CHEF JP’S FANS AND FAVOURITES FEAST
IMAGES AND WORDS: CHEF JP LE ROUX
Now that the Springboks are back on the field, I have decided to make a few traditional South African FANS AND FAVORITES dishes with a twist – something that the Springboks are known for late in the second half when the score line is not very comforting and supporters are on the edges of their seats.
What does happen now that our much loved sports stars are out there tackling the Welsh and, soon, the All Blacks, is that fans tend to gather at their homes to hail our heroes and enjoy the game together – oh and shout advice to the referee, of course.
That usually means a traditional braai. But, in the wake of Covid, many of us have become far more creative with what we dish up and, in the spirit of seeing the Boks win more lineouts and get the ball over the line, I have decided to invite a few rugby crazy friends over for a more creative offering. That way, we have great rugby inspired fare to celebrate another victory by the World Cup winners – or plenty of comfort food when the score ends up much like the disappointing result after the second Welsh test last week.
This time round, I’m serving a creamy mushroom and leek soup, followed by a springbok roast in the potjie accompanied by a green and gold vegetable feast. Once all is said and done, I plan to gather the left overs and put them to one side to create some venison pies for later whilst I go through all the replays.
KICK OFF SOUP
This is a great way to start your feast – either just before the national anthems or during half time.
This heart-warming Portobello mushroom soup comes with steamed leeks and is both simple and moreish.
In a saucepan, I blanche my mushrooms (400 grams will do). Cook them for 5 minutes, keeping the lid on your saucepan to let the natural fungi aromatics steam away. Add some salt and pepper to taste.
Start boiling 1 litre of water on the side. Add about four packets of brown onion soup mix. Clean three fresh leeks and put them in a steamer for about eight minutes or until they are soft and tender. They are easy to dice after they have been cooked.
Add all your ingredients to your pot and keep at a gentle simmer.
When you are ready to serve, garnish with some croutons, chives and micro herbs. This should serve six rugby fans.
BOK IN A POT
“Catch me if you can, said the bok running around the pot … “
As I would imagine with any international clash of the rugby giants – and as a junior Springbok track athlete myself who trained with legends like Dick Muir, Tony Watson, Jeremy Thompson and by good friend, Cabous van der Westhuizen (who just happens to own one of the world’s famous seafood restaurants in Grand Bay, Mauritius) –excellence always comes from the preparation.
When it comes to food, I take meticulous care in starting my dishes on the right foot with the best available ingredients.
Strangely enough, my mother’s nick nickname is Bokkie, so this dish is also a tribute to her as she assisted me in my kitchen to help prepare some of these dishes – a sous chef par excellence.
This week’s meat turned out to be quite a big bokkie to brine – 3 kg in weight to be exact. I love to marinate my meat in mother’s milk – actually, buttermilk. The brine consists of 200ml buttermilk, 750ml good old fashioned old brown sherry, 100ml red wine vinegar (I know what you’re thinking, this bokkie is getting dronk), 1 rosemary spring, 2 heaped Tablespoons coarse salt, a glug of apple cider vinegar, 4 bay leaves, ground pepper, a dash of nutmeg and a handful of whole cloves.
Heading to the braai, stir up some flames and grab a potjie. On a slow steady heat, add some diced onions, your marinated venison, a bottle of old brown sherry, a beef stock cube, one can of (Springbok green) cream soda for a bit of sparkle and sweetness and slow cook for 2 hours.
Open the lid and let the bokkie simmer down to serving temperature. Add some rosemary, fresh lemon and you are ready to bok and roll …
Then prep some diced carrots, yellow baby sweet potato and some broccoli florets. You can either steam these or put them under the grill with a drizzle of olive oil and serve separately or knock on the flavours and add them to the pot about 20 minutes before serving.
SIDE LINE DISHES
Venison is not just traditional South African fare, but also pays homage to our beautiful heritage. So, whilst our succulent springbok potjie is simmering away, we are going to prepare some sexy side-line dishes.
As a quick aside, do you remember the days of school boy rugby when half time meant that the oranges were brought on? Well, this is the season where we have an abundance of beautiful citrus fruit to enjoy as is or to add to dishes for a little extra zing.
So, having three hours to have some fun and maybe watch some rugby too, you can make a colourful themed side line snack attack, a prelude to the game that is about to start.
Let the blood orange battle versus the kiwi begin …
FROM YOUR SOUTH AFRICAN PANTRY:
1 large grapefruit
50 ml South African blood orange Mampoer
2 Tablespoons white sugar
65 vine tomatoes
1 small diced onion
10 grams biltong bits
150 grams venison loin, cut in to even strips
one medium kiwi fruit
10 grams of Kiri (not kiwi) gold butter
salt and pepper
As a cheeky and sneaky chef, I confess that I have many a card up my sleeve – in this case, a tender loin, To create this dish, I make a jus with a blood orange and rooibos mampoer. Mix some fresh orange and grapefruit and then stir it up a notch in a pan, adding a dash of sugar to caramelise, and burn the alcohol away (of course, not completely). Then, sear the Springbok loin strips, make a quick salsa with the tomatoes and onion and slice and dice a dash of biltong and topple it on the seared fillet drenched in my gold liquid jus. Complete your dish by placing a fresh kiwi on top – hang on, we’ll have to see about that!
WHISTLE STOP PIES
Once the final whistle has gone and you have toasted the winners (hopefully Siya Kolisi and his men), you can razzle up some pies for your friends (or foes) to take home – or for those who might still be hungry enough to enjoy as the ultimate midnight snack.
I rolled out some (store bought and defrosted) puff pastry and added the left overs that I had let cool and mixed together.
Six minutes later and it will be time for a scrum (… ptious) knock on.
Oh and, by the way, did you know that in some countries, the term “meat pie” is actually another name for a try – bring them on!
THE HOKEY POKEY (OR IS THAT THE HAKA POKEY?)
As a gentleman, a scholar and a fair sportsman, I fully support the ideology of letting the best team win. (Well maybe…) What I also know, is that there is no harm in taking a few tips from your competition, so here goes.
Up until now, New Zealand has claimed fame when it comes to this dessert – vanilla ice cream with chocolate and kiwi fruit. I decided that it was a time for a bit of turnover ball and blended a little of my own creativity into this symbiotic taste sensation.
With a little smile whilst remembering that iconic Monty Python saying – “just another waiver mint sir), I added a wafer and some honey comb… okay, so that meant adding a little gold to the green but it was all in the best of spirits and in pursuit of the perfect taste conversion.
The fun and games never end so, as we get to the end of the match and there are no yellow or red cards (my fans are expected to behave perfectly), I thought I’d add another mouth-watering final touch – a mock tail shooter called the Springbok Scrum.
The thinking was that, because my friends had absorbed so much sherry (okay and a few Castles), it would be good to go easy with some cream soda and a dash of lemon to bring the game to a perfect end … however, if you’d like to try a bit of “crouch, bind, engage” and take things further, you can add a little of another indigenous favourite – amarula – to round it off.