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Friday, 23 March 2012

Casserole of Francolin,Partridge, Guineafowl or Doves


This recipe is a delicious tender casserole made of any game bird. All game birds are basically similar in their properties. The meat is generally fat free and can be rather tough. Therefore it is safe to follow the same basic cooking times for all. For older birds, increase the time and keep testing the meat.

Francolin are fairly easy to hunt with an air rifle and can be found best in the evenings. Four pm onwards is best.Walk slowly and stop repeatedly through an area where they occur. When they see you they will often run, but will stop. Crested Francolin often fly into a thick bush and hide amongst the branches where they can be dispatched easily. The beauty of air rifle hunting is there is absolutely no stress the the birds or game because there are no crashing shotguns to traumatize every creature for miles around.

You will need:

for 4 people:  2 francolins. OR a guineafowl OR 8 doves OR similar weight in other game birds.
You can leave the birds whole, but I generally chop them into 4 pieces. Two leg and thighs with part of the back and two breasts with a wing each. Then each guest can have a breast and a leg and thigh. Each portion has itsown unique flavors and texture. Heres how a chicken is quartered so you get the idea..
then get together the following:
3 sprigs fresh rosemary chopped roughly.
bunch of fresh basil chopped fine.
pinch of thyme. fresh is best always.
2 bay leaves. Makesure they are fresh. If they have no smell and have been in the cupboard for years then sling them. Keep dried bay leaves in the freezer for freshness.
dash of balsamic vinegar and quarter cup of good wine vinegar mixed.
black pepper.
small glass of red red wine.
7 or 8 segments of garlic sliced and inserted into cuts in the pieces. Fiddly but worth it!
Cup of cream
Piece of butter for browning the meat.
flour.
Large Chopped carrot
Large Onion chopped
One large leek and half the green choppedor 3 or 4 small ones.
Large Parsnip chopped.
half punnet of button mushrooms sliced.
2 cups of chicken stock. (Always try and keep the real thing in the freezer made by boiling leftover bones,skin, etc) Use cubes if you must but make sure it contains no msg. It is POISON!

Method:
Insert the garlic pieces and wet them in the vinegar and red wine.
Roll in flour and let set for 30 minutes. (reserve the vinegar/wine mix)
brown the pieces well in the butter.
Brown the onion and mushrooms well.

Lay the pieces in a casserole dish and place all other ingredients around. Put the chopped herbs on top of the pieces. Carefully pour the wine around and add the chicken stock.

Put the lid on and put it in a medium high oven for 3 hrs or more according to taste. (Some birds are tougher than others) Do not disturb the meat. You want to be able to carefully serve whole pieces when you plate your meals.
 Serve on Rice or a bed of couscous or mashed potato.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

English Breakfast:: Fried Potatoes


Fried potatoes is nearly always a side dish with our game lodge. Here is a absolutely fabulous version.
To make a small portion as a side for 4 people.
You will need:
 2 large potatoes peeled and cut into discs quarter inch (about 7mm) thick then halved into "C" shapes.
1 small onion halved and also sliced. 3 or 4 spring onions with half the green tops is way better if you can lay your hands on some.
2 teaspoon brown sugar.
Method;
Par- boil the potatoes in boiling water for 10 minutes.
Brown the onion in a little olive oil and remove.
Brown the potatoes being careful not to break them up to much.

Add the onions and sprinkle the two teaspoons over the potatoe and onions. Add a good shake of black pepper. Keep shaking the pan and watch it like a hawk so that the brown sugar doesnt burn. A few browny almost burnt bits is nice though.
Remove it and keep it warm, uncovered (so it doesnt go mushy) until the rest of your Breakfast is ready to serve.

This is so popular in my family that I often make larger amounts and serve it as part of a main course.

