the back legs tucked underneath and pointing forward, and the front legs tucked underneath and toward its sides. (You may need to add more foil if it is not sitting properly.)
  • Prop up the head with foil or a large ramekin to keep the back aligned. Cover tightly with aluminium foil and place in the oven.
  • Roast the pig, turning once, until it reaches 55°C, about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. To take the internal temperature of the pig, insert a thermometer into the thigh (be sure the thermometer doesn’t touch any bone).
  • Remove the foil, baste the piglet all over with the oil, and increase the oven temp to 200°C.
  • Roast, basting every 15 minutes with oil and rotating once more, until the internal temperature reaches 71°C, about 45 minutes to 1 hour more. (If the ears or snout become too brown, cover with foil.)
  • Remove the cooked piglet from the oven, and let it rest for 20 minutes before carving.
  • Serve with roast potatoes, stewed quince or apple and greens of your choice.

 

“Why, this fellow don't know any more about politics than a piglet knows about Sunday.” – Harry S Truman.

 

A Dorper sheep among Namaqualand spring flowers

Chinese farmer riding piggy back

There's something odd about that new ram...

Paprika is one of Hungary's major exports

The Fawltys meet Mr Carnegie, the "scavenger gourmet"

Pan-seared Veal Chops with herbs

"I love signing autographs. I'll sign anything but veal cutlets. My ballpoint slips on veal cutlets." – Casey Stengel.

To me, the mention of the term “veal” will always evoke visions of my favourite episode of Fawlty Towers. Entitled “Basil the Rat”, it features the frantic efforts of the hotel staff to avoid being closed down by a health inspector and in the process Basil nearly accidentally poisons the inspector with a veal cutlet.

Veal is the meat of immature calves, in contrast to the beef from adult cattle. Veal can be produced from a calf of either sex and any breed; however, most veal comes from young males of dairy breeds because these are surplus to the industry's requirements. Generally, veal is more expensive than beef from older cattle. Veal has been an important ingredient in Italian and French cuisine since time immemorial. One of the most popular cuts is the chops or cutlets, such as the Italian cotoletta or the famous Austrian dish Wiener Schnitzel. Some classic French veal dishes include fried escalopes (thin, tenderised steaks), fried veal grenadines (small, thick fillet steaks) and blanquettes (a ragout cooked in white stock).

Veal has only recently become readily available in South Africa, but still only in urban areas. Because veal is lower in fat than many meats, care must be taken in preparation to ensure that it does not become tough. Veal is often coated in preparation for frying or eaten with a sauce. The following recipe is sure to wow your dinner guests: 

 

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Cooking time: 25 minutes

Serves 2

Tastes best accompanied by a Pinotage or Cinsaut

 

2 Veal saddle or leg chops, about 2.5 - 3 cm thick

2 Cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped

2 Tbsp. olive oil

200ml Red wine

100ml Mutton stock

2 Tsp. ground coriander seeds

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

  • Rub the chops with 1 Tbsp. of oil, then the garlic, rosemary, coriander, 1 Tsp. salt and ½ Tsp. pepper.
  • Leave in the refrigerator on a plate for 15 minutes.
  • Pre-heat your oven to 180⁰C.
  • Heat a large frying pan over medium high heat and add the remaining oil.
  • Place the chops in the pan and cook until golden brown, then turn.
  • Transfer them to a baking dish and roast in the oven for 10 minutes.
  • Add the wine and stock to the pan and stir up brown bits from bottom.
  • Reduce the sauce by at least half while the chops are in the oven.
  • Serve the chops with the reduced sauce from the pan.
  • The chops taste great accompanied by parsnip or sweet potato mash and broccoli.

 

Veal is very young beef and, like a very young girlfriend, it's cute but boring and expensive.” – PJ O’Rourke.

 

Hungarian Goulash with Spaetzle

 “A little bad taste is like a nice dash of paprika on your food.” – Dorothy Parker.

Think famous Hungarians, and beyond Imre Nagy the only other one I can think of is the inimitable socialite Zsa Zsa Gabor. Think Hungarian food, and two words immediately spring to mind: goulash and paprika. Goulash is a soup or stew made with meat, (mostly beef; sometimes pork) onions and the most defining ingredient; paprika. This hearty dish has spread far beyond the borders of its Magyar motherland; it is eaten all over Central Europe and has been successfully transplanted to the New World as well.

The word Goulash comes from the Hungarian word Gulyás, which refers to a Hungarian Herdsman or Cowboy. The great plain of Hungary was the perfect place to raise cattle, and in earlier times herdsman would go on cattle drives selling their famous grey cattle all over Europe,
On these long cattle drives the herders would butcher the weaker cows that were unable to  survive the drive, and make a spicy stew or soup from them in a kettle over an open fire.

Paprika is a bright red powder made from ground sweet and hot dried peppers of the species Capsicum Annuum. It is much milder than cayenne pepper with a characteristic sweetness, and it is a favourite ingredient in European cookery. The Magyar name is derived from the Serbo-Croatian word papar meaning "pepper", which in turn came from the Latin piper.

Although paprika is nowadays widely associated with Hungarian cuisine, the peppers from which it is made are native to Mexico, and were later introduced to Spain in the 16th century. The trade in paprika expanded eastwards from there along the Mediterranean littoral. It eventually reached Central Europe courtesy of its invasion by the Ottoman Turks. The plant used to make the Hungarian version of the spice was grown in 1529 by the Turks in Budapest, the current capital of Hungary. Central European paprika was fiery hot until the 1920s, when a Hungarian horticulturist found a plant that produced sweet fruit, which he grafted onto other plants.

 

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 3 ½ hours

Serves 6

Tastes best accompanied by a Tinta Barroca or Touriga Nacional

 

For the Goulash:

1.5 kg Beef chuck or shin, trimmed and cut into small cubes

4 Large onions, sliced

4 Carrots, chopped

2 Red bell peppers, seeded and diced

5 Large garlic cloves, halved

3 Bay leaves

½ Cup sweet paprika powder

1 Tsp. caraway seeds

3 Cups full-bodied red wine

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

2 Tsp. salt

For the Spaetzle:

2 Cups wheat bread flour

2 Large eggs

1 ¼ Cup milk

1 Tsp. baking powder

¼ Tsp. salt

A pinch of white pepper

1 l Sour cream (for topping)

 

  • Preheat your oven to 325ºF and turn on your convection fan if you have one.
  • Heat the vegetable oil in a large deep saucepan over medium heat.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the onions, garlic and peppers and slowly cook, without browning, for about 10 minutes.
  • Sprinkle in the paprika and caraway seeds and continue cooking at very low heat for another minute or two.
  • Toss in the beef, carrots, red wine, bay leaves and salt. Continue cooking just to bring the dish to a simmer, then transfer to a casserole or Dutch oven and place in the pre-heated oven.
  • Cover and bake until the beef is tender, about 3 hours. Stir in the vinegar.
  • To make the spaetzle, whisk the dry ingredients together in a small bowl.
  • In a second bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk.
  • Combine the mixtures with a wooden spoon to make a sticky batter.
  • Let the batter rest for 15 minutes allowing the elastic gluten to relax.
  • Meanwhile heat a large pot of salted water to the simmering point.
  • Using a rubber spatula and a potato grater, force the batter through the largest holes into the boiling water.
  • The batter will sink, and then rise to the top when cooked through – this should take,about a minute.
  • Remove the boiled noodles with a strainer or slotted spoon and transfer to a warmed plate.
  • Serve the goulash on top of the spaetzle, topped with sour cream.

 

“Conrad Hilton was very generous to me in the divorce settlement. He gave me 5000 Gideon Bibles.” -  Zsa Zsa Gabor.

 

Karoo Spring Lamb with Buttermilk

“Allan Donald had a rocket arm. Fielding in the deep, he could throw a lamb chop past a wolf.” – Danny Morrison.

 

The Karoo is an iconic region of South Africa, and covers a large part of its southern interior. It is an arid geographic region and bereft of surface water, hence its name which is derived from the Khoisan word meaning “land of thirst.” Despite Its dry climate, it is a land of botanical diversity unparalleled by any other arid region in the world. The dominant element of its vegetation are the ubiquitous karoobossies, a range of hardy scrub bushes that are able to survive the harsh climate.

The sheep that call the area home browse extensively on karoobossies, and Karoo mutton and lamb have an unmistakeable, herbal flavour which you either love or hate. I hail from a family which has always preferred Highveld or Kalahari (i.e. grass-fed) mutton and lamb. Most of my kinfolk have had unpleasant experiences with meat that had an overpowering smell instead of the mild Herbes de Provence flavour for which top-quality Karoo lamb is justifiably famous.

Because it is hard to know exactly where and what a particular lamb or sheep had been grazing at the time of its demise, buying Karoo meat is a bit of a lottery. My solution is to only eat spring lamb from the Karoo – melt-in-the-mouth tender, and too young to have acquired a gamey flavour. The following recipe is a “belt & braces” one, as the buttermilk marinade is sure to get rid of any hondepisbossie odour…

 

Preparation time: 24 hours

Cooking time: 2 ½ hours

Serves 6

Tastes best accompanied by a mature Shiraz

 

2 Leg of Lamb (with the bone in)

2 l Buttermilk

2 Large onions, chopped

1 Tbsp. dried cling peach, finely chopped

1 Tbsp. back bacon, chopped

3 Tbsp. butter

500ml Lamb stock (keep it hot)

175ml Dry red wine

½ Cup cake flour

4 Cloves

½ Tsp. ground coriander

2 Tsp. salt

1 Tsp. ground black pepper

 

  • Marinate the leg of lamb for 24 hours in enough buttermilk to cover it.
  • Rinse the meat under cold running water, and let it drip dry.
  • Brown the meat in the butter in a large saucepan.
  • Add the bacon bits, and fry briefly.
  • Add the onions and sauté them until they become translucent.
  • Transfer to a suitable-sized casserole or Dutch oven, scraping out all the liquids.
  • Sprinkle the meat and onions with some cake flour.
  • Add the hot stock and the remaining ingredients.
  • Simmer for about 2 hours (or longer, if need be. The meat must be almost fall-off-the bone tender).
  • Remove the meat from the casserole and slice it.
  • Thicken the remaining sauce with a paste made from a little flour mixed with some of the hot sauce.
  • Serve with samp or mashed potato, a tomato-and-greens salad and pumpkin fritters.

