THE Global Table is on to its newest mission – getting Eastern and Southern Cape chefs to share their favourite recipes! We want the region’s best chefs to share recipes that not only look fabulous on the plate, but will be easy enough for home cooks to re-create in their own kitchens. And today’s recipe, by Morné Steenkamp in the Garden Route town of Knysna, definitely falls into that category – so scroll down if you want to learn how to make Morne’s coriander and feta-stuffed chicken breasts served with vegetable ragout and herb oil!
Morne, 35, is the executive chef at Salmon, the swish but comfortable restaurant at the new Premier Hotel Knysna – The Moorings.
Salmon is not only open to hotel and resort guests, and is known for unfussy comfort food with a classy edge. And, with warming winter options like potato and spring onion soup with fresh cream for starters; honey-glazed pork neck steak on caramelised pineapple couscous dressed with a red-pepper reduction for mains; and fruit fritters with home-made brandy ice-cream and a blackberry coulis for dessert, it’s definitely worth a visit when next you find yourself on the Garden Route.
Morne, who conceptualises all the dishes, was born on the South Coast of Durban, but raised and schooled in Cape Town. He moved to Hermanus in 1993 and studied at Warwick’s Chef’s School.
His career highlights include several years at Spier Wine Estate in the Western Cape, and stints at five-star establishments like Sun International’s Table Bay Hotel and the Relais & Chateaux-rated Tsala Treetop Lodge in the Tsitsikamma, as well as Eastern Cape establishments like Mpongo Private Game Reserve near East London and the five-star Kuzuko Lodge in the Greater Addo Elephant National Park.
It was his grandmother who first inspired him to cook, he says, with “Sunday roast lunches and mid-morning brunches of Natal avos and grapes” a favourite childhood memory. “My parents also got me cooking at a young age,” he recalls.
Like many in the profession, Morne finds it annoying when people think being a chef is a “glam” career. “The truth is it’s hard work and long hours, and you have no social life,” he observes. “It’s not just a career; it’s a lifestyle, and it’s the love of food that will carry you through the years. You need to have a passion for food and you can’t think of this career as merely a job.”
His culinary heroes? “When I started 18 years ago, I would’ve said Marco Pierre White, for his fiery personality and his love of food and all things good. But now that I’ve grown older, and a little wiser, I’d say Rick Stein, for his ability to make food sound like poetry, and Gordon Ramsey, the hated rock star of food, because I understand where he is coming from… and I really don’t worry or care what people think of me either!”
* Calling all chefs! E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to share a recipe and tell us a bit about yourself. Salvelio and Louise will, wherever possible, photograph each selected chef with a dish of their choice and, besides the recipe for the featured dish, The Global Table will also post either a profile of the chef, or a Q&A style column, on the blog every Saturday. Don’t miss it!
Morne’s recipe: Feta and herb stuffed chicken breast with a vegetable ragout and a herb oil
4 chicken breasts, skinless; 80g coriander; 100g feta; 80g baby marrow; 80g aurbergine; 80g mixed peppers; 80g butternut; 1 Tbsp tomato paste; seasoning; 50ml olive oil
Blend 40g of the coriander and all of the feta into a paste.
Gently cut a pocket into the chicken and fill with feta paste.
Season and grill or bake for about 18 minutes, or until cooked through.
Blend the oil and the remaining coriander till smooth; set aside.
Cut the vegetables into small cubes and gently pan fry, then add the tomato paste and a little water. Cook until the vegetables are just tender. Season and pile onto individual plates.
Slice the chicken into three pieces and place on top of the vegetables. Drizzle with the herb oil and garnish with fresh coriander on top.