Kudu should be everywhere. As should springbok. The meat of these two magnificent wild beasts is superb to eat, low in fat, high in protein and tender. Both meats take to sweetness and spice, and can stand up to pungent flavours such as a good, stinky blue cheese of the kind that is quite liable to crawl on to the plate of its own accord if you’ve left it to mature for long enough.
The argument, by those shy of game meats, is usually straightfward: it tastes “gamey”, and this is a flavour many don’t take to. Often, the supposed gaminess has more to do with the way venison is cooked than with the meat itself. The old-fashioned way was usually to slow-cook a haunch of venison in a broth consisting of mostly red wine, with things such as juniper berries and bay leaf, peppercorns and other strongly-flavoured ingredients. Such aromatics do nothing but enhance the “gaminess” and don’t really do a joint of venison any favours, unless the pungency is offset by something sweet. I find that the juices from a jar of preserves can work wonders, lending both sweetness and depth of flavour.
Franck Dangereux, whose magnificence as a chef is offset only by the annoying distance his restaurant is from my home, used to make a springbok steak with what he called ‘Bo-Kaap spices” and orange, a wonderful recipe which remains memorable. The recipe’s blend of spice with citrus and just enough sweetness could hardly be bettered as a match for springbok or kudu.
There is of course the argument that these beautiful bokkies belong in the wild and do not deserve to die so that we might be nourished by them. But that argument – unless you are a genuine vegetarian – loses weight if the one making the argument eats meat raised on farms or, worse, in battery sheds. If the argument of the Organic Police is that we should eat only meat from animals that have been treated well, what better a life can a wild beast hope for than actually to have lived its life (up to a point) in the wild, beneath the sun and the stars with the breeze ruffling their fur?
I eat meat, unapologetically, and would sooner consume the flesh of such an animal than that of some ill-treated specimen that’s lived in cramped misery in some bastard farmer’s hokkie.
Where to find springbok or kudu meat is another thing. I bought kudu loin steak last weekend from Uwe, the wiry butcher near the top of Kloof Street in Tamboerskloof.
Eschewing on this occasion the spice and citrus route, I decided to make a blue cheese sauce for it, and bought a wedge of Fairview’s Blue Rock and a tub of reduced fat cream, the latter being a sop to my delusional idea that by using reduced fat cream somehow it would be healthy. It’s like the business of buying either full cream milk, “two percent” or fat-free. I had chosen “two percent” for ages when, telling my doctor this, she giggled and said, “How much fat do you think there is in full cream milk, Tony?”
“Ummm…” I replied.
“Three percent!” she said, throwing her head back with laughter.
I’d never thought of it like that, don’t know about you. So fat-free it is when I buy milk, and I don’t doubt that “reduced fat” cream is barely any lighter than double cream. Certainly it behaved, in the pot, like proper cream.
Kudu steak with blue cheese sauce
1 300g kudu loin steak each
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic, utterly crushed
100g blue cheese of your choice
50ml dry white wine
Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbs olive oil
1 or 2 Tbs butter
To make the sauce, simmer the onions and garlic in olive oil until soft, and deglaze with the wine. Cook until reduced by half, then add the cream, bring to a simmer and allow to simmer until it reduces and thickens, about 10 minutes at a gentle bubble.
Crumble in the blue cheese and stir until it has all been incorporated. Season with salt and pepper and leave to simmer on the lowest heat for about 10 to 15 minutes. The flavours will intensify slowly during this process, but don’t forget about it. Once it tastes just right, both in flavour and texture, put a lid on and remove from the heat, to be reheated when you need it.
Cook the steaks – preferably on a griddle, to give it attractive char lines – in butter or butter and olive oil over a relatively high heat but not so high as to burn one side. Place on the heated fat and leave – do not touch, Daisy – until little beads of ‘sweat’ start to show on the top side of the steak. This is when to turn them and continue cooking the other side. You’ll have to judge the balance of the cooking time which depends on the thickness of the meat and how your guests want theirs cooked, but if any want them well done, show them the door.
Season with salt and pepper a minute or so before you take them off. Wrap tightly in foil for five minutes to rest the meat.
I did mine with vine tomatoes, which I simmered at a very gentle heat in vegetable stock and dry white wine into which I popped a handful of rosemary sprigs, and seasoned with salt and pepper. They were wonderful and the bonus is that they double up as a garnish.
First published in Weekend Argus October 2012