 

“Only in art will the lion lie down with the lamb, and the rose grow without the thorn.” - Martin Amis.

Pork Char Siu

“I just love Chinese food. My favourite dish is number 27.” - Clement Attlee.

 

Anthony Bourdain, the enfant terrible of foodies, once famously remarked: “I’ve said it before; I’ll say it again. Barbecue may not be the road to world peace, but it’s a start.” Billions of people the world over would no doubt agree with him. From Mexico City to Manila, from Beijing to Buenos Aires and from Dixieland to the DMZ people like to slow cook meat over smouldering wood or charcoal. While the detail might differ the principle is universal, and by far the meat most commonly cooked in this way is pork.    

I must confess that Deep South-style BBQ pork doesn’t blow my hair back: to me, pork should either by smoky or sweet – not both. What does get my juices flowing is the crispy, sweet & spicy style of Southern China. The first among equals is undoubtedly the Cantonese classic, Pork Char Siu. Char Siu literally means “fork roasted” - after the traditional cooking method for the dish: long strips of seasoned boneless pork are skewered with long forks and placed in a covered oven or over a fire. The dish is best cooked over charcoal, but the heat should be indirect.

 

Preparation time: 15 minutes + 12 hours to marinate

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Serves 4

Tastes best accompanied by a Tinta Barroca or Zinfandel

 

800 g Lean pork belly

½ Cup dark soya sauce

½ Cup Chinese rice wine

½ Cup brown sugar

2 Tbsp. honey

2 Tbsp. tomato sauce

2 Tbsp. Hoi Sin sauce

2 Tbsp. red food colouring

1 Tsp. crushed fresh ginger

1 Tsp. Chinese Five Spice

1 Tsp. sesame oil

 

  • Cut the pork (with the grain) into strips roughly 5 cm wide. Place the strips into a large re-sealable plastic bag.
  • Combine the other ingredients in a saucepan over medium-low heat.
  • Stir continually until just combined and slightly warm, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Pour the marinade into the bag with the pork, squeeze all air from the bag, and seal.
  • Turn bag a few times to coat all the pork pieces in marinade.
  • Marinate the pork in a refrigerator for at least 12 hours.
  • Preheat your kettle grill for medium-high heat, and lightly oil the grate.
  • Remove the pork strips from the marinade and shake to remove excess liquid. Retain the remaining marinade in a large, shallow bowl.
  • Arrange the pork strips so that there is at least 2 cm between adjacent strips.
  • Cook the meat on the preheated grill for 10 minutes, turning every 5 minutes.
  • Remove the meat and dunk each piece in the bowl of marinade.
  • Place a small metal container of water onto the grill, arrange the pork strips around it and put the lid on.
  • Continue cooking, turning the pork 2 more times.
  • The meat should be cooked through and glazed after about 20 minutes more.
  • Remove the pork and allow to cool to room temperature.
  • Slice the strips into 3mm slices to show off the crimson ring around the outer edge, fanning out the slices to emphasise the effect if you wish, and serve.
  • Serve with rice, extra Hoy Sin sauce and steamed Chinese greens.

 

“Not everything that can be barbecued counts; and not everything that counts can be barbecued”. – Albert Einstein.

Don't be a chop; eat mutton!

"Mutton is to lamb what a millionaire uncle is to his poverty-stricken nephew." - Des Essarts (1740-1793) French actor.

 

Since the time of Des Essarts, mutton has sadly become the poor relation of lamb. A combination of fashion and risk-averse farmers has led to tender but bland lamb becoming the swan and tougher yet more flavourful mutton the ugly duckling. Don’t get me wrong: I enjoy a melt-in-the-mouth lamb roast as much as the next carnivore, but when it comes to stews, curries and casseroles a grass-fed mature sheep has no equal.

A lamb is a sheep less than a year old, typically slaughtered between the ages of 4 and 12 months. The colour of the meat ranges from pale pink to pale red, and is generally lean. Its mild flavour also makes it versatile. Mutton is sheep that is older than one year; it is usually slaughtered at about three years old. The meat has a deep red color and is much fattier than lamb. The leg and shoulder are most commonly prepared, but the meat is tough, so it's often stewed to help tenderize it. While mutton is a popular meat in the Middle East and Europe, it is neither common nor particularly popular in North America. While it is not for everyone, if you like meats that are stronger in flavour – like duck or venison – chances are you love mutton too.

Earlier this week, the Plat du Jour in Chez Louis was mutton casserole. My body had been telling me for days that it needed vegetable matter, and the sudden cold snap called for some proper comfort food. An old friend had recently brought me half a free-range sheep from Vryburg, and the three neck cutlets and one shank would yield enough meat for a sumptuous casserole. This was how I made it:

 

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 4 hours

Serves 6

Tastes best accompanied by a Merlot or Malbec  

 

1.5 kg Mutton, bone in (shank, neck or back work best)

3 Medium carrots, sliced in roundels

2 Large Onions, coarsely chopped

2 Medium boiling potatoes, peeled and diced

2 Medium Italian tomatoes, peeled and chopped

2 Celery stalks, thinly sliced

3 Large garlic cloves, crushed

2 Large parsnips, peeled and diced

1 Bouquet garni (I use parsley, thyme, sage, rosemary and bay leaves)

200 g Green beans, sliced into 2 cm-long pieces

200 g Amadumbe or Zucchini, diced

150 g Baby button mushrooms, wiped clean

100 g Frozen peas, thawed

300 ml Mutton stock

300 ml Knorr roast lamb gravy

250 ml Dry red wine

25 ml Worcestershire sauce

2 Tbsp. ground coriander

Salt & freshly-ground black pepper for seasoning

 

  • Pre-heat your oven to 125°C.
  • Place the meat in a terracotta casserole or ovenproof dish with a lid.
  • Position the bouquet garni among the pieces of meat.
  • Pour the wine, Worcestershire sauce and the stock over the meat.
  • Distribute the diced tomato, garlic, half the onion, half the celery and a third of the carrots among the pieces of meat.
  • Place the casserole in the oven and slow cook for 3 hours.
  • Meanwhile, make 300 ml of gravy and allow it to cool and thicken.
  • Remove the meat from the casserole and allow it to cool.
  • Discard the bouquet garni.
  • Separate the vegetables and cooking liquid with a strainer. Discard the vegetables.
  • Increase the oven temperature to 180°C.
  • Layer the remaining raw vegetables – except the mushrooms and peas - in the casserole and pour over the strained cooking liquid.
  • Cook for 30 minutes, meanwhile deboning the meat.
  • Remove the casserole from the oven and add the mushrooms, then the peas and finally the meat.
  • Coat the meat with the thickened gravy.
  • Return the casserole to the oven and cook for another 30 minutes.
  • Serve the dish with steamed Basmati rice or creamy mashed potato.

 

“Of three things be wary- of a feather on a cat, a shepherd eating mutton and a guardsman that is fat.” – Mercedes Lackey.

 

Proof that the San revered the Eland

Gouchos working up an appetite

Every dog has its day

Pommie haute cuisine

Kgalagadi love triangle

Gemsbok Schnitzel: fit for a king!

“Lat die Jirre se liefde jou oorspoel solat jou se tanne koud kry van allie lag, en jou se lyf blink vannie Jirre se genade (May the Lord’s love envelop you to such an extent that your teeth get cold from all the laughing, and that your body shines from His grace).” – Old Kalahari benediction.

 

The Oryx or Gemsbok, as it is more commonly known, is a majestic animal. It inhabits arid, open country and can survive in the harshest of conditions. Most common in the Kalahari, this monarch of the antelope fraternity can go without surface water for months, absorbing moisture from what it eats. It is primarily a grazer but will occasionally browse if necessary. Paradoxically, this iconic desert creature produces some of the softest, juiciest flesh you’ll ever eat.

The meat of a gemsbok is in a class of its own. It is smooth in texture – easily mistaken for veal because it is light in colour and unbelievably tender. Gemsbok can substituted for veal and free range beef in many traditional recipes. The steaks are succulent, and the rest of the meat is great for goulash, sausage and biltong. My personal favourite gemsbok dish is one of the flagship items on the menu at Pacha’s, the iconic Pretoria restaurant, to which I’ve added a few twists.

 

Preparation time: 40 minutes

Cooking time: 25 minutes

Serves 4

Tastes best accompanied by a Malbec or Merlot

 

1 kg Gemsbok filet or loin, whole

1 Egg, lightly whisked

1 Cup dry bread crumbs

½ Cup crushed Tuc crackers

¾ Cup cake flour

2 Tbsp. milk

½ Cup sunflower oil

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 Tsp. salt

½ Tsp. freshly ground black pepper

 

  • Cut the steak into 1.5 cm medallions. Cover them with wax paper and transfer to a chopping board.
  • Pound each medallion with a mallet – not too heavily – until its surface area has doubled.
  • In a large shallow dish, combine the flour, salt and pepper.
  • In a separate shallow bowl, beat together the egg and milk.
  • In another shallow dish, combine the bread and cracker crumbs.
  • Dredge the steaks in the seasoned flour.
  • Dip the steaks in the egg mixture, then coat each steak on both sides with the crumbs. Set aside on a clean plate.
  • Refrigerate the steaks for 20 minutes – this will help keep the coating intact.
  • Meanwhile heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.
  • Place the prepared steaks gently in the hot oil. Fry in batches if the pan isn’t big enough.
  • Fry the steaks until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
  • Sprinkle each steak lightly with lemon juice.
  • Serve with roast potato, morula jelly and seasonal vegetables. If you like sauce with your meats, a mushroom or chasseur sauce will complement the dish perfectly.

