Hartford House

The Home of Good Conversation, Fine Wine and Classic Horses.

Award-winning hotel and restaurant situated at Summerhill Stud on the picturesque KwaZulu-Natal Midlands Meander, South Africa.

Filtering by Tag: Dargle Ducks

SUPPORT THE LOCAL SUPPLIER

It's clear why these trout look and taste so good / Cooked in Africa (p)

It's clear why these trout look and taste so good / Cooked in Africa (p)

"Getting out of the kitchen, pulling on my gumboots, and heading across KwaZulu-Natal's Midlands with pen and paper in hand is my kind of day out with the team."

Jackie Cameron Head Chef

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef

We all know we should be supporting the small, local farmer - but how many of us actually take heed of the cry? Conscientious farmers who consider the environment and offer professional service are an inspiration. Their enthusiasm and desire to improve South African produce are motivating. Over the years I have been fortunate to meet many wonderful people in the hospitality industry including my suppliers whose personalities and moving stories thrill me.

I challenge you to get to know the area in which you live. With an enquiring mind visit the farms; listen to foodie conversations; shop at the farmers' market and local farm stalls. Taste, ask questions, and get to the root of ingredients. Meet the baker, cheesemaker and farmer behind the various products you use, and ask to see the methods adopted. This ensures an understanding of the process and a different eating experience. You will be able to retell interesting stories to guests, friends and family over the next meal. My regular outings to visit suppliers are exhilarating and educational. Getting out of the kitchen, pulling on my gumboots, and heading across KwaZulu-Natal's Midlands with pen and paper in hand is my kind of day out with the team.

Arriving at Chrissie's Farmhouse in Eston, just outside of Richmond, is overwhelming in every aspect. Her home is a cheese museum filled with items such as an 1820's Gouda press that is still in working order, over 50 cheese Victorian or Art Deco dishes and large Stilton bells. Chrissie has been manufacturing boutique cheeses on her farm with her herd of Ayrshire cows for over 25 years, and produces Cheddar-based cheese, Stilton in season and some soft varieties of Brie. Her determination is inspirational. Her produce is world class, winning silver in the London Cheese Awards. The heads of cheese, which she refers to as landmines, are electric on the palate and showcase her eccentric personality. Her enthusiasm is contagious and I appreciate her cheese more because I know Chrissie the person, her background and her cheese-making processes.

Sue's farm, Wayfarer Trout, is in the heart of the Midlands and, having the utmost respect for my car, I take a very slow drive along gravel roads to her farm. At the end of the drive, one is greeted by a lush, picture-perfect haven with a striking reed-and-lily-filled dam and the Brookland's pristine waters run through the property. It's clear why these trout look and taste so good. In this environment and with water temperatures that remain below 24°C, conditions are ideal. Wayfarer Trouts are perfecty filleted, pin-boned and tastefully presented and visiting this farm has raised my level of appreciation for the product. I enjoy cooking for guests who know about food and wine so it stands to reason that suppliers must be grateful to be supplying chefs who appreciate the effort spent on developing perfect produce.

Dean and Serene, mother and son, are the proud owners of Dargle Ducks in Dargle. Going to their farm is an education and puts most farms to shame. The simplicity, and their having accomplished going back to what really matters, is motivating. They call their ducks 'open range' because they are free to roam day and night. The feed, which includes sunflowers, mealies, cabbages, cauliflowers, broccoli, spinach, wheat, rye grass, beans and kikuya is grown specifically for the ducks. The 'good life' is seen in every plump duck breast that is deboned in our kitchen. The proportions of fat to meat are exceptional; the size and tenderness notable.

Search for the best possible ingredients your money can buy, be it for home or restaurant cooking. I always say I'll never serve a guest something that I would not serve my parents - the two people I never want to disappoint.

It is a fact that the more interest we take in the products we use, the better quality ingredients we will have to work with. I suggest we focus on promoting the local suppliers in our rich and resourceful country. I would like to see more locally-driven menus highlighting small and large local suppliers. It's an exciting time for us as lovers of food. If we stand together we can carve the direction of food by educating the public.

Extract from CHEF! Issue 29

KWAZULU-NATAL MIDLANDS PRODUCE SUPPLIERS

Sunday lunch at Hartford House

Sunday lunch at Hartford House

"The rest of the country is becoming aware of the excellent produce available here in KwaZulu-Natal."

Jackie Cameron Head Chef

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef

Albeit slowly, the rest of the country is becoming aware of the excellent produce available here in KwaZulu-Natal.

Earlier this year I was in Cape Town as a judge for the EAT IN Awards. The panel included Anelde Greeff (EAT IN editor), Pete Goffe-Wood (Master Chef SA judge), Abigail Donnelly (EAT OUT editor), Anna Trapido, (editor of Food to Freedom, featuring Nelson Mandela), Deon van Wyk (head buyer for Melissa's) and myself. Two days of intense tasting lead us to experience the extremely interesting quality of ingredients in and around South Africa. I was pleased to note the local KwaZulu-Natal suppliers who had entered. Here's to next year and to putting even more KZN products on the map.

