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This little piggy made charcuterie

TGIFOOD

CURED IN MONTAGU

This little piggy made charcuterie

A very fine tasting platter of Homestead Serendipity’s charcuterie. (Photo: Bianca Coleman)

From hobby to farm, Homestead Serendipity in Montagu produces a range of charcuterie. And not just any charcuterie; the cured meats include Muscovy duck prosciutto, and wild boar and black garlic salami.

 

The writer supports Operation Hunger which has a history of positive action in the fight against malnutrition in South Africa. 

The first stop of my March 2021 road trip was Montagu, about two and a bit hours from Cape Town, depending on the stop/go roadworks which have been there since oh, about 2015. The delay is perfect if you’re in the market for a giant tennis ball or feather duster or one of those silver things for the windscreen of your car. I’d invited myself to Homestead Serendipity to find out more about the charcuterie being made there.

This was after I’d seen a Facebook post by Richard Bosman, who teaches charcuterie courses, and had been to visit. Kevin Katzke is a graduate of one such course, and with his wife Kim moved to Montagu permanently at the end of 2019. Here he experiments and cures and smokes and creates all sorts of interesting things, not only from the pigs and ducks they farm on site, but from game and other meats, using ingredients like olives, pink peppercorns and citrus from the trees outside their house.

Kevin Katzke showing off his very fine weed plants, which are fed to the pigs and make them very happy. (Photo: Bianca Coleman)

Kim and Kevin have been together six years, with five (grown) children between them from previous marriages. Kevin sailed the seas for about 20-odd years, on catamarans and motor yachts, from Africa to Europe, Thailand (where he spent two years) to the Canary Islands, Trinidad and Tobago, and across the Atlantic to Brazil and down the Amazon. That’s the short version.

“Seeing the stars in the middle of nowhere, a thousand miles from any shore, they’re not white, they’re green and they’re red and they’re yellow,” he said.

With keen understatement, Kevin refers to himself as the “adventurous type”. Besides crossing oceans, he has taken people on gyrocopter tours, and was one of the first to circumnavigate South Africa’s borders and coastline in one of these mini two-seater helicopters that look like they could be radio-controlled, they are that small. He’s also suffered a broken back – among other serious injuries – due to a skydiving incident.

“Wait, what?” I said. “What happened? Did your ‘chute not open?” In fact… that’s pretty much exactly what happened.

When Kevin’s previous wife left him in St John in the US Virgin Islands, he sold the boat they’d been on and moved from his Joburg home to Cape Town, where he met Kim at the Oranjezicht City Farm Market.

“I’d been a single mom for 18 years and raised three kids on my own, working three jobs,” she said as she picked up the story. “Just when I thought ‘this was it’, I met this man. I’d never travelled anywhere – never left SA except for Namibia. For our first date we had lunch at Dixies in Glencairn; the next day he invited me for breakfast and before I knew it I was up in a helicopter in a storm over the Waterfront. Two weeks later I was on a plane to the Seychelles. I’d never been on a plane.”

Following Bosman’s charcuterie course, Kevin began making a few products in the lounge of Kim’s Mouille Point flat, filling it with deep freezers and vacuum sealing machines.

After visiting Montagu and falling in love with the small town on the western edge of the Little Karoo, the couple decided this would be their forever place. The smallholding wasn’t even on the market, its owner an 86-year-old woman who’d had a hip replacement. The place had gone to ruin. If she was going to sell the place, it wasn’t going to be to just anybody, however. Coffee visits had to be made to convince her. Because of this and how it all fell so perfectly into place, the Katzkes named their new home Serendipity.

“We were lucky to move here before lockdown,” said Kim. “We would have killed each other.”

That’s a true sign of passion; if you haven’t wanted to stab them in their sleep, do you even love them?

Bart, the original breeding pig, with one of his offspring. By the time you read this, Bart will be ham. (Photo: Bianca Coleman)

The property needed plenty of TLC, and the hard work has been rewarded with trees bearing oranges on their doorstep, to be used in salamis. There are Muscovy and Pekin (the kind with which we are most familiar) ducks, quails and pigs. Obviously this breeding stuff takes a while so they began with Bart and Blossom, who have spawned nine piglets. “Bart is getting old and aggressive now,” said Kevin, “he has to go.”

Kevin is Buddhist and adopted vegetarianism when he was 16. He later became pescatarian because, when at sea for long periods of time, not much fresh stuff can be kept, so fishing over the side of the boat is the way to go. When he and Kim got together, and ahead of a Vietnamese trip which would include food tours, Kevin decided to try ribs. He managed one. Not long after, at the Merino Inn in Colesberg, Kevin tried again: lamb chops. He devoured them, but was violently ill afterwards. Happily, by the time they got to Vietnam, he ate everything put in front of him, including crickets – deep fried and in spring rolls.