 

"Fish have water, the Bushmen of the Kalahari have sand, and Houstonians have interior decor." - Simon Hoggart.

 

Steak & Kidney Pie: an English classic

“We in Britain stopped evolving gastronomically with the advent of the pie. Everything beyond that seemed like a brave, frightening new world. We knew the French were up to something across the Channel, but we didn't want anything to do with it.” - John Oliver.

 

To me, steak and kidney pie is as quintessentially English as fish and chips or tepid ale. There’s something about the meltingly soft, suety flavour of a good steak and kidney pie that has made it a favourite for generations for Britons. The dish is history on a plate, being a hardy survivor from what was arguably Britain's biggest food fad. After the invention of the pudding cloth in the early 17th century (it replaced rather ickier earlier containers such as cow stomach linings), Britain went mad for puddings for the best part of 300 years. One plate of this stodge, whether sweet or savoury, could keep British men sustained for hours, while their wives or cooks exulted in being able to leave the dish to cook itself while they got on with other chores.

Steak and kidney was actually a relatively late arrival on the pudding scene: The first recorded recipe appears courtesy of Victorian domestic goddess Mrs Beeton in 1861, who claimed she had been sent it from a reader in Sussex. The flavour combination probably existed before then however: beef pudding was already well established by the 19th century. In Charles Dickens's The Pickwick Papers (1836-7), a character mentions “beef- steak a kidney” pies - though admittedly in the unpleasant, Sweeney Todd- like context of filling the said pies with cat meat!

While they didn't usually include felines, the steak and kidney puddings of yore did often feature one ingredient not commonly seen today – oysters. These briny delights were once so plentiful they were more often eaten by the poor than the rich and were used as a flavouring agent much as onion or garlic are today. Sometimes, mushrooms were used instead – but as mushroom growing wasn’t very well understood or widely practised in Britain till the 20th century. The switch from pudding to pie happened after WW II, when the increasing employment of women meant that such long-winded recipes were simply no longer practical. The flavours of this classic dish remained, however, in the form of the easier-to-make steak and kidney pie. Button mushrooms were by now cheaper and easier to obtain, so they replaced oysters as the third main element in the filling.

This winter, treat your loved one(s) to this iconic dish – it knocks the socks off anything sold in convenience stores, and it won't give you heartburn!

 

Preparation time: 3 hours

Cooking time: 2 hours

Serves 4

Tastes best with a Merlot or Malbec

 

750 g Stewing beef (preferably soft shin), cubed

8 Lamb’s kidneys, cored and diced

300 g Button mushrooms, sliced

2 Potatoes, peeled and cubed

2 Onions, chopped

1 Egg, beaten

75 g Cake flour

2 x 340 ml Cans of lager beer

350 g Puff pastry

2 Tbsp. Italian parsley, chopped

2 Tbsp. butter

2 Tbsp. oil

250 ml Beef stock

Salt and freshly-ground black pepper

 

  • Combine the beef and kidneys in a bowl, and pour the contents of one can of beer over them.
  • Refrigerate for 3 hours.
  • Drain off the beer and discard it.
  • Pre-heat the butter and oil in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat.
  • Mix the flour and seasoning, then toss the meat in the seasoned flour.
  • Fry the onion in the pan until soft and translucent.
  • Add the meat and brown it quickly.
  • Add the stock, mushrooms, parsley and the second can of beer and stir.
  • Cover the pot and let the contents simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally.
  • Add the potatoes. If the sauce is too thick, add more stock.
  • Cook until the potatoes are soft.
  • Pre-heat your oven to 200°C.
  • Roll out the pastry, and cut out a “lid” of sufficient size to cover the pie dish you are going to use, and overlap by about 2.5 cm.
  • Wet the edges of the pie dish and cover it with the pastry. Press the edges down.
  • Brush the pastry all over with the beaten egg.
  • Bake for 15 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown.  

 

“Women used to have time to make meat pies, and had to fake orgasms. Now we can manage the orgasms, but we have to fake the pies. And they call this progress…” – Allison Pearson.

 

Linda's heart-warming oxtail stew

“There is a special thrill in making a stew for the young cook, from wondering what the result is going to be, and whether any flavour save that of onion will survive the competition in the mixture.” – Annie Besant.

 

Last year I posted a recipe for oxtail stew with a mild curry sauce. With the first big chill of 2016 upon us, cooks all over the country are probably pondering which comfort food to make for their loved ones tonight. The recipe below is my interpretation of an unforgettable oxtail stew made for us by my sister-in-law Linda a few years ago. She hails from Lady Grey in the Eastern Cape mountains, and therefore knows a thing or two about making comfort food. I can recommend this one unreservedly.

 

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 4 hours

Serves 6 – 8

Tastes best accompanied by a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon or a Bordeaux blend

 

2 kg Oxtail cutlets

1 ½ kg Potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped

750 g Carrots, peeled and chopped 3 cm thick roundels

2 Medium red onions, sliced

400 g Chopped Italian tomato (tinned Roma also works well)

4 Cloves garlic, crushed

1 Celery stalk, chopped

3 Bay leaves

bouquet garni consisting of thyme, sage, parsley and marjoram

2 Cups bread flour

1 Cup red wine

2 Tbsp. olive oil

750 ml Oxtail or beef stock

Salt and pepper

Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

 

  • Sift the flour into a shallow bowl. Season well with salt and pepper.
  • Dredge the meat in the flour, shaking off any excess.
  • Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  • When the oil is hot, add the meat, and brown on all sides – this should take about 3 minutes per side.
  • When all of the meat is browned, remove the meat from the pan and set aside on a plate.
  • Reduce the heat to medium.
  • Place the garlic, celery and onions in the pot and sweat them for 5 minutes.
  • Add the wine and stock to the pot.
  • When the liquid reaches boiling point, add the browned meat, tomatoes, bay leaves and bouquet garni.
  • Bring to a simmer and cook over low heat for 2 ½ hours.
  • Remove the bay leaves and bouquet garni.
  • Add the carrots and potatoes and simmer for another 45 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and check the seasoning. The meat should be fall-off-the-bone tender, but not actually fall off the bone unaided.
  • This stew is equally tasted served with samp, rice, mash or polenta; the choice is yours. Serve garnished with the chopped parsley.

 

“I’ve travelled the world, and I am happy to say that if America is not still the great melting pot, it is at least still a chunky stew.”  - Phillip Glass.

Asado de Tira: Lo Mejor!

“Men love to barbecue. Men will cook, if danger is involved.” – Rita Rudner.

On Valentine’s Day I fired up my braai with hardwood charcoal and treated my better half to a proper Asado de Tira and a bottle of Argentine Malbec. This brought back fond memories of the “most American city in Europe”: Buenos Aires. Let’s be clear on this – even the most chauvinistic Afrikaner has to admit that Argentinians know a thing or two about braaiing meat!

Asado is a Spanish term for cooking meat over glowing coals, and is typical of the temperate South American countries (Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina), especially the latter. The asado is the most popular social gathering in Argentina and no weekend is truly complete without it. The vast grassy plain (la pampa) which extends for hundreds of miles from Buenos Aires is ideal for cattle ranching. The cows and horses that thrive here gave birth to the gaucho culture where the open fire was the only cooking option and meat the only dependable source of food.

What makes Argentine beef so special? Firstly the terroir: lazy, well-fed cattle that have never been near a feedlot are bound to taste great. Secondly the spicing (i.e. no spice at all, just lots of coarse barbecue salt). A major factor is undoubtedly the slow cooking which allows the fats to cook through the meat, leaving it leaner and tastier. Here is how a skilled Asador does it:

  • The coals are spread out under the sides of the parilla (grill) in a rectangular shape, with none in the middle, creating a gentle, even heat from all sides.
  • A fire is kept going on the side to ensure that there will be enough coals for at least an hour. This is important, for slow cooking is key. The temperature is right when one hears a gentle but constant sizzling.
  • The meat is cooked bone-side down/fat up, for most of the time, which can be around 45 minutes in total. It should never be cut, and turned only once.

Take the plunge this weekend, and try out my Asado de Tira with Chimichurri Sauce. Your family will thank you – and hopefully me too!

 

Preparation time: 30 minutes (to rest the meat and get the fire ready)

Cooking time: 45 minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Tastes best accompanied by a Malbec, Tempranillo or Tinta Barroca

 

Chimichurri Sauce:

2 Garlic cloves

4 Tbsp. parsley, finely chopped

1 Tbsp. dried oregano

1 Tsp. paprika

½ Tsp. onion powder

½ Tsp. sea salt

½ Tsp. black pepper

½ Cup olive oil

¼ Cup red wine vinegar

 

  • Place all the solid ingredients in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
  • Transfer the mixture to a bowl, and stir in the oil and vinegar.
  • Taste and add salt as desired.

 

The ribs:

4 Racks of beef short rib, about 250 mm long, 100 mm wide and 75 mm thick. Ask you butcher to cut it from ribs no broader than 50 mm thick; i.e. from the thinner side of the ribs.

1 Cup coarse sea salt

 

  • Dry the short ribs with a paper towel, then with sprinkle coarse sea salt on all sides.
  • Let the ribs rest at room temperature until the coals are ready.
  • Build a fire in your braai with good-quality hardwood charcoal.
  • When the fire is ready, push the heated charcoal to the sides so that it surrounds the grid. This has the effect of regulating the heat to medium, and prevents the meat from burning.
  • Lay the short ribs bone-side down and cook about 30 minutes. When small pools of juice begin to form on the surface on the meat, turn them so that each of the three meaty sides grills for about 5 minutes.
  • Argentinean-style short ribs are usually cooked to medium well. Serve immediately with grilled bread or mealies (corn on the cob) and chimichurri sauce.Top of Form

 “Barbecue may not be the way to world peace, but it’s a start.” – Anthony Bourdain.

