Today’s guest on The Global Table is Gordon Wright, a former investment banker turned chef who, together with his wife Rose and two young sons, has embraced the country life and the fantastic culinary opportunities it offers. The family relocated to Graaff-Reinet about 18 months ago and now own the town’s historical Andries Stockenstrom Guesthouse, where Gordon has perfected his Karoo cuisine. In today’s video, Gordon shows us how to make his baked guineafowl springrolls, which he serves on wild rocket and drizzled with a raisin-muscadel sauce.
Baked guineafowl springrolls with raisin-muscadel sauce – The Recipe
Gordon hunts his own guineafowl and while it’s not easy to obtain this game bird in the city, he suggests you try specialist butcheries or food suppliers like Morton’s, as they may occasionally stock it. Alternatively, chicken or any other game bird would do. However, Gordon doesn’t recommend using duck as it could be a tad too fatty for this dish.
Ingredients for the guineafowl
Two cleaned whole guineafowl, cut into pieces and towel-dried; salt and pepper; olive oil; a bottle of good-quality wine (rose is a good bet and you should ideally use the same wine that you’ll be drinking with the meal); 3 large, fresh rosemary sprigs; 1 orange, quartered; 2 onions, finely chopped; 5 cloves of fresh garlic, finely chopped; 100g dried cranberries (optional); 250ml fresh cream; a bunch of spring onion, finely chopped; phyllo pastry sheets; 25ml melted butter for brushing; wild rocket for serving.
Ingredients for the raisin-muscadel sauce
1 bottle of red muscadel (750ml); 1 500g packet of raisins
Method for the sauce
Soak the raisins in muscadel overnight until soft and swollen. Pour the whole lot into a saucepan and bring to the boil; simmer until reduced by a third. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
Method for the guineafowl
In a heavy-based, oven-proof saucepan heat the olive oil, season pieces of guineafowl with salt and pepper, and brown lightly. Cover with wine, add the whole rosemary sprigs and the quartered orange, place the lid on and roast in the oven at 180C for 1 1/2 hours, or until the meat is tender and falling off the bone.
Once done, remove from the heat and allow to cool, then strip the meat from the bone and chop it finely (you can retain the pan juices as you may need a bit of it to moisten your springroll filling later.)
In a saucepan, heat up a glug of olive oil, add the chopped onions and sweat them off, then add the garlic and chopped-up guineafowl. Reduce the heat and simmer for three minutes, stirring continuously.
Stir in the cranberries if you’re using them, then add the cream, and the pan juices as needed. Allow this to simmer with the lid on for 10 minutes. It’s important that the mixture isn’t wet like a sauce, but rather juicy and moist.
Stir in the spring onions and remove from the heat immediately. Set aside to cool.
Using a sharp knife, cut each sheet of phyllo pastry into three equal strips, taking care not to let the pastry dry out. Brush the top side with melted butter using a basting brush.
Place a tablespoon or so of guineafowl filling at the bottom of each strip and roll it into a springroll – check the video demonstration above if you’re unsure of the method.
Baste the outside of the springrolls with butter and bake for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown, at 180 degrees.
Place a handful of fresh rocket on a plate, drizzle a tablespoon of raisin-muscadel sauce over and place a springroll on top.
Serve immediately with a crisp, fruity sauvignon blanc or a dry rose.
10 Questions: Gordon Wright
Originally from Port Elizabeth, self-taught chef Gordon Wright was schooled at Union High School in Graaff-Reinet and, despite a career in investment banking spanning almost 20 years, never quite managed to get the Karoo sand out from under his fingernails.
After much soul-searching and the want of a better, more authentic life for their two boys, Jason and Max, Gordon and his wife, Rose, took the plunge and moved to the heart of the Karoo in order to indulge both their passion for cooking and for this region “and, hopefully, earn a living”.
As an avid proponent of the Slow Food Movement, being completely commitment to using only the finest local ingredients, and keeping his menu “authentically Karoo”, Gordon has in a relatively short period of time earned a solid international reputation for his cooking.
In fact Gordon’s Restaurant, situated at the Andries Stockenstrom Guesthouse in Graaff-Reinet, now has foodies flocking to it from every corner of South Africa and the globe.
Gordon, however, describes himself as “less chef, more Karoo cook” and backs this up by taking personal responsibility for every ingredient at his table, from hunting and working the venison himself to growing the vegetables in his own garden. This way his ethos of knowing the origin of each dish “from the veld to the fork” is less an adage than a way of life.