Friday, 16 March 2012

English Breakfast:: Perfect Garlic Pork Sausages


Why do I say perfect? Well because cooking a pork sausage is not that easy. They can burst, brown too much on the outside and be raw inside and they can also taste bad.
I have eaten a lot of commercially packed pork sausages and they vary enormously. In our part of the world there are very few decent sausages. The Eskourt brand is ok. Not great, but better than many others. Not badly spiced, and appears to have a reasonable amount of real pork in them. The best choice is to check out a few butchers own packed sausages.
Even there we have a problem. I would say 90% of butchers produce a pork sausage by mixing their pork mince with a commercial, pre-packed "Pork sausage Mix" Which means that all these butchers produce very similar sausages, and regretfully, they all contain MSG a vile over used flavour enhancer which is so not good for you, and is a little known,major cause of migraines in migraine sufferers.
So whilst you may be happy with your butcher, shop around for sausages. Ask 2 questions. Does he mix his own pork sausage spices and herbs. Does it contain MSG.

So now you got your good quality sausages what do you do?
chop a single large segment of garlic finely.
With breakfast you need to be careful with garlic. Just a hint.
A little splash of sunflower oil in the pan. Lay the sausage in and sprinkle the garlic on top. A twist of the black pepper grinder. Bring up to a low heat slowly. They should barely sizzle. They must be covered the whole time. After 15 minutes turn the sausages to brown the other sie. Cover again for 15 minutes. Its all about slow steaming and slow browning. The result? Perfect lightly browned sausages cooked to perfection.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Cooking Ox Tongue


You have probably looked apprehensively at that pinky, black mottled monstrosity in the cold counter in your local butcher. Here in Botswana is is displayed, not very appetizingly alongside more expensive cuts of meat, and so one is rather forced to gaze upon it.
However, like so many other "peculiar looking" food like prawns, crayfish, eel, the appearance belies the taste. Ox tongue is absolutely delicious and an old traditional English cold cut. In out region it is either cooke to be used cold in sandwiches or as part of a stew or relish to be eaten as a main meal with a starch accompaniment.

The intial cooking for both methods is similar. It is best to cook it whole even for stews because it is easier to remove the membrane covering on the meat.

Very simply, rinse the whole raw tongue well. Trim off any little tubes, fatty and dangly bits that you see and put the whole piece into a pressure cooker. A good teaspoon of salt and start cooking. You can cook this on the stove top, but it takes 5hrs or more to get a tender result.
I add 10 whole black pepper corns and 2 whole cloves. Add a large chopped carrot and garlic if you wish. Cover the tongue with water and then cook for 2 and a half hours in the pressure cooker so it is just hissing. That is medium pressure. Let the cooker depressurize and remove the tongue. Whilst it is fairly hot, use a knife or fork to pull off the outer covering on the tongue. It is thick on top, (the licking side!) and more fragile on the underside.
Here you can see the membrane peeling: Just pull it off in bits.

 Clean off anymore bits of yucky stuff and then press the tongue into as small a container as you can. Find something heavy to put on top. (A couple of washed bricks wrapped in clingfilm is great) Let it cool then refrigerate. It is now ready for slicing. You can slice it all and freeze portions or eat it up within a week.

To eat it hot in a stew. I simply cut the tongue into steaks, then strips and return them to the pot. Fish out the cloves. Add another onion and garlic and chilli to taste. Add peeled potatatoes if you intend to serve this stew with potatoes. You may need to add a bit of water. Pressure cook again for 40 minutes. Open the pot and reduce the liquor by simmering gently. 
This is the very basic way of serving oxtail in a traditional African way. Sometimes is is just boiled and the resulting gravy is all there is to eat with it. It is often eaten as relish with mealie pap or sorghum pap in our region.
Close up of texture or the relish.

English Breakfast:: Sherried Mushrooms and Bacon


This is a continuation of my English Breakfast theme. Remember, this is not "English" Breakfast, but rather one of the components dished up for the traditional English style breakfast in Southern Africa. I have worked at 5 Star Game Lodges for the last 12 years and have been able to experience some of the amazing variation cooked up by our local chefs.