 

Eland wors

“Lions cannot afford to hunt small rodents – they would starve to death even if they succeeded. They have to kill eland and zebra, which are big enough to justify their investment. Sadly, in corporates many senior executives are big on chipmunks” – Newt Gingrich.

Venison used to have major snob value, because a) you needed to be a hunter (or poacher) to obtain it, and b) it was only available during the winter hunting season. Thanks to a thriving game farming industry, it has now become accessible to mere mortals like me who don’t have Nimrod’s blood in our veins. Many good butcheries in Pretoria, like Uitkyk and Hokaai, now offer venison on a regular basis. I also make a point of stopping at speciality stores like Toeka se Dae near Bela-Bela, Bokkie se Slaghuis in Lydenburg and Bosveld Slaghuis in Hoedspruit when I am in their vicinities.

On the way back from the Waterberg last week I popped in at Toeka se Dae, and bought some eland mince which was soon transformed into a wors of note. The meat of an eland is superb; surprisingly tender and juicy for a free-ranging wild animal. It resembles lean free-range beef. The meat is low in fat, and very juicy and tender. Eland contains about half the calories of beef and one-sixth the fat. When making eland wors, you can use your favourite boerewors recipe. I prefer adding a few tweaks that – I believe – really bring out the best in the eland. The key main difference is that I use mutton meat and fat instead of pork. Try it; you won’t be disappointed!

 

Time required: 1 hour.

Equipment required: Meat mincer with sausage stopper.

Casings: I prefer using real intestinal casings, available from most butcheries – pork for thick wors; mutton for thin.

Note on quantities: Making wors is like baking – follow the recipe to a tee!

 

1.5 kg Eland (or blue wildebeest) mince.

500 g Fatty mutton mince. I actually prefer using lamb riblets with lots of fat, and dicing the meat and fat finely – it gives the sausage a nice coarse texture.

20 g Whole coriander.

5ml Ground all spice.

5ml Ground paprika

4ml Ground cloves.

4ml Ground nutmeg.

50ml Worcestershire sauce

50ml Red wine vinegar.

10 ml Ground white pepper.

15ml Salt

10ml Garlic salt

2 m Pork intestinal casing. Soak this in fresh water while making the wors mixture, and blow it up using a cold drink straw. This makes it easier to fit the intestine over the stopper nozzle.

 

  • Toast the coriander seeds in a medium hot pan until their colour starts to darken.
  • Allow to cool a bit, then grind in a pestle and mortar or a pepper mill.
  • Mix all the ingredients (except the casing). It helps to divide everything into three; mix the three lots separately and then combine and mix again.
  • Spend at least 10 minutes hand-mixing everything thoroughly.
  • Make a small patty (the size of a R5 coin) with some of the mixture.
  • Fry it in a small pan, and taste to check whether it is salt enough. Add salt if required.
  • Fit the casing over the nozzle of your mincer’s sausage attachment, not more than a metre at a time.
  • Stuff the wors mixture into the casing, taking care not to stuff it too tightly.
  • When the last of the mince has gone in, stuff in two slices of old bread. This will ensure you force all the meat out of the mincer, and save you a lot of PT when cleaning up!
  • If, like me, you’re a perfectionist, tie knots at both ends of each length of wors.
  • Divide the wors into lengths that suit your requirements, and put them in airtight freezer bags.
  • Let the wors rest in a cool place for 4 – 6 hours before cooking or freezing – this allows the combination of flavours to spread evenly throughout its length.

“Never lose sight of an antelope for a dashing squirrel.” – Patrice Lumumba.  

 

Pumbaa, what if he grows up & he's not vegetarian?

Adding insult to injury

A charming guy knows a thing or two about Bourguignon

Igor, did you remember to bring the Stroganoff recipe?

Soon I'll be a star, and he'll be Jamon Serrano

You say “gammon”, I say “jamón”…

“As in some Irish houses, where things are so-so, one gammon hangs up for show. But for eating a single rasher of that, they’d as soon think of eating the pan it was fried in.” – Oliver Goldsmith.

I have always loved cured meat, and it all started with the ham that was a permanent fixture on our Christmas Lunch menu, along with a turkey or Cornish Hen and a leg of lamb. We had German neighbours back in the day, and the late Mr Haessler taught my dad the secrets of making artisanal ham, bacon, brawn and salami, but we were not ready for blood sausage yet! With the passing years I became acquainted with various other kinds of charcuterie: Parma ham, Black Forest ham, Coppa, Kassler rib, Serrano ham and the incomparable Jamón Ibérico. To me, a Christmas lunch would never be complete without a glazed gammon or ham.

So what exactly is the difference between a gammon and a ham, I hear you ask, or is it the same thing? Let me put it like this: all gammons are hams, but not all hams are gammons. Gammon (from the Spanish jamón) is the name given to the meat from the hind legs of a pig that has been cured in the same way as bacon, i.e. brined and smoked. Ham can be made from several cuts of pork – including the hind legs - and is sold cooked or dry-cured and ready for eating. Gammon, on the other hand, is sold raw and needs to be cooked. Once a gammon is cooked, it can be called a ham and may be sold as a gammon ham.

This recipe really lifts gammon a couple of notches by introducing a fruity note, and the honey/mustard glazing is a winner. Try it this Festive Season!

 

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 4 hours

Serves 12

Tastes best accompanied by a Malbec or Merlot

 

The ham:

A smallish gammon joint of 2 – 3 kg, deboned

2 Large onions, peeled and halved

8 Cloves, plus extra for studding the gammon

4 Bay leaves

1l Fresh orange juice

3l Water

The glazing:

120g Demerara sugar

3 Tbsp. honey

3 Tbsp. orange marmalade

2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

2 Tbsp. whole grain mustard

The juice of 2 oranges

The zest of 3 oranges

 

  • Place the gammon in a large, deep pot and cover with water.
  • Bring it to the boil, then remove the gammon from the heat and drain.
  • Return the gammon to the pot, then pour in enough orange juice to cover half of the gammon. Add enough cold water to cover the gammon completely.
  • Push two cloves into each onion half and put the halves in the pot, along with the bay leaves. Cover with a lid and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
  • Cook gently for three hours, adding more hot water as necessary.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  • Remove the gammon from the pan and place it in a roasting tin.
  • Remove the skin, leaving behind a thin layer of fat.
  • Score the gammon in a diamond pattern with the tip of a sharp knife. Stud the centre of each diamond with a clove.
  • Mix all of the glaze ingredients in a bowl until well combined. Spoon the glaze evenly over the gammon.
  • Roast the gammon in the oven for 45 minutes, basting frequently with the glaze and pan juices, until the gammon is cooked through and golden-brown all over.
  • Set aside to rest for 20 minutes, then carve into thick slices to serve. Alternatively, the gammon can be eaten cold. Serve with apple mousse and sauerkraut.

“I do not like green eggs and ham. I do not like them, Sam I am.” – Dr Seuss.

Beef Stroganoff

“The beef is so undercooked, it’s starting to eat the salad!” – Gordon Ramsay.

My first experience involving Beef Stroganoff was one big embarrassment; straight out of Mr Bean. It was my first date with a girl whom I had fancied for a long time, and I wanted everything to be just right. I took her out for supper at the cosy Restaurant Europa in Sea Point, where the food was reputed to be excellent. For a country bumpkin I was doing well etiquette-wise, until it was time to order the main courses. The lady ordered a sirloin, medium-to-well done. The waiter had mentioned that Beef Stroganoff was one of the specialities of the house, so – never having had it in my life – I ordered it, and added that it should be medium-to-well done too! Trying unsuccessfully not to giggle, the waiter pointed out that Stroganoff was a stewed dish which was served at the chef’s discretion…

In the 32 years since I have become a tad more knowledgeable about food, and – despite an inauspicious start - have remained fond of Beef Stroganoff. Here is how I would make it for a special occasion:

 

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves 2

Tastes best accompanied by a Merlot or Malbec

 

300 g Beef loin, trimmed and cut into 1 cm thick medallions

250 g Mushrooms; wild ones if possible, otherwise Portobello or brown mushrooms

Zest of ½ fresh lemon

200 g White long grain rice

1 medium red onion, peeled and finely chopped

1 Clove garlic, peeled and crushed

½ Tbsp. Cocktail gherkins, finely chopped

2 Tbsp. Italian parsley leaves, roughly chopped

1 Tbsp. Italian parsley stems, finely chopped

200ml Crème Frâiche

1 Tbsp. paprika

1 Tbsp. butter

75ml Brandy

Extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly-ground black pepper

 

  • Slice the beef medallions into elongated strips.
  • Wipe the mushrooms clean and chop them roughly.
  • Cook the rice in a heavy-based saucepan until it is still slightly undercooked, and drain it.
  • Put the rice back in the pan, cover with aluminium foil and set aside to steam - this will give you incredibly light and fluffy rice.
  • Heat a large saucepan on a medium heat and add a generous amount of olive oil.
  • Add the onions and garlic and cook for about 10 minutes until softened and golden.
  • Remove from the heat and spoon the onions and garlic out of the pan onto a plate. Set aside.
  • Season the meat well with salt, pepper and the paprika.
  • Rub and massage these flavourings into the meat.
  • Place the saucepan back on a high heat and pour in some more olive oil.
  • Fry the mushrooms in the oil for a few minutes until they start to brown.
  • Add the meat and fry for a minute or 2 before adding the parsley stems and the cooked onion and garlic.
  • Toss and add the butter and brandy.
  • You don't have to light the hot brandy, but flaming does give an interesting flavour so I always do this.
  • Once the flames die down, or after a couple of minutes of simmering, stir in the zest and all but 1 tablespoon of the crème Frâiche and season to taste.
  • Continue simmering for a few minutes. Any longer than this and the meat will toughen up - it doesn't need long, as it's been cut up so small.