Back to 'local is lekker' and the suppliers I am currently using. Pork pies, sausages, sliced gammon and well-smoked, streaky bacon from Caz, of Dargle Valley Pork, are top class. They help make breakfast memorable. Pork mince balls with chunky barbeque/pineapple sauce is an unusual dish and worth a try.

From Dargle Valley Ducks I order Serene and Dean's whole birds and they also sell the thighs separately, which is good to know should you want to make confit. I recently tried their sausages and duck liver pate and was very favourably impressed. We make our own at Hartford House but I recommend this pate for home use. Serve with crispy, thin Melba toast and sweetened strawberry-and-rosemary relish.

Nothing can compare when it comes to goat's cheese from Fran's Swissland Cheese. If you live in KZN I suggest you visit her farm on the Midlands Meander. Her St Maure, slightly warmed on a bruschetta with home-marinated beetroot, is a delicious snack.

Chrissie'sfarmhouse cheddar is on my list of favourites. I always include a serving of this with Christmas cake. All her cheeses tickle the taste buds - and look out for her Stilton; it's full of character.

La Petite Francecamembert, made in the classical French tradition, oozes creaminess. Try it on a water biscuit with their rose syrup, which includes delicate pink petals, or with their fig preserve.

Croft Farm Chickens are free-range, happy hens. I use Candy and Chris' delicious, plump livers and their whole chickens and can also recommend their pies, rolls, spatchcocks and stuffed roasts too. What is a tasty roast chicken without a super crispy roast potato? Try the accompanying recipe. It promises to please.

Sue's trout from Wayfarer Trout can only be explained to the initiated - once bitten you won't go anywhere else. Hers are pin-boned and tastefully presented - seared with lemon is my choice, alternatively you could use the smoked trout in a spread.

I would like to see more rabbit dishes on our country-restaurant menus. It is often our best seller on a Sunday at Hartford House. Try Ziggy's New-Zealand rabbits and make a superb hot terrine or casserole.

Speak to Greg from Greg's Farm Stall for anything a little unusual with regards to vegetables. Think micro herbs, coloured carrots, Jerusalem artichokes and fresh horseradish.

I look forward to judging the EAT IN competition next year and to welcoming many more KZN entries - olives, pickles, preserves; in fact all things edible. Remember to send your whole range because that gives a better overview. Should you produce something special or know of someone making or producing something unique, please let me know. The better informed I am the better I can inform the rest of the country.

KZN MIDLANDS PRODUCE SUPPLIERS

Dargle Valley Pork - Caz - 0824570987
Dargle Ducks - Dean - 0824220806
Swissland Goat's Cheese - Fran - 0824183440
Chrissie's Farmhouse Cheddar - Chrissie - 0825586049
La Petite France Camembert - Geri - 0824916623
Croft Farm Chickens - Chris or Kandy - 0823398892 - www.croftfarmchicken.com
Wayfarer Trout - Sue - 0824153780
Ziggy's Rabbit - Ziggy - 0827353821
Greg's Farm Stall - Greg - 076674552

Take these recipes and try them.

zulu shield

PORK MINCE BALLS
STRAWBERRY AND ROSEMARY RELISH
MARINATED BEETROOT
CRISPY ROAST POTATOES
SMOKED TROUT SPREAD
RABBIT CASSEROLE

Send comments and food-related questions to jackie@hartford.co.za. I always look forward to hearing from you. For the latest on local foodie news add me as a friend on FACEBOOK. Find me on Twitter - jackie_cameron.

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef
Hartford House
www.hartford.co.za
jackie@hartford.co.za
+27 33 263 2713

Assisted by Elaine Boshoff for recipe development and photography

DUCK RECIPES : DIFFERENT, INTERESTING AND EXCITING

Pan Seared Duck Breast

Pan Seared Duck Breast
(Photo : Sally Chance)

"Duck is my favourite dish when dining out..."

Jackie Cameron Head Chef

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef

Duck is my favourite dish when dinning out. It's a regular on many restaurant menus but not in the home kitchen; probably because most people are not familiar with the cooking process required, and the yield of one duck for two people can be pricey. However, the flavour rewards are worth every bit of effort.

Always begin by removing the 'pope's nose' regardless of the cooking procedure to eliminate any impurities.

A great starting point is 'duck a l'orange' (roast duck with orange sauce). Memories of cooking this when I was training at Christina Martin's School of Food and Wine, spring to mind. It has since become one of my all-time favourites; a true classical expression of gourmet French cuisine. I appreciate the citrus flavours that offset the richness of the flesh.

Duck thighs can be confit (cooked in their own fat), on simmer, for three hours. Keep in an airtight container with an inch of duck fat to cover all the meat. This process, used in days gone by, preserves the flesh and the result is a deep, dark meat when oven heated to serve. It is succulently juicy with a crispy skin.

Duck breasts, can be pan seared and cooked in a very hot oven. With all poultry I suggest you place a little water at the base of the pan to maintain as much moisture as possible. This means a combination of poaching and roasting. Internationally, duck breasts are served rare but I find our South African ducks a bit 'chewy', so I tend to serve this dish medium-rare to medium, depending on the quality of the duck.

Off cuts and leftover meat can be used to fill Asian spring rolls made with lots of freshly sliced lemongrass, lemon zest and hand-picked spearmint. This is a taste and texture explