If you want to make me seriously happy, bring me a pristine 3 kg leg of Springbok as a present. That is what my friends Niel and Nicoline Coetzer did. That piece of dark red meat was so beautiful that I almost ate it raw. OK, not really. But I promise you, the meat smelled like beautifully aromatic red wine while I was cutting it into cubes – just amazing.
At first, I was looking for a recipe to roast this leg of Springbok whole in the oven. I contemplated marinating it for a few days in buttermilk and gin, then stuffing it with a bread, raisin and bacon stuffing, wrapping it with bacon and roasting it overnight on a very low heat. But then there was the other possibility of making a hearty, rustic Springbok pie with some proper sour cream pastry. I’m such a sucker for comfort food. So pie it was.
My favourite recipe for fine stewed venison comes from “Huisgenoot Top 500 Wenresepte” – an absolute classic SA recipe by Marietjie Koekemoer (you’ve got to trust a woman with a name like that). The only thing that I don’t usually add, is the extra lamb knuckles. But that all depends on how keen you are on the taste of the actual venison meat. I love it, but some people like it to be a bit less “in your face”.
I would advise you to start defrosting your meat in the morning, if you are going to start with the marinating process that evening. Then you can start your cooking process the next day, or even the day after that. So don’t be in a rush – all good things take time. And in the case of this Springbok pie, it really tastes better the next day, and the next.
If you don’t have access to Springbok meat, it can be replaced by most other venison meats.
- 180 ml (3/4 cup) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 20 ml (4 teaspoons) balsamic vinegar
- 60 ml (1/4 cup) olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 3 lemon leaves (I use bay leaves)
- 5 whole cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander, toasted
- 1,5 kg Springbok meat, cut into cubes (I used the leg, but it is perfect to use cheaper cuts like the neck etc.)
- 500 g lamb knuckles or lamb stewing meat (if you don’t want to use the lamb meat, substitute it with more venison meat)
- 250 g smoked bacon, cut into cubes
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 375 ml (1 and a half cups) water
- salt to taste
- 250 ml (1 cup) red wine
- 15 ml (1 tablespoon) flour
- 30 ml (2 tablespoons) apricot jam
- 15 ml (1 tablespoon) natural yoghurt
- Mix lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, bay leaves, cloves, pepper and coriander. Marinate the meat cubes overnight or for 1 day in the mixture, covered, in the fridge.
- In a heavy based large pot, fry the bacon, onions, garlic over medium heat untill the onions are soft and translucent.
- Add the marinated meat along with the marinade and add water.
- Put the lid on and cook for around 1 and a half to 2 hours, or untill all the meat has cooked from the bone.
- Remove from heat and cool. Debone, and mix well.
- Mix the red wine, flour and jam to a paste, and add to the meat. Return to the stovetop on medium heat, and heat through carefully untill thoroughly incorporated and piping hot.
- Lastly, stir in the yoghurt. Remove from heat.
- Spoon meat mixture into an ovenproof dish. Cover with a sheet of home-made sour cream pastry or store-bought puff pastry.
- Cut small slits in the pastry, paint with egg-wash, and bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for about 40 minutes or untill golden brown and puffy. Serve with rice and veggies.
Sour cream pastry:
If you don’t mind extra effort, this pastry is really worth making. But if you are looking for a quick option, rather use store-bought puff pastry.
Start making the pastry while your meat is marinating. It takes a good few hours to roll and rest.
Ingredients: 3 cups white bread flour, 1 teaspoon salt, 250 g cold butter, 1 cup sour cream.
Method: Sift flour and salt together. Cut butter into small cubes, and rub with your fingers into the flour mixture untill it resembles big breadcrumbs. Add the sour cream, and cut it into the flour mixture untill it starts to come together. Knead lightly into a ball (don’t add any liquid, it will eventually become a soft ball of dough). Cover and rest the dough for at least 30 minutes in the fridge, or overnight. Roll out on a floured surface, then fold into thirds. Roll out again, and fold into thirds. Repeat a third time. Return the dough to the fridge for another 30 minutes. Now repeat the rolling and folding process. Rest again in the fridge. The dough is now ready to roll out into a 5 mm thick sheet before baking.