Serve the fluffy rice on one big plate and the Stroganoff on another. Simply spoon the remaining Crème Frâiche over the Stroganoff, then sprinkle over the sliced gherkins and the parsley.

“The beef is so undercooked, a good vet can still save it!” – Gordon Ramsay.

Boeuf Bourguignon: the First Lady of stews

"A pessimist is someone who looks at the land of milk and honey, and only sees cholesterol and calories." - James Beard. 

The world's favourite stew is undoubtedly this classic from Burgundy. Boeuf Bourguignon elevates the simple stew to an art form and – despite the lengthy directions – is quite simple to make. As the wine is a key part of the final product, you should use a wine that you would drink -- not “cooking wine”. And the better the cut of meat, the better the stew.

 

Preparation time: 1 hour

Cooking time: 4 hours

Serves 6

Tastes best accompanied by the same (or similar) wine used for the marinade

 

For the stew:

1.5 kg Beef topside or silverside, cubed

200 g Bacon lardons

1 Medium carrot, peeled and sliced

1 Medium onion, peeled and sliced

2 Garlic cloves, crushed

1 Sprig fresh thyme

1 Fresh bay leaf

2 Tbsp. cake flour

750ml Red wine – Pinot Noir is traditional, but I quite like Cabernet Sauvignon or a Bordeaux blend with this dish

750ml Beef stock

1 Tbsp. tomato paste

1 Tsp. salt

¼ Tsp. black pepper, freshly ground

1 Tbsp. olive oil

For the braised onions:

18 White pearl onions, peeled

1 Bay leaf

1 Sprig thyme

2 Sprigs parsley

1 ½ Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 ½ Tbsp. olive oil

150ml Beef stock

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Sautéed Mushrooms:

450 g Portobello mushrooms, quartered

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 Tbsp. olive oil

 

  • Simmer the lardons for ten minutes in 1l of water.
  • Drain and dry the lardons and reserve.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 220°C.
  • Put the tablespoon of olive oil in a large ovenproof casserole and warm over moderate heat.
  • Sauté the lardons for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly.
  • Remove to a side dish with a slotted spoon.
  • Dry the pieces of beef and sauté them in the hot oil and bacon fat until nicely browned on all sides.
  • Once browned, remove to the side plate with the bacon.
  • In the same oil/fat, sauté the onion and the carrot until softened.
  • Pour off the fat and return the lardons and the meat to the casserole with the carrots and onion.
  • Season the contents of the casserole with the salt and pepper and sprinkle with the flour.
  • Set the uncovered casserole in the oven for four minutes.
  • Toss the contents of the casserole again and return to the hot oven for 4 more minutes.
  • Now, lower the heat to 180°C and remove the casserole from the oven.
  • Add the wine and enough stock so that the meat is just covered.
  • Add the tomato paste, garlic and herbs.
  • Bring to a simmer on the top of the stove.
  • Cover and place in the oven, adjusting the heat so that the liquid simmers very slowly, for three to four hours.
  • The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.
  • While the meat is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms and set them aside till needed.
  • Heat the butter and oil in a large skillet and place the onions in the skillet.
  • Sauté over medium heat for about 10 minutes, rolling the onions about so they brown as evenly as possible.
  • Pour in the stock, season to taste, add the herbs, and cover.
  • Simmer over low heat for about 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but retain their shape.
  • Remove the herbs and set the onions aside.
  • For the mushrooms, heat the butter and oil over high heat in a large saucepan.
  • As soon as the foam begins to subside add the mushrooms and shake the pan for about five minutes.
  • As soon as they have browned lightly, remove from the heat.
  • When the meat is tender, remove the casserole from the oven.
  • Empty its contents into a sieve set over a saucepan.
  • Wash out the casserole and return the beef and bacon to it.
  • Distribute the mushrooms and onions over the meat.
  • Skim the fat off the sauce and simmer it for 1 – 2 minutes, skimming any additional fat off the surface.
  • You should be left with about 2 – 2 ½ cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.
  • If the sauce is too thick, add a little stock.
  • If the sauce is too thin, boil it down to reduce to the right consistency.
  • Taste for seasoning.
  • Pour the sauce over the meat and vegetables.
  • If you are serving immediately, place the covered casserole over medium low heat and simmer 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Serve in the casserole or on a warm platter, surrounded by noodles or mashed potato, and garnished with fresh parsley.

 

"It was in France that I first learnt about food. That the selection of a perfect pear, a ripe piece of brie, the freshest butter or highest quality cream were as important as how the meal you were going to serve was actually cooked." - Robert carrier.

Venison Wellington

“Why is the hunter who shoots a deer for venison subject to more criticism than the person who buys a ham from a supermarket? Overall, it is probably the intensively reared pig who has suffered more.” – Peter Singer.

Venison Wellington combines a classic English recipe with the wonderful taste of South African game. I recommend using Gemsbok or Kudu for this purpose because of their superb game flavour, but if you prefer something closer to the original, Wildebeest of Buffalo will work just as well. The proverbial “cherry on top” is getting hold of wild Porcini mushrooms, which adds immeasurably to the flavour of the dish.

Preparation time: 1 ½ hours

Cooking time: 1 hour 45 minutes

Serves 6

Tastes best accompanied by a Malbec or Tinta Barroca

The meat:

1 Gemsbok or Kudu loin filet, about 1 kg, cut into 2 similar-sized and –shaped pieces

300 g Portobello mushrooms

6 Slices Prosciutto or Serrano ham

2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

2-4 Herb pancakes - see method below

500 g Puff pastry

3 Egg yolks, beaten

2 Tbsp. olive oil

For the herb pancakes:

100 g Bread flour

1 Egg

250ml Milk

2 Tbsp. Italian parsley, chopped

1 Tbsp. French chives, chopped

5ml Canola oil

For the port sauce:

300ml Tawny Port

600ml Chicken stock

1 Shallot, finely chopped

1 Tbsp. butter

1 Sprig of thyme

  • First make 4 herb pancakes: sift the flour into a bowl. Beat the egg and milk, and gradually whisk the mixture into the flour until smooth. Stir in ¼ of the snipped chives and chopped parsley just before cooking.
  • Heat a drop of oil in a large non-stick frying pan and swirl around some of the batter to make a thin pancake. When the pancake is done, make another 3 and set aside. The pancakes can be made 2 days in advance.
  • Heat half the oil in a frying pan and quickly seal the venison on both sides over high heat.
  • Remove the meat from the pan, brush all over with the mustard and leave to cool.
  • Mince the mushrooms in a food processor.
  • Place the pan back on the hob, add the rest of the oil and re-heat to medium-high.
  • Add the mushrooms, season them with salt and pepper and fry for 5 minutes until the excess moisture has evaporated and you have a thick paste.
  • Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl and leave to cool.
  • Lay 2-3 large sheets of cling film overlapping each other on a clean surface.
  • Lay the slices of prosciutto, overlapping, lengthways in 2 rows of 3.
  • Place one of the pieces of venison in the middle of the prosciutto, and spread the mushroom paste over the venison.
  • Sandwich the mushroom paste with the other piece of venison.
  • Roll the resulting elongated “hero roll” into a tight package with the prosciutto and leave to chill in the fridge.
  • Lay out another couple of pieces of cling film. Trim the pancakes into squares and lay them overlapping on the cling film so they form a large rectangle, big enough to wrap the meat in.
  • Brush the pancakes all over with egg yolk.
  • Remove the cling film from the prosciutto-wrapped meat and place the meat on top of the pancakes. Tuck the ends in and trim any excess.
  • Lay more cling film on top, and roll the package into a log. Tie the ends of cling film to keep the package tight and leave in the in the freezer for an hour.
  • When ready to cook, heat your oven to 220°C. Remove the cling film and brush the Wellington all over with egg yolk.
  • Place it on a baking tray lined with baking paper and lightly score the top. The traditional way is to score flower shapes on the exterior, but be warned: this requires skill and a steady hand.
  • Bake for 50 minutes for medium rare, reducing the heat to 190°C if the pastry becomes too brown.
  • Remove from the oven to rest for 20 minutes. (If you prefer the meat well done, turn the oven off after 40 minutes and leave to rest inside).
  • Trim the end of the pastry, carefully carve in slices about 3 - 4cm thick and serve with parsnip mash and baby carrots and peas.
  • To make the port sauce, sweat the finely chopped shallot in a little butter with a thyme sprig. Pour in the 300ml port and reduce it by two-thirds, then add the fresh chicken stock and reduce again by two-thirds until syrupy. Strain into another saucepan ready to be reheated.

“The hyena chasing two antelopes at the same time will go to bed hungry.” – Malian proverb.

Slow-roast Leg of Warthog: Hakuna Mutata!

“Your Majesty, I gravel at your feet.” Pumba to Simba in The Lion King.

Many of my “Stadsjapie” (City Slicker) kith & kin happily munch away on venison biltong and droëwors, but are wary of the cooked version. If I ever had to try and win over one of these doubting Thomases, I would use slow roasted leg of (young) warthog as bait. The dish is a delightful hybrid of my mother’s Sunday roast leg of lamb and a hunter’s bush braai. It is what good food should be: simple, yet tasty and it works equally well with bush pig or even plump smaller buck. This is my take on it:

Prepation time: 1 hour 20 minutes

Cooking time: 3 hours

Serves 6

Tastes best accompanied by a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah

 

1 Small leg of warthog; no more than 2.5 kg.

75 g Pork lard, cut into 10 small dice.

5 Large cloves of garlic, peeled and halved.

1 Tablespoon dark soy sauce (or Worcestershire sauce).

½ Tablespoon of olive oil.