This one, mushrooms and Bacon is very simple, but absolutely delicious. Why dont we mix mushroom, bacon and onion more?
Here are a few good brands among the millions..

You will need:
250g packet of smoked bacon.  There are some great brands like the above but we get a marvelous product in Botswana from Senn foods.
200g packet of white shitake, white button mushrooms or closed brown.
5 spring onions chopped into rounds with half of the green stem included.
good shake of black pepper.
Dash of sherry.

Start of by slicing the bacon rasher across into pieces about 1 cm wide.

Then slice the mushrooms..
Start by frying the bacon, moving it around to break it apart. Do not crisp it. Remove from the pan and fry the onions and mushrooms together. Add the black pepper.
Combine all the ingredients and let some of them brown well before sprinkling on sherry. Let any liquid evaporate and serve or keep warm.
This is a fantastic side dish to the full English breakfast-African Style!

Sunday, 11 March 2012

African bird Stew (relish to accompany papa/sadza or polenta)


See the hunting fishing and gathering page on the tabs lower down on the right hand side of this blog. You will see how to prepare your birds for cooking. However I know that in many countries pigeons, doves and other small birds are available commercially so why not give this a try. If you are African, living out of Africa, then take a trip back to your early roots, when your grandparent regularly ate food like this. Its good healthy and tasty!
For a good pot of bird stew relish you will need 4 to 6 doves depending on their variety or size. If you are fortunate to get red eye doves, green pigeons or rock doves, then 3 may be enough. If you have an enterprising lad who has collected you a number of assorted small birds then aim for about 750 grams of meat.

A large onion or two small
three quarter cup Sunflower oil. (yes I know its a lot, but it is the basis of the relish and carries the flavor.)
2 tomatoes or half a cup of chopped dried tomatoes. (by far the nicer choice if you have got) I have come across a few indigenous Africans over the years who have opened tomatoes and dried them on the roof of their huts. So using dried tomatoes would be authentic.
Chillis to taste. I use 2 for this amount of meat.
Its now very simple. Cut the birds into quarters. Then brown the birds 1 onion and garlic together slightly and then add the other ingredients. Cover with water and simmer for a long time. Many African women have the pot simmering on the side of the fire for half a day. On the stove top I cook for 4 or 5 hours. Wild birds can be very tough and you need to break down all the sinews thoroughly. In the last three quarter hour add the second onion roughly chopped. Pumpkin if available or cabbage is sometimes added now also.
Then take off the pot lid and reduce the liquid to very little water and mostly oil. That is your bird relish. It is normally fairly salty and eaten by dipping sausage shaped balls of papa/polenta with the fingers of the right hand into the juice and eating. A little piece of bird or vegetable is occasionally picked up with one of the fingers alongside the pap ball and eaten with the papa.
Invite some people over, take away all the cutlery and serve it on two dishes in the middle of the table. They will love it! It makes for a very social meal. I have done something similar for many overseas visitors and they absolutely love this brush with African style food. By the way, water in a bowl is brought before the meal for guests to wash hands, and also afterwards. A towel is supplied.

 Warning for Westerners who eat "traditional style" with Africans. DO wash your hands before eating. Do not use your left hand for eating. It may be used to hold a piece of meat or bone and transferred to the right hand to eat. If you re-dip your ball of polenta/papa into the gravy, turn it around so you dip the un-bitten end. This is a general guide which applies to most African tribes in the region, but I would love some of my African followers to add or correct me if you think of something. Wait for the senior man present to finish the last piece of meat, but DO NOT follow the western habit of leaving a piece. It insults the cook.  (Westerners like leaving the last biscuit or piece of cake. This is the most daft senseless European custom I have ever encountered!! I have had quite heated arguments with some guests who refuse to eat the last piece of food on a plate or dish!)

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Guinea Fowl with Red Wine and garlic Sauce


Having shot your guinea fowl............or bought it from Woolworth s or wherever, you may wonder how to make  a successful meal out of it.
Oh, and by the way, having eaten many wild guinea fowl, there is no doubt that the farm raised guinea fowl are far more succulent than wild. Theyalso still have that unique "Guinea Fowly" flavour, but less marked. The meat is a bit lighter and generally the bird is fatter.

