My mate Tim van Heerden owns and runs the company Karoo Wingshooting. During season he is out in the mountains with clients looking for grey-winged partridge, pigeons, guinea fowl and all sorts of wonderful game birds. Naturally, I love to get out and stretch my legs in the Karoo mountains and whenever Tim invites me along, I am more than game (if you’ll excuse the pun). He has a good pair of pointers and birding in the Karoo mountains over a good set of dogs is one of the true pleasures in life. Real bucket list stuff.
Two of my favourite things to hunt over dogs are guinea fowl and grey-winged partridge. Guinea fowl are wily, deceptive and move incredibly fast through the undergrowth. Grey-winged partridge, on the other hand, is even more difficult and is considered one of the toughest game birds to hunt. Its habitat is typically at over 1 500 m above sea level, where the terrain is rugged and the air is thin. Grey-winged hunting is not for the faint of heart, nor the unfit. Hunting them over a brace of pointers is very difficult but also very addictive; you can walk 10 – 15 km in a day in very rough terrain and they will sit tight until the very last second, when they explode in a cacophony of feathers and noise from virtually under your feet. It is a real challenge and you will certainly earn every bird you get.
This recipe pays homage to the two champion game birds that, in my humble opinion, are the best. It’s good for a small crowd and will be an absolute winner with your friends.
knob of unsalted butter
3 red onions, roughly chopped
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 thumb-sized pieces fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 grey-winged partridges, cleaned and portioned
1 guinea fowl, cleaned and portioned
salt and freshly ground pepper
4 oranges, halved
zest from 1 orange
500 ml chicken stock
1 handful fresh thyme
4 large carrots, cut into big chunks
1 handful broccoli florets (or any crisp seasonal veg)
Melt the butter in a hot no. 3 (or bigger) potjie and sweat off the onions, garlic and ginger. Add the bird portions and brown, salting and peppering as necessary. Once browned, squeeze the juice of three of the oranges into the pot. Add the zest, chicken stock, thyme and carrots, and give it all a good stir. Place the remaining orange halves on top (flesh side down), close the lid and reduce the heat so that the pot never reaches more than a gentle simmer.
Remember the golden rules with a potjie: once the lid is on, never lift it or stir the pot unless someone’s life depends on it; and a pot that boils, is a pot that spoils.
Allow the pot to bubble very gently (not boil) for about three hours. You want to see one constant but faint little steam funnel escaping from the pot and hear a very gentle bubbling when you put your ear to the pot. That is all!
Add the broccoli to the pot about 15 minutes before serving, and remove the orange halves, squeezing out the remaining juice as you do so. (Don’t be tempted to stir though!)
Once ready, remove the pot from the heat and get ready to rumble. Serve over pearled wheat with a magnificent Chardonnay or even a robust Chenin Blanc. DM
This recipe is from Gordon Wright’s book, Veld to Fork. There are more venison recipes in that book and in his recent best-seller, Karoo Food. Photo by Sean Calitz.
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