½ Tablespoon coarse sea salt.

½ Tablespoon each of freshly ground coriander and black pepper.

1 Tablespoon each of roughly chopped rosemary, parsley, thyme and sage.

4 Bay leaves.

1 Large onion; roughly chopped.

300 ml Red wine.

300 ml Mutton stock.

6ashers streaky bacon.

  • With a long, thin knife make 10 shallow holes in the meat.
  • Force a piece of garlic and a piece of lard into each hole.
  • Baste the lamb all over with a mixture of soy sauce and oil. Sprinkle generously with a mixture of the salt and spices.
  • Allow to rest in a cool place for at least an hour.
  • Meanwhile, heat your oven to 120 degrees Centigrade.
  • Spread the onion and herbs on the bottom of a roasting dish and pour in the wine and stock.
  • Place the prepared warthog leg in the dish and cover with the bacon rashers.
  • Cover the dish with heavy tin foil.
  • Put in the oven and leave to cook gently for 2 ½ hours.
  • Remove the foil and set the temperature at 180 degrees.
  • Baste the meat with some of the cooking juices and roast for 30 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to rest for at least 20 minutes before carving.
  • Meanwhile, pour the sauce from the dish through a sieve to remove the herbs.
  • Reduce to no more than 250 ml over high heat in a saucepan. Add a little gravy powder if the liquid is not thick enough for your liking.   

Carve the meat and serve with green beans, roast potatoes and a tangy side dish like pan-fried pineapple rings or beetroot salad.

“It’s times like these that my friend Timon here says: you’ve gotta put your behind in your past.” – Pumba to Simba in the Lion King.

 

Marilyn Monroe was Castroville Ca's 1st Artichoke Queen

Tournedos: a cut above the rest

Boertjies with Boeries

Springboks in the Kgalagadi

La Loren was famous for her veal

Vittelo al Limone

“It’s a veal substitute. It’s Japanese, actually, soya beans and essence of cow. We’re giving it a try, but it’s a bit of a disappointment, I’m afraid. In fact it’s no substitute at all.” – Polly Sherman (Fawlty Towers).

One of my greatest frustrations with being a South African is that veal is harder to come by here than an honest Cabinet member. The little that is produced locally is all bought by the premier Italian restaurants. This results in a) real veal being extremely expensive, and b) unscrupulous restaurateurs selling tenderised steak (or worse) as “veal”. Fortunately there is a worthy substitute that won’t ruin your grocery budget. During the hunting season (May to end August) lots of butcheries offer Gemsbok (Oryx) steak for sale, and with proper preparation this can be turned into scallops even more delicate and tasty than the Real McCoy. Regardless of whether you use veal or Gemsbok, this dish will have your guests clamouring for more:

Preparation time: 35 minutes

Cooking time: 25 minutes

Serves 4

Tastes best accompanied by a Sangiovese or Pinotage

4 Veal or Oryx escalopes, pounded thin

4 Tbsp butter

175ml Chicken stock

1 Tsp capers

1 Tbsp beurre manié (a mixture of 1 part butter and 2 parts flour)

1 Large lemon, thinly sliced, for garnishing

2 Tbsp parsley, finely chopped

  • Sprinkle the escalopes with half the lemon juice and set aside for 30 minutes, basting occasionally.
  • Dry them with paper towel and rub them with salt and pepper.
  • Melt the butter in a large frying pan.
  • Add the escalopes to the pan and fry them over medium heat until they are lightly and evenly browned.
  • Transfer them to a plate and keep warm while you make the sauce.
  • Pour the remaining lemon juice and the stock into the pan and bring to the boil, stirring constantly.
  • Boil rapidly for 5 minutes. The stock should now be reduced by a quarter.
  • Reduce the heat to moderate, add the capers and return the escalopes to the pan. Cook for 1 minute.
  • Stir in the beurre manié, a little at a time, until the sauce thickens.
  • Transfer to a serving dish, garnish with the lemon and parsley, and serve at once.

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

I love this dish served with fluffy mashed potatoes, haricot beans and baby carrots.

“It got rather held up on the boat on the way over from Japan, er, Norway. It’s a sort of a Japo-Scandinavian imitation veal substitute, and I’m afraid that’s the last slice anyway.” – Basil Fawlty (Fawlty Towers).

The supreme venison pot pie

“Many paleface words have a different meaning to my people. For example, ‘vegetarian’ is our word for a useless hunter.” – Oglala Sioux Chief Red Cloud (allegedly).

Most Afrikaner men seem to be descendants of Nimrod.Hunting has overtaken rugby as our national winter sport, and as I write this many of my friends are stalking or ambushing buck on game farms in the Bushveld, Kalahari or Karoo. Although I stopped hunting many years ago, I am in favour of the biltong hunting industry because a) I love venison, and b) game farming has saved many species from extinction, and restored marginal land ruined by inappropriate farming methods. Most hunters make biltong and droëwors from their quarry, with venison braai wors, cabanossi and salami the main secondary uses. Surprisingly few of my mates actually eat venison on its own in the form of steaks, chops or roasts because of the supposedly “gamey” taste. While I strongly disagree with this view, I respect it. Consequently I like to entertain my Philistine friends on a traditional venison pie with a few twists of my own. Try this one out:

Preparation time: 24 hours

Cooking time: 8 hours

Serves 6

Tastes best with a powerful red wine like Shiraz or Cabernet Sauvignon

1 Leg of Springbok or shoulder of Impala or Blesbok

250 g Streaky bacon, roughly chopped

1 Large onion, chopped

2 Cloves garlic, crushed

1 Tbsp cake flour

500ml Brown malt vinegar

500ml Red wine

150ml Red wine vinegar

50ml Ruby port

4 Bay leaves

8 Whole cloves

1 Tsp whole black peppercorns

1 Tsp ground coriander

1 Cube of beef stock

300ml Roast meat gravy

15ml Sunflower or Canola oil

Salt and ground black pepper for seasoning

2 Sheets puff pastry

1 Egg, beaten

  • Place the meat in a large bowl. Cover with the 500ml brown vinegar, and submerge the bay leaves in the vinegar.
  • Marinate in a cool place for 24 hours. Turn the meat occasionally.
  • Remove the meat from the marinade, rinse and place it in the pot to be used for cooking it.
  • Add the red wine, red wine vinegar, port and spices. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Put on the lid, and bring the pot to the boil. Add the stock cube.
  • Turn the heat down to the minimum needed to keep it at boiling point. Cook for at least 6 hours.
  • If the broth reduces too much, add some boiling water.
  • When the meat can be pulled from the bone, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool.
  • Reserve about 2 cups of the cooking liquid.
  • Remove all bones and cartilage.
  • Fry the onion, bacon and garlic in the oil in the pot used to cook the meat.
  • When the onion is translucent, stir in the flour.
  • Add the venison and season if needed.
  • Add the cooking liquid and gravy in turn, stirring continually.
  • When all the liquid has been mixed in, transfer the mixture to a large oven dish, or a number of individual pot pie dishes.
  • Heat the oven to 200˚C.
  • Allow the pie filling(s) to cool before placing the pastry on top.
  • Egg wash the rim(s) of the dish(es).
  • Cover with pastry.
  • If you like, you can decorate the top with shapes cut out from left-over pastry.
  • Make two incisions in the pastry to allow steam to escape.
  • Bake for 30 – 45 minutes. The pastry should be a golden brown.

Serve with stewed quince or apple, or alternatively quince (or marula) jelly or apple mousse.

“People who have deer heads on their walls say they have them because the animal is so handsome. I think my mother is attractive, but I have photos of her.” – Ellen DeGeneres.

For boerie or for wors...

“Lawsuit: a process that you enter as a pig, and leave as a sausage.” Ambrose Bierce.

I have fond memories of the days when owner-managed butcheries still dominated the retail meat market in South Africa. There is something deeply gratifying about buying from an individual (not a brand) whom you know and trust. In braai-obsessed South Africa, a butchery’s boerewors was its “shop window” – businesses like Emmarentia and Groenkloof Butcheries became household names because of their tasty wors. I still buy from my favourite suppliers, but in recent years I have invested considerable amounts of time and money in learning how to make my own. Here is my fool-proof recipe for an old-style, flavourful boerie that your guests will love:

Time required: 1 hour.

Equipment required: Meat mincer with sausage stopper.

Casings: I prefer using real intestinal casings, available from most butcheries – pork for thick wors; mutton for thin.

Note on quantities: Making wors is like baking – follow the recipe to a tee!

1 kg Lean beef mince.

500 g Pork mince.

250 g Mutton stomach fat or pork belly fat. Place in the freezer for about 20 minutes beforehand to firm up the fat.

20 g Whole coriander.

4 ml Ground cloves.

5 ml Ground all spice.

4 ml Ground nutmeg.

5 ml Crushed garlic.

5 ml Ground black pepper.

15 ml Salt.

40 ml Worcestershire sauce.

40 ml Red wine vinegar.

2 m Pork intestinal casing. Soak this in fresh water while making the wors mixture, and blow it up using a cold drink straw. This makes it easier to fit the intestine over the stopper nozzle.

  • Toast the coriander seeds in a medium hot pan until their colour starts to darken.
  • Allow to cool a bit, then grind in a pestle and mortar or a pepper mill.
  • Chop the fat into small cubes, just under 1 cm³.
  • Mix all the ingredients (except the casing). It helps to divide everything into three; mix the three lots separately and then combine and mix again.
  • Spend at least 10 minutes hand-mixing everything thoroughly.
  • Make a small patty (the size of a R5 coin) with some of the mixture.
  • Fry it in a small pan, and taste to check whether it is salt enough. Add salt if required.
  • Fit the casing over the nozzle of your mincer’s sausage attachment, not more than a metre at a time.
  • Stuff the wors mixture into the casing, taking care not to stuff it too tightly.
  • When the last of the mince has gone in, stuff in two slices of old bread. This will ensure you force all the meat out of the mincer, and save you a lot of PT when cleaning up!
  • If, like me, you’re a perfectionist, tie knots at both ends of each length of wors.
  • Divide the wors into lengths that suit your requirements, and put them in airtight freezer bags.
  • Let the wors rest in a cool place for 2 – 3 hours before cooking or freezing – this allows the combination of flavours to spread evenly throughout its length.  

