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What’s cooking today: Snowbush venison

Tony Jackman’s snowbush venison, served on ceramic ware by Mervyn Gers and garnished with a sprig of wilde-als, another of the Karoo wild herbs. On the teaspoon is dried kapokbos. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

Fynbos herbs and venison are an enticing match. Snowbush, also known as wild rosemary or kapokbos, is one of the herbs the animal would have grazed on. Perfect veld to plate cooking.

Fynbos herbs are on centre stage in my kitchen at the moment after I took delivery of dried fynbos herbs from SouthAfricanFynbos.com ranging from snowbush/ kapokbos, Cape Mountain Sage, honeybush, cancer bush, buchu and rooibos to two pelargoniums: mint, and nutmeg.

I haven’t cooked with them all yet, but started with the one I knew best: kapokbos, which I have growing in a pot near my kitchen door, though the early winter chill seems to be seeing it off. The old weather sages of the Karoo are saying it’s going to be a long, cold winter, so best store up recipes like this to help us all through it.

Because I wanted the kapokbos (both as dried herb and as salt) to be discernible on the palate, I left other herbs and spices out of it, so everything else in the stew has to do with the age-old French peasant cooking approach: the mirepoix of carrot, onion and celery, red wine, a backbone of tomato, as well as something sweet (venison needs that). 

I included some mustard too, to balance out the wine and the sweetness of Old Brown Sherry and a little prickly pear syrup for another touch of the veld the blesbok had roamed before my Day of the Hunt late last winter.

Finally, venison needs pork in one way or another, so I used back bacon with a nice fatty edge.

Ingredients

(This recipe fed 12 people as a main course for a dinner party)

3 Tbsp olive oil

2 kg blesbok leg meat, cubed (other game such as springbok, kudu or fallow deer/ takbok will do)

2 large carrots, diced

2 large onions, chopped

2 celery stalks, diced

3 garlic cloves, chopped

200 g back bacon, diced

2 Tbsp kapokbos (snowbush) dried herbs

Kapokbos salt to taste

Black pepper

600 ml SAAM Pinotage or similar

800 ml beef stock

150 ml Old Brown Sherry

3 Tbsp red prickly pear syrup

1 x 400 g can chopped tomatoes

3 Tbsp Dijon mustard

2 Tbsp cornflour dissolved in 4 Tbsp cold water or milk

Method

Simmer the diced/chopped onion, carrot, celery and garlic in olive oil on a low heat for 10 minutes or so, stirring.

Add the diced bacon and cook, stirring, for 3 or 4 minutes.

Add the red wine and cook it down on a high heat until about half of it has cooked away. Add the cubed venison and cook, stirring, for 3 or 4 minutes.

Add the beef stock and sherry, the herbs, syrup and can of chopped tomatoes, and stir in the mustard. Season to taste with kapokbos salt and black pepper.

Bring to a slow simmer, put the lid on, and cook on the stove top for a good three hours or until the meat is very tender.

Stir in the dissolved cornflour and stir while it thickens, for about 15 minutes. Keep it warm or reheat when you’re ready to serve. I served it with puréed pumpkin and a fynbos potato bake (potato scallops, sliced red onion, nutmeg pelargonium salt, Cape Mountain Sage, butter, cream, chicken stock). DM/TGIFood

Kapokbos and other herbs and salts are available from the SouthAfricanFynbos.com online shop.

Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Champion 2021. His book, foodSTUFF, is available in the DM Shop. Buy it here

Mervyn Gers Ceramics supplies dinnerware for the styling of some TGIFood shoots. For more information, click here.

Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks. Share your versions of his recipes with him on Instagram and he’ll see them and respond.

SUBSCRIBE to TGIFood here. Also visit the TGIFood platform, a repository of all of our food writing. 

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