By Louise Liebenberg
IT IS a challenge that many head chefs at private game lodges have to face. How do you come up with interesting, innovative menus that not only make optimal use of local ingredients like venison, but are distinct enough from day to day should your guests decide to linger longer?
For Kichaka Luxury Game Lodge head chef Loyiso Vanda this is what inspires him – and it is why he prefers working in the bush to doing the city-slicking thing in some of SA’s top restaurants.
“Even if you’re working in the top restaurants you are bound to cook the same dishes over and over because they are on the menu,” Vanda said. “Here in the bush I can continually innovate and experiment. Some guests stay for a week or longer and so they never want to see the same dish twice.”
One of Vanda’s signature dishes is his venison loin – he often uses blesbok – which he serves with a sophisticated potato dumpling inspired by a traditional Xhosa version.
Scroll down on The Global Table today for Vanda’s recipes for this lovely dish. He also serves his venison loin with a bone-marrow or Bordelaise sauce, for which a recipe is also shared below.
Loyiso’s venison loin with potato dumpling, vegetables and Bordelaise sauce
This recipe is for a single portion, so just times however many people if you’re serving it at a dinner.
Ingredients and method for the loin:
200g venison loin which you can lightly oil, then season and cook in a grill pan to your liking when you are almost done with the other components of the dish. Loyiso prefers cooking the loin to medium rare as venison tends to become tough if you grill it longer.
Ingredients for the dumpling:
120g mashed potatoes; 30g cake flour; 30g chopped onions (sauted till golden brown); bit of salt to taste
Method for the dumpling:
Mix the mash and flour together, then make a ball with the mixture, flatten and make a well in the middle. Place your onions in the well and cover forming a ball again.
Wrap the mash, flour and onion ball in plastic clingfilm and put in a pot of boiling water. Boil for 8 to 10 minutes to ensure the flour cooks through.
Take out of the water, remove the plastic wrap and serve.
Ingredients for the Bordelaise sauce:
¼ finely chopped onions; 100g butter; 200g diced beef marrow; ¼ cracked black pepper; ½ cup red wine; 1 cup juice
Melt butter in a sauce pan and sauté the onion for 2 minutes until transparent, add red wine and reduce for another 2 minutes, add peppercorns and reduce further until almost no liquid remains. Add the juice and bone marrow and simmer for about 2 minutes.
Loyiso finely dices vegetables of his choice. He says in order for them not to lose nutrients he always blanches them first. Prepare a pot of boiling water, throw your veg into the boiling water for a minute then take it out and submerge in ice cold water to keep it crisp and prevent it from overcooking. Then you just sauce with a nob of butter to heat up and salt and pepper to season.
Plate the dish and serve.