March 10, 2010 in Uncategorized
This is an African Queen of a pie and in fact, if the humble pie can be raised up to royal heights, this is the one. I have been hunting around looking for a fabulous recipe to use the kudu fillet that I bought at the Food Market two weeks ago – and I found a gem of a jewel of a recipe in the appropriately named book “A Kitchen Safari” by Yvonne Short – Stories and Recipes From The African Wilderness. I absolutely loved every moment in the kitchen making it ………….
We are so very blessed to live in a country that has a landscape that stretches from ocean to ocean, studded with majestic scenery and vibrant cultures. Mother nature rains down her sunshine on us day in and day out which, which in turn coaxes so many delicasies from the hot african soil. From the cold mountains in the north to the heavily laden vines almost dipping their juicy bounty into the Atlantic Ocean – I find myself so spoilt for choice. One rogue dropping from any number of our beautiful indigenous birds could give rise to anything – from a little bulbine plant to a mighty marula tree.
Three years ago hubby and I celebrated our 25th Wedding Anniversary in true African style. We were extremely fortunate enough to spend an incredible weekend at Phinda Private Game Reserve. We witnessed a leopard kill and watched while a pride of lions gorged themselves on a nyala at night …. steam rising from the cadaver and the smell of fresh blood hanging ominously in the air. The area had recently been strangled by a wicked drought – just one week before our arrival the rain came. In only seven days – the acacia was budding – beautiful little indigenous flowers were popping up here and there – the air was clear and the animals all looked clean as if having been to the parlour. Absolutely everything seemed vibrant, alive and revived by the energy that only a good shower can bring.
We felt embraced in African love at Phinda, with the staff all flashing brilliant white smiles, we heard much laughter among them. Everything seems to happen out of sight – bush dinners are magically conjured out of thin air, exotic african dishes of smokiness and frangrance bedecked large dark wood stout legged tables, that themselves seem to whisper “welcome”. Conservation Corporation Africa – the owners of Phinda and 37 other african lodges – have reclaimed commercial land previously indentured into labour! They have set the land free, fully restoring all the indigenous fauna and flora while practicing environmentally sound eco tourism that partners with and benefits local communities. I just adore stories with happy endings like these.
The cookbook is exquisite – sporting photographs of Africa that bring tears of joy to your eyes. You recognise faces within faces and laugh out loud at the stories told in the book. Every so often you get a note from one of the staff such as this one from Dumi Ndlovu which simply reads,
To the Security Team
Last night we had a great Bush dinner very-very nice one. But the Hyena ran away with the leg of Lamb. So the plan is
to bring extra security to the Bush in future.
Prune and Venison Pan Pie
100ml vegetable Oil - 3kg Venison Cubed (I used the kudu from Wild Meats)
2 L Veal stock (I used chicken stock) - 4 carrots diced – (i used 8)
1 head table celery thickly sliced - 15ml black peppercorns
4 bay leaves - 10 juniper berries (I got mine from Giovanni’s in Green Point)
1 bouquet garni ( i made mine from rosemary – basil – sage – thyme and parsley)
250g prunes – halved and pitted - 250 ml port (i bought some Allesverloren Port – Yummy)
250g pancetta cubed - 4 cloves garlic – 2 onions diced - ground black pepper -
500g frozen puff pastry – one egg beaten for egg wash
Heat oil in a heavy casserole and brown the venison well on all sides – Remove from the pot – saute the onions for 10 minutes – Add the stock, carrots, celery,peppercorns, bay leaves, juniper berries and bouquet garni. Add the browned venison. Cover the casserole and bake in preheated oven at 150C for at least 3 hours until tender. Strain stock off and reduce down to 2 cups and place meat and veg back into the stock. Soak the prunes in the port and set aside. In a hot frying pan saute the pancetta until lightly browned then add the onions and fry for a further 5 minutes – add the garlic prune and port mixture and season – bring to the boil. Combine the venison and prune mixture in cast iron pot or pie dish and check for seasoning.
Cover with pastry – brush on an egg wash and bake in a pre-heated oven for 25 – 30 minutes.
I love Africa.