“A highbrow is the kind of person who looks at a sausage and thinks of Picasso.” – AP Herbert.  

 

Tournedos Chasseur: the hunter's filet

"To eat steak rare represents both a nature and a morality." - Roland Barthes.

"Tournedos" is a French term for a thick slice of steak from the centre of a fillet. The dish is relatively simple to make – it boils down to frying slices of fillet in butter, and serving it on toast with a mushroom and wine sauce. Like most simple recipes, the key to success is using the best quality ingredients.  

Preparation time: ½ hour.

Cooking time: 30 minutes.

Serves 2 adults.

Tastes best accompanied by a Pinot Noir, Malbec or Bordeaux blend.

1 Finely-chopped medium onion.

125 g Chopped button mushrooms.

50 g Cake flour.

1 Cup dry red wine.

1 Tablespoon tomato purée.

½ Cup of beef stock.

4 Tablespoon fresh cream.

1 Tablespoon brandy.

3 Tablespoon olive oil.

4 Tablespoon butter.

Two slices of white bread.

Salt and black pepper.

2 Sprigs of flat leaf parsley, chopped.

2 Fillet tournedos, about 250 g each.

  • First make the sauce. Melt 2 Tablespoon butter and a tablespoon of olive oil in a piping hot saucepan, and sauté the onion in it. Add the mushrooms, and fry for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with a small quantity of cake flour to help thicken the sauce.
  • Whisk in the red wine, tomato purée and beef stock, and cook until reduced by half.
  • Add the cream and brandy and heat through.
  • Set aside in a warm place.
  • Heat the remaining olive oil and butter in a large saucepan, and fry the two slices of white bread until brown and crisp.
  • Keep the fried slices of bread warm as well.
  • Turn up the heat, and fry the tournedos for about 2 minutes per side.
  • Season with salt and black pepper.
  • Arrange the meat on the toasted bread, pour over a generous quantity of the sauce, and garnish with chopped parsley.

Being quite a rich dish, it is best served with a salad and plain vegetables like steamed asparagus and/or baby carrots boiled with salt, ginger and mint.

“It is the sauce that distinguishes a good chef. The Saucier is the soloist in the orchestra of a great kitchen.” – Fernand Point.

Making Veal Saltimbocca with Pan-fried Artichokes

“The trouble with Italian food is that five or six days later you’re hungry again.” – George Miller.

In South Africa, getting hold of real veal is a major challenge. Because not many people eat it regularly in their homes, the supply is limited. The little that is available tends to be snapped up by restaurants. As a consequence, I have learnt to improvise. My two favourite substitutes are slices of beef filet or Gemsbok (Oryx) rump. The latter works particularly well, as it is naturally pale and tender, and has rather better flavour than beef filet. Here is how I like to serve it: 

Prepation time: 45 minutes.

Cooking time: 20 minutes.

Serves 4 adults.

Tastes best accompanied by a medium-bodied red wine like Sangiovese, Tempranillo or Cinsaut.

 8 Veal escalopes, or alternatively thin slices of suitably tender meat.

8 Slices of prosciutto or coppa.

8 Globe artichokes.

8 Sage leaves.

8 Basil leaves.

4 Tablespoons olive oil.

2 Tablespoons butter.

1 Cup dry Marsala or sherry.

½ Cup of white bread flower.

Salt and ground black pepper for seasoning.

  •  Trim the artichokes, removing all leaves and the chokes so you are left with the hearts and a short length of the stems. Cut them in quarters lengthwise. Place in a bowl of salted water.
  • Place the veal between two sheets of wax wrap. Gently tap with a mallet to tenderise them and achieve identical thickness.
  • Place them on a platter on which a thin layer of flour has already been strewn.
  • Season each slice with salt and pepper, and place a sage leaf and a basil leaf on top.
  • Place a slice of the prosciutto or coppa on top, sandwiching the herbs.
  • Sprinkle a little flour on top of each morsel, and press down firmly.
  • Heat half the oil and butter in a large, heavy-bottomed frying pan.
  • Fry the meat parcels until browned on both sides, taking care to keep them intact when turning them. It is important not to overcook the veal.
  • Place the cooked morsels on a warm serving platter.
  • Pour off the oil from the pan, and deglaze over low heat with the wine. Scrape all bits of meat and flour from the bottom.
  • When the juices have reduced by half, add the remaining butter and season to taste. Keep the sauce warm.
  • In a clean frying pan, heat the rest of the olive oil.
  • Dry the artichoke quarters and fry – turning occasionally - until golden brown on all sides.
  • Drain on kitchen paper.
  • Serve the veal with the artichokes on the side, and spoon the gravy from the pan over the veal.

 “Life is like eating artichokes; you have to go through so much to get so little.” – Tad Dorgan.

Eishkom strikes again...

Home on the range

Picnic in La France Profonde near Vezelay

Barry, nou gaan ons braai!

Brawn is good for your brains...

Brawn: the ugly duckling of Charcuterie

For thirty years my mother served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found. - Calvin Trillin.

Much maligned among many of my countrymen, this dish is tasty, lasts long and is easy to make. In countries like France and Germany, pork offal is accorded huge respect – and rightly so. The brawn can contain any/all of the following: trotters, head meat, ears and shanks. It makes great sandwich meat, and can also be eaten on its own with mustard, pickles and vegetable crudités. Another way of utilising it (when there is electricity) is to heat it and serve it on rice. Do try this one out...   

Preparation time: ½ hour.

Cooking time: 4 hours.

Serves 4+ adults.

Tastes best accompanied by a medium-bodied red, like Cinsaut, Pinotage or Malbec.

1 kg Pork offal: trotters, head meat, ears and shanks. Leftover pieces of bacon, ham and bangers can also be included.

500 ml Chicken stock.

1l Cold water.

4 Bay leaves.

Salt and black pepper.

40 ml Red wine vinegar.

20 ml Worcestershire sauce.

20 ml Roasted, ground coriander seeds.

20 ml Ground Allspice.

10 ml Ground Nutmeg.

5 Cloves.

2 Tbsp Chopped Italian parsley.

1 Tsp fresh thyme.

10 ml Gelatine powder.

  • Place the meat in a large cast-iron pot. Cover with the water.
  • Place on the stove hob and slowly bring to the boil. Simmer for 3 hours.
  • Remove the pork from the pot and allow to cool. Pluck the meat from the bones and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  • While the meat is cooling, return the pot with broth and bones to the heat and add all the remaining ingredients, except the parsley and gelatine. This second session helps to extract the gelatine from the bones and cartilage.  
  • After 20 minutes, strain the broth, discard the solids and add the meat.
  • Bring back to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat and stir in the gelatine and parsley.
  • When the mixture drops below boiling point, remove from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  • Scoop into containers with a tablespoon.
  • Allow to cool and solidify before refrigerating.
  • The brawn should last at least two weeks in a refrigerator, and three months in a freezer.

Mummy, must I really eat this pie? It seems to be made from a particularly nasty part of the shepherd. - Punch.

Surviving in style off the grid

“To barbecue is more a way of life than a desirable method of cooking.” – Clement Freud.

 Making it at home: Mild-cured lamb rib

 Mutton and lamb are important in Afrikaner cuisine, probably because so many of our ancestors were sheep farmers in arid parts of the country. Slowly barbecuing a lamb rib is a quintessential Boere treat. My mother taught me how to prepare a traditional soutribbetjie in the early 1970s. To this day it remains a firm favourite in our family. Depending on the capacity of your guests, allow about 250 – 350g per person.

 Prepation time: 6 hours.

Cooking time: 1 ½  hours.

Serves 6 persons.

Tastes best accompanied by a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah.

 2 Small lamb flanks; about 1 kg each.

1 Tablespoon olive oil.

1 Tbsp dark soy sauce (or Worcestershire sauce).

2 Tablespoons coarse sea salt.

1 Tablespoon each of freshly ground coriander and black pepper.

1 Tablespoon each of chopped rosemary and sage.

  •  Baste the ribs all over with a mixture of the olive oil and soy sauce. Sprinkle generously with a mixture of salt, herbs and spices.
  • Allow to rest in a cool place for at least 2 hours.
  • Rinse with cold water and allow to drip dry in a cool, airy place for 4 hours.
  • Start a charcoal fire about 40 minutes before you intend cooking the meat.
  • When the coals are ready, spread them evenly across the bottom of the barbecue. Allow to settle down.
  • Set the braai grid about 30 cm above the coals, and allow to heat up.
  • Cook the ribs on the bony side for about 2/3 of the time. 1 ½ Hours should suffice.
  • When done, allow to rest for about 10 minutes before carving.
  • Serve with a starch (we like pap en sous, Dauphinoise potatoes or garlic bread) and a tangy side dish like beetroot or curry bean salad.

“The lion and the lamb may one day lie down together, but the lamb won’t get much sleep.” – Woody Allen.

Jambon Persillé (Burgundian Parsley Ham)

"Ham: forty days in salt, forty days hanging, in forty days eaten." - Joseph Delteil.

Here is another Eishkom-proof delicacy for the Festive Season - it can - and should - be made in advance. This dish is traditionally made and eaten in Burgundy over Easter, and is known in some quarters as “Easter Ham”. With our hot summers, I prefer it to the traditional hot gammon as part of Christmas Lunch. Here is how I make it: 

Prepation time: 20 minutes.