“I love doing this stuff. I’m such a carnivore now,” said Kevin. 

Bart and Blossom begat nine piglets which are destined to become delicious charcuterie. (Photo: Bianca Coleman)

This doesn’t mean raising animals for slaughter is an easy part of the job. The first time was awful, said Kevin, and Kim wasn’t even allowed to be there to witness it. She still doesn’t watch. “We got in a couple who run a mobile butchery to do it so I could learn,” said Kevin. “I felt guilty, I felt all types of stuff,” he added. 

“It affected him for quite a while,” said Kim.

“Even with the ducks and chickens, I used to watch Thomas, our helper, and learn from him. Eventually my whole philosophy was I’m going to give them this amazing life and we all have to die sometime. They’re only going to have one bad day and we’ll make it as painless as possible. I think that’s what got me around to accepting it.”

Visitors to Montagu can book a tasting at Homestead Serendipity, which takes place at a table near the small dam. Because I’m special, obviously, we had a spectacular spread on the home patio, with wine, which then stretched to another and another bottle and the whole afternoon plus an invitation to come back and stay there. I even got to hold the ostrich chick, Montwo, who was a day short of his one-month birthday at the time. The Katzkes incubated and hatched his egg, and the little fella is quite the character, trotting up and down to chase the pigeons and other wild birds from what he considers to be his food. In other words, all the things birds eat. Everywhere. He’s still a baby though, and sleeps with a Teddy bear. Kevin said one day he hopes to walk him up the Montagu main road on a leash.

Black and white Muscovy ducks were domesticated centuries ago and their stronger tasting meat is sometimes compared with roast beef. (Photo: Bianca Coleman)

Looking at the photo above and beginning from one o’clock, you will see chicken breasts which are first marinated for 24 hours, smoked for two hours with elder wood, then vacuum packed and given the sous vide treatment for three hours, making them succulent and flavourful.

Moving around the clock is Muscovy duck prosciutto, lomo from the lean loin along the spine of the pig, and cured lardo. “It’s got to be kept in the dark because as soon as it gets light, it starts going yellow,” said Kevin. “It’s from the back of a pig, and is the same fat we use for salami.

At four o’clock is mutton prosciutto, from the leg of the sheep, for those whose spiritual beliefs forbid pork. 

The quail – from the farm – has only the wishbone and skin removed, and is prepared in the same way as the chicken – marinade, smoke, sous vide. There’s wild boar and black garlic salami, game bresaola, cabanossi made with beef, pork and aniseed, not cured but hot smoked; and culatello, which is the same as prosciutto but off the bone, from the leg. It means “little ass”. 

There’s sweet chorizo, coppa from the neck, sausage made with Peruvian pink peppercorns and married with fresh basil to pair with gin, gypsy ham, game salami with nice big bits of fat; pancetta, black garlic salami stained with squid ink, and original classic Italian salami. In the noon or midnight position is the signature Homestead Serendipity salami which is spiked with citrus notes. In a tasting like this, the artisans will usually be watching keenly for reactions, wondering which is the favourite. I’d been making mental notes as I went along, but by the time I finished with this, it was the clear winner. If I wasn’t still going to be on the road for two weeks, I would have bought some immediately.

Kim and Kevin Katzke changed their lives by moving from Cape Town to a small farm in Montagu and turning Kevin’s charcuterie hobby into a thriving business. (Photo: Bianca Coleman)

Those are not olives in the middle but quail eggs marinated in soy sauce and an excellent accompaniment to charcuterie, as are the dill pickles which the Katzkes make themselves.

Not pictured sadly is the “crack pork” – as in once you start you can’t stop – which is doused with cola, soy sauce and spices before going into a sous vide bath for 16 hours. Also not pictured is the sai krok isan, a Thai-style sausage with rice inside. In fact, there is a lot that is not in the photo because Kevin is constantly trying new things, and happy to make things to order as well. Homestead Serendipity supplies restaurants in Montagu, including the most popular, 22 On Church (closed when I was there).

This is still a small operation, too small to take on the massive coffee shop franchise chain which wanted its products, too small to do deliveries, and there’s no website yet. So if you want to get a piece of this action, you have to go to them. For more information and temptation, check out the Facebook page where the Katzkes are very active and post lots of videos. DM/TGIFood

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