Wild guinea fowl have a much stronger gamey taste and can be sinewy and tough unless they are shot in their first year. An older bird is nice, but forget about doing much with it other than creating some sort of stew. That can be very nice too though.

For our dish we are going to joint the bird and simmer it in Red wine garlic and a few other things...
Ingredients for 4 people are:

A large bird or two small.
2 Red onions quartered.
Cup of red wine.
Quarter cup of Apricot or peach jam. (This by the way offsets the slightly bitter flavour found in a lot of African game and wild birds. I don't know about venison elsewhere.)
5 segments of garlic crushed in their shells.
4 whole star anise pods
2 clove pieces, or a good pinch of ground cloves.
Half a cup of dried tomato, roughly chopped.
Teaspoon Coarse ground black pepper.
1 or two fresh green chillies or to taste.
Zest and Juice of one lemon.
Flour.
2 medium carrots quartered lengthwise.

With a cleaver or heavy knife, cut the bird into 4 pieces. Two leg and thigh with a bit of back, and two breast halves and wing.

Thoroughly shake up the pieces in a mixture of the lemon juice, wine, lemon zest, garlic and chillies. Let it sit for an hour or so, and re-mix it from time to time.

Now roll the pieces in flour and shake off. This is my pet method of retaining flavour.  Put a good slosh of olive oil into a heavy bottom pan and brown the pieces slightly, turning them as few times as possible.

Put the browned pieces into a large pot along with the other ingredients and the remains of the lemon juice and wine and add a cup of water. Arrange the carrots and red onion quarters around the pieces. Put a lid on and simmer for an hour. The long cooking time is necessary to get the meat tender enough to come off the bone. DO NOT stir or interfere during the cooking. We want to end up with 4 pieces in a thickened sauce. You may need to add water or simmer a little longer to accomplish this.
This is fantastic served on basmati rice or with mashed potatoes.

Gathering and cooking wild food

Much more later and some recipes for wild dove relish, guineafowl in red wine and francolin. In the meantime I have updated the "Hunting Fishing Gathering" for the pot page. Click on the tab on the right hand side of this blog and tell me I am not soppy!

Friday, 9 March 2012

South African Sticky Pork Rashers


This is how they are done in my region. They are often braaied (barbequed) but I am going to outline the oven method, because so many of the readers of this blog live in interesting places but no place to barbeque.
Here in South Africa, the piece of belly pork or skirt below the ribs is often cut into rashers about a cm thick. Any butcher will be able to do this for you. Here we buy them pre-cut from all good supermarkets such as Spar and Pick n' Pay.
A kilo of rashers is enough for 5 fussy eaters (those that strip off the fatty bits and the rinds!!) Rather cook more. They keep well and if you have a family of teenagers they will be gone from the fridge by the next day.
Assemble as many of the following ingredients as possible:
thumb size piece ginger grated.
4 segments garlic, grated or chopped finely
heaped tablespoon chopped thyme or teaspoon of dried.
Same of basil
half cup sweet red wine.
Grated zest and squeeze one lemon.
2 tablespoons honey or brown sugar. Honey is nicest.
2 chopped chilli (can be omitted for those who dont like)
Breadcrumbs (optional but you will see why further down)
Method:
mix all the ingredients and marinade the rashers in this mixture. Overnight is best but 2 or 3 hours is also ok.

Sprinkle a layer of breadcrumbs in a large oven baking pan.
Lay the rashers on this and try to fit as many in as you can. Otherwise use a second pan.
Sprinkle a thin layer of breadcrumbs over the rashers.
Now pour whats left of the marinade over the rashers, making sure you wet all the breadcrumbs. If you think you will be short of marinade add a little more wine.
What happens is the breadcrumbs trap the flavors and sauce next to the meat. You will never have dry rashers inside like this.
Now put in a medium to low oven for up to an hour. Baste the rashers every so often. The sauce should reduce until you are left with a sticky residue. Roll the meat in that and serve.