1. When and how did your love of cooking start?
I have cooked for as long as I can remember. I’m the youngest of eight children, so we all had to muck in in the kitchen. I hated doing dishes, so I helped with the cooking instead. I remember winning a baking competition at the Walmer show in Port Elizabeth when I was about 10. My mom was the reigning champ up until then, and I’m not sure she has forgiven me yet…
2. Why is it important to you to give foreign visitors in particular a true taste of South African cuisine, and what are some of the dishes you serve that best capture the flavours from your area?
I’ve travelled a great deal around South Africa over the years; in fact, I like to think there are very few places I have not been. The local tastes and flavours of the area have always facinated me. One of the biggest gripes foreigners have about South Africa is that they can find some of the best international cuisine here (French, Italian, Greek etcetera) but what they really want is true South African cuisine, which they battle to find. I am passionate about the Karoo and its culinary traditions that have been handed down through the generations. I’d like to take these old and trusted recipes and ideas, give them a new twist and showcase good, honest Karoo cuisine as a true culinary art form.
An example of my style of Karoo cuisine with a twist would be a starter of wild hare, infused with whiskey and honey. Hare and rabbit have long been a delicacy in Europe and is particularly sought-after among farm workers in the Karoo, yet very few South Africans outside this small group have ever tried it. It is available in abundance, makes brilliant eating and is very healthy.
A main could be mountain rheebok pie cooked in rosemary and red wine (mountain rheebok is an elusive quarry, yet is possibly among the finest venison on the planet. It is difficult to hunt and for this reason the meat is hardly ever available commercially. Hunting for the pot is an integral part of Karoo culture and as an avid hunter myself there is no greater compliment to your dinner guest than to bring to the table a dish that requires more than mere final preparation, but something that reflects your intimate input and effort from the veld to their fork for their pleasure.
A warm comfort dessert of baked pancake roll with a pear and brandy sauce and home-made cinnamon ice-cream should round of a perfect Karoo winter’s evening with family and friends.
3. Do you have any favourite chefs and what do you enjoy or admire about their approach and style of cooking?
To be honest, I don’t have any particular favourites. They all have their own style. I enjoy the fact that so many have embraced the concept of keeping it simple and using the the best quality ingredients. I subscribe to the school of “good, honest food, prepared with care and conscience”. I think I just made that up!
4. Why do you put such a premium on organic and regionally sourced ingredients?
The Karoo, despite being an arid and barren place to the casual observer , is actually one of the most fertile regions on earth – just add water! Karoo farmers have over the generations farmed organically because of two main factors – commercial pesticides are expensive and the extreme climate kills off parasites anyway. Long years of drought and uncertain rainfall have forced them to farm smarter and more in harmony with nature. That’s why we have some of the best lamb in the world and our mohair products are internationally recognised as the best. With such an abundance of good, wholesome food at my disposal, why would I not want to show it off to the whole world? I often think that the food actually makes me look good, rather than the other way around!
5. What’s the best part of living – and cooking – in the Karoo? And the worst?
The best part – the warm, hospitable people, and being within a half an hour of my direct food scource. The worst part – people who just don’t get it.
6. Where do your ideas and inspiration come from for the dishes you serve at Gordon’s Restaurant?
The people, the veld, the way of life and the way good home cooking and sharing a meal with friends around a table is such a way of life.
7. What are a few of your favourite locally sourced ingredients?
There’s lamb from the local farmers and the ability to get out into the veld at a moment’s notice and harvest my own venison. (Jean, Graham, Joe – you know who you are). Then there are Linda Charles’s farm chickens, my wife Rose’s home-made green fig preserve, Mrs Bosch’s honey. I could go on for days…
8. Besides making use of quality ingredients from the area, you also produce a few of your own?
We try to keep things as authentic as possible and so we make all our own stewed fruit, jams and preserves using authentic Karoo recipes. As a hunter I try to use every part of the animal I harvest, so apart from the obvious meat cuts, I also make salamis, sausages, carpaccio, pates and so on. We even go to the degree of tanning the hides and recovering our furniture with it. We grow a lot of our vegetables in our garden and have our own chickens which supply us with beautiful free-range eggs.
9. What are the five ingredients your kitchen is never without?
Garlic, fresh rosemary, a cut of well-hung venison, quality local olive oil and a good bottle of South African wine.
10. Which kitchen gadget or tool is your current favourite and why?
I have recently added a set of Kershaw knives to my collection. They are brilliant and I don’t know how I’ve lived without them so far.