Cooking time: 3hours.

Serves 8 adults.

Tastes best accompanied by a medium- to full-bodied Pinot Noir or Malbec.

For the ham:

  • 1 Uncooked ham of about 1.5kg (incl. bone).
  • 1 Smoked Eisbein of about 500g (incl. bone).
  • 2l Water.
  • 500ml Dry white wine.
  • 3 Medium onions, chopped roughly.
  • 3 Medium carrots, chopped roughly.
  • 1 Celery stalk, chopped roughly.
  • 1 Sprig of Rosemary.
  • 2 Sage leaves.
  • 12 Black peppercorns, bruised.
  • 4 Bay leaves.
  • 2 Cubes of veal or chicken stock.
  • 1 Tsp of Curry powder.
  • 1 Tbsp flambéd brandy.
  • 150ml Red port.
  • 4 Tsp Gelatine powder.

 Parsley mixture:

  •  3 Finely chopped shallots.
  • 3 Medium cloves of garlic, finely chopped.
  • 3 Tbsp chopped parsley.
  • 3 Tbsp chopped French tarragon.
  • 2 Tbsp chopped French chives.
  • 3 Tbsp butter.
  •  Salt, black pepper and paprika for seasoning.

 

  • Cut the ham in to matchbox-sized cubes, keeping the bone and rind.
  • Do the same with the Eisbein.
  • Pour the water and wine into a large pot, and add all the herbs and spices for the ham – but not the gelatine.
  • Bring to the boil and cook over medium heat for 25 minutes.
  • Add the meat and bones.
  • Simmer for 2 hours.
  • Seperate the stock from the solids by pouring it through a colander.
  • Discard the bones, vegetables and herbs.
  • Allow the meat to cool, then pluck into smaller pieces.
  • Strain and clarify the stock.
  • Return the stock to low heat and add the brandy and port.
  • When the stock is hot (but, NB: it should never simmer of boil) stir in the gelatine.
  • Allow to cool.
  • Meanwhile sweat the shallots and garlic in the butter, then stir in the herbs.
  • Allow to cool.
  • Test the consistency of the jelly by putting 2-3 tsp of the stock in the refrigerator in a saucer. If it does not set within 10 minutes, add another tsp of gelatine to the stock.
  • Assemble the terrine by placing alternate layers of ham and parsley mixture in the terrine dish.
  • Each time a layer of ham is added, press it down firmly and season with salt, pepper and paprika.
  • The top layer should be ham. Press down well, and pour over the stock/jelly, which should be no more than tepid.
  • Place in front of an open window to cool it down.
  • Allow the liquid to permeate the terrine, and top up so as to ensure that all the solids remain covered.
  • When the terrine reaches room temperature and is completely topped up, place in the refrigerator and let it rest for 2 days.
  • To remove the contents from the mould easily, soak the bottom of the mould in hot water for a minute or two.

 Serve slices of the ham as a starter, with crusty bread and mustard, or on their own as a cold side dish.

“A paté is nothing more than a French meat loaf that’s had a couple of cocktails.” – Carol Cutler.

Boerekos with Eastern origins

“Sosaties, when properly made, should be tender and juicy, yet with a crispness that rivals a grilled chop; bitingly spicy yet with a suavity that rivals the best curry.” – C. Louis Leipoldt.

With Eishkom ushering in the New Year with rolling blackouts, an old South African adage will once again make its presence felt: When the going gets tough, the tough go braaiing! A regular feature of braais at Chez Louis is an old South African icon, the sosatie - a dish derived from the spicy kebabs of South-East Asia and brought to the Cape by Malay slave cooks. The concept of cooking meat on a skewer is probably as old and ubiquitous as sausages, and many nations claim it as their own. My people are no different. Despite its exotic origins, Afrikaners have regarded the sosatie as an authentic, integral part of their cuisine for many years. Here is how I make it:

Prepation time: 25 hours.

Cooking time: 20 minutes.

Serves 6 adults.

Tastes best accompanied by a fruity red wine like a Merlot, Malbec or Tinta Barocca.

Kebabs:

500 g Beef rump, cut into cubes of around 5 cm3.

500 g Lamb loin or leg, cut into similar-sized cubes.

200 g Pork lard, cut into 5 cm2 squares.

3 Large onions, cut into 5 cm2 squares.

24 Dried apricots.

12 Kebab skewers, soaked in water beforehand.

Marinade:

3 Large onions, finely sliced.

3 Cups of white wine vinegar.

1 Cup of water.

1 Cup of brown sugar.

1 Cup of dried Sultanas.

3 Tablespoons of curry powder.

2 Tablespoons of flour.

1 Tablespoon of turmeric.

1 Tablespoon of cracked black peppercorns.

1 Tablespoon of vegetable oil.

½ Tablespoon of ground coriander seeds.

½ Tablespoon of salt.

½ Tablespoon of ground ginger.

6 Bay leaves.

The seeds of 4 cardamom pods.

  • Simmer the onions in a mixture of all the marinade ingredients (except the flour and oil) for 15 minutes.
  • When nearly done, thicken the sauce with a paste made of the flour and a few spoonfuls of the hot sauce.
  • Meanwhile thread the meat onto the skewers. Alternate onion, beef, lard, lamb and apricot. There should be enough meat for 5-6 cubes per skewer.
  • Allow the marinade to cool to room temperature, and stir in the vegetable oil.
  • Place the skewers in a suitably-sized airtight container, and pour the marinade over them.
  • Leave in a cool place for 24 hours.
  • Start a charcoal fire about 40 minutes before you intend cooking the sosaties.
  • When the coals are ready, spread them evenly across the bottom of the barbecue. Allow to settle down.
  • Set the braai grid about 30 cm above the coals, and allow to heat up.
  • Cook the sosaties for about 20 minutes, turning them frequently.
  • Serve with a starch (pap en sous, baked potatoes or garlic bread) and a tangy side dish like coleslaw.

“The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the meat on the barbecue to cook.” – Julia Child.

 

Eishkom-proof comfort food

“Society is like a stew. If you don’t stir it up every so often, a layer of scum floats to the top.” – Edward Abbey.

Oxtail stew is one of South Africa’s universal favourites. Whereas many well-known dishes are “ethnic” (i.e. peculiar to one culture, but occasionally eaten by others) this wonderful comfort food transcends racial and cultural boundaries. It is eaten with equal gusto by WASPs in Constantia, Coloured folk in Caledon, “Boeremense” in Bethlehem and Zulus in Nongoma. In fact, it is well known that Madiba’s favourite dish was the self-same uMsila weNkomo.

Although – like with most classic dishes – there are many views on what constitutes the Real McCoy, the basic construct is straight forward: slow-cooked portions of bovine tail (not necessarily from an ox) in a rich gravy and a variety of vegetables stewed with it. Served on the starch of your choice – Jakki prefers mash; I love samp – it is a wholesome, satisfying meal in one pot. Thanks to our ailing national power supplier (“utility” and “Eskom” somehow no longer belong in the same phrase) Oxtail is now even more popular than ever. It can be made just as well on gas or as a “Potjie” on the Braai.   

On Sunday Jakki and I were privileged to be treated to a wonderful lunch (and great hospitality in general) by our friends Pieter and Sanette Wessels of Glenadrienne. The undoubted star of the show was Sanette’s show-stopping Oxtail on Mash. It took me a few seconds to realise what made it stand out above any of my previous efforts: while the ingredients were almost identical, Sanette had added a touch of very mild curry to it. More spicy than hot, it gave the dish that salta im bocca effect all good cooks strive for. Thank you, Sanette – you have not just helped me to improve on my Oxtail, but inspired me to avoid getting stuck in a rut with my favourite dishes. Never stop exploring and experimenting...

Here is my interpretation of this wonderful dish:

 

Preparation time: 15 minutes.

Cooking time: 3 ½ hours.

Serves 6 adults.

Tastes best accompanied by a full-bodied red wine like Cabernet Sauvignon or Syrah.

 

1 kg Oxtail – sawn through the joints.

3 Medium onions, chopped.

500ml Beef of oxtail stock.

3 Medium carrots, cut into 2cm thick roundels.

2 Medium potatoes, chopped into 2cm³ cubes.

150g Young green beans, cut into quarters.

1 Celery stalk, chopped.

50g Butter.

1 Tablespoon flour.

4 Cloves.

3 Bay leaves.

1 Tbsp mild (Malay) curry powder.

1 tsp Chopped garlic.

bouquet garni, consisting of thyme, sage, parsley and marjoram.

Salt and freshly ground black pepper for seasoning.

  • Place the meat in a heavy-bottomed pot, and braise in the butter along with the onions until browned.
  • Sprinkle with the flour, stir briskly, and add the stock gradually while stirring continually.
  • Add the carrots, potatoes, celery, beans, bay leaves, bouquet garni, cloves,and pinches of salt and pepper, cover the casserole and leave to simmer for 2 ½ hours on low heat.
  • Stir occasionally, and scoop of any scum that floats to the top.
  • If the liquid starts running low, add boiling water to keep the stew moist.
  • After the 2 ½ hours, add the garlic, ginger and curry powder and simmer for another hour.
  • Turn off the heat, remove the bouquet garni, and scoop off as much of the floating scum as possible.
  • Check the gravy in the pot. If it is too watery, mix a bit of flour with a few spoonfuls of the hot gravy until a smooth paste forms. Use this to thicken the gravy.
  • Check seasoning, and (if necessary) add salt and/or pepper.
  • Serve on mashed potato (my personal preference) or samp.

“We mostly eat meat. When we feel like vegetables, we slaughter a chicken.” – Namibian farmer of the author’s acquaintance. 

Fyndraai/Old Smokey

Jerry, it was an instructional video on sausage making

A burger is the cornerstone of a balanced diet

Beefcake hamming it up in La Mancha

Babette preparing a feast