Namibian/German Apple Strudel

I apologize at the outset to German chefs. This is NOT the way it is traditionally cooked. Your traditional way is superb. The way I have outlined is how it has been adapted by South Africans who have visited Namibia and experienced some of the amazing confectionery found in the old German towns such as Swakopmund, Walvis Bay and Windhoek. 
Lets start off by putting two rolls of ready made, frozen puff pastry in the fridge to defrost overnight. Of course if you have the skills then make it yourself. I do when I have time, but it can be a rather laborious process if you are going to do it well.

Now start with the apples. 10 medium any variety. I often use the one and half kg econo pack apples found everywhere in Southern Africa which originate in the Cape. Home of the best apples in the world!

peel them, then slice off chunks until you reach the core. Discard this part or add it and the peels to the cider barrel.
Now for the bit which makes this special....
collect together:

I cup of white sugar.
half cup of seedless black raisins
half a cup of pecan nuts roughly chopped. (This ingredient is not essential but is incredibly good)
4 or 5 cloves or a level teaspoon of ground cloves.
half cup of brandy to flambe the apple when it is cooked. (Also can be omitted)
Method:
Fry the apple in batches pure butter ensuring the apple browns slightly. At the same time add the sugar, pecan nuts and raisins and cloves in batches. They need to soften slightly.

Put all the cooked ingredients into one large pan on high heat and pour the brandy in and light it. (Mind your eyebrows ha ha!) Tilt the pan to keep it burning  until the fire eventually goes out.

A big secret is the apples must not be mushy at this stage of cooking. So when you brown them in butter do it briefly on high heat and remove them as soon as possible and put them onto a cold plate to stop the cooking. If you end up with too much runny sauce, drain it from the apples and VERY VERY carefully reduce it either in a pan watching it like a hawk or in a large tray in the oven on low. Return the thickened sauce to the apples.

Now unroll a sheet of pastry and lay it in a baking tray or circular pie dish. DO NOT try and roll it bigger to fit. Rather cut off excess and gently lat them down to fill spaces. If you touch the pastry too much it will not puff up as much. Now bake that bottom sheet until light brown. Medium oven in the middle. No blind filler in the pastry. Just as it is. Don't worry that it puffs right up.
Now gently spoon the apple mixture evenly over the pastry. Lay another roll of pastry over it . Again trim and fill spaces if using a round dish. I prefer a baking tray as in the illustration above.
Bake on medium in the middle of the oven again until nicely browned.
Try and serve as soon after baking as possible, although it does keep very well for a couple of hours.
Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.


Thursday, 8 March 2012

Mozambique Styled Peri Peri Chicken

This has to be one of my signature dishes. It is an all time favorite in our family and happily my daughter shares my love for hot spicy food.

Chips has got to be the best accompaniment to peri peri chicken.
Ingredients: for one chicken.
Again as in much of our region, ingredients vary. Peri peri chicken pork or prawns is different in the south of Mozambique to the northern regions.
However there is always;
1)  fresh chillis for medium hot about 4 teaspoons heaped of chopped chillis. Use a mix of green, red, yellow if you can. Green have the best capsicum flavour without too much burn. De-seed the chillis if you want to reduce the burn by half. I like Jalapeno because they are nice and fleshy. As a general rule regarding varieties, the smaller the chilli the hotter. Therefore I find birdseye chillis far too hot without much pepper flavour. The nicest chillis to use are those patti pan shaped and sized ones.
2) 6 large segments of garlic chopped fine.
3) 2 tablespoons fresh grated ginger.

the other ingredients which vary, but I use, is grated zest of a lemon.
2 teaspoons of paprika
a half cup of fresh basil chopped fine.
quarter cup very dry white wine or use wine vinegar.
half cup olive oil
Method:

chop the spices fine and mix them. Add the olive oil and wine..
Chop the chicken into 4 pieces, ie. leg and thighs and breasts. Cut 3 or 4 deep diagonal slices in each piece.

photo the garden chef
Put the chicken into a bag with the marinade and gently roll it until the chicken is well coated. I then take the chicken out and stuff the slices in the pieces with the spice mixture.

Now slow grill for 40 to 45 minute. Keep basting it so it doesn't dry out.
This is great served with chips or rice and a basil and tomato salad.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Classic, basic african style meat relish and pap

I said in an earlier post that the cupboard was bare! And that is what a lot of african cooking is all about. Simple cheap food.


To translate the title above: meat relish is meat cooked normally with onions, oil if available and garlic and green peppers and chillis IF available.
Pap is maize meal porridge cooked in a unique African way to a stiff texture that can be formed into balls with the fingers. In the region it is called "Papa" "Sadza" "Putu"and "Nshima" to mention just a few. It looks easy to make, but it is NOT easy to get it right. In Zimbabwe, African men cook it differently to women. Both are good, but the womens method is far nicer in my opinion, so that is what I am going to explain. It is the way I was taught to cook pap by an ancient camp cook many years ago when I was a game ranger. (Yawn grandad!)

Anyway...
Usehalf a kilo of meat. This can be shin, blade, chicken (cook half the time) or short rib or any cheap cut of meat. The delicacy in Africa is fatty meat. (I Know, I know it unhealthy, but you should see how very healthy africans are.)
brown the meat. Add a large chopped onion, even two if you have. Tomatoes and green peppers and chopped garlic can be added if it available. Thats the thing....there IS no fixed recipe. Its the method that is important. And the onions. Chillis are always added if available. One chopped chilli for the half kilo of meat is about right. Potatoes can also be added. Cover with water.
After browning, cover with water. Simmer and reduce to gravy for an hour and a half. Meanwhile get half a 2 liter pot of water boiling.

Put 2 cups of maize meal in a bowl and add enough cold water to wet it all to a sort of crumbly mix. Too much water is no problem. If you dont do this pre-cold water thing, you will get bad lumps of uncooked porridge when you toss dry meal into boiling water. It cant be done!
Add a little of the cold mix to the boiling water and stir for a few minutes until you get a thick porridge that blips slowly. Turn the heat right down and put a lid on it. Stir every 5 minutes for 20 minutes. Then add about a cup of the mixture and vigourously stir it into the porridge. Only experience will tell when its right. Put the lid on again for another 20 minutes. When you take the lid off, if you got it right, it should have puffed up to the lid with steam. Collapse it with a spoon and add another couple of tablespoons of meal mix. Lid on for another 10 minutes. If it seems soft when you serve it, dont panic, it will set a bit as it cools to a perfect consistency. Keep on trying until you get it right. It takes Shona women in Zimbabwe many years to get it right, and she is highly regarded in the community when she does!!
photo by Libby

This meal gets served onto a soup plate and presented as you see in the photo above by Lukas.

garlic and thyme fried chicken

At the outset..this is NOT strictly African style, although the flavours are. This I cooked when the cupboard was bare this last weekend, and I tried really hard to make something nice out of very little.

Ingredients:
One chicken jointed.
3 large segments of garlic finely chopped.
teaspoon of chopped thyme. Fresh is best but I only had dried.
2 heap teaspoon paprika.
teaspoon black pepper.
2 eggs beaten.
Flour to coat or plain breadcrumbs.(I normally use plain breadcrumbs)

Method toss the chicken well in the egg mixture along with all the spices. This way the spices get to stick on the chicken pieces.  Then I put all the pieces into a bag of flour and gently roll it around to thouroughly coat them. Let the flour set for 30 minutes then begin frying the pieces a few at a time in medium hot oil until both sides are browned. They will NOT be properly cooked yet. I do this by putting the pieces into a medium oven for another 30 minutes. I also fried some butternut slices and also finished them in the oven at the same time. If it ends up looking like this (photo by Chris Chee) below you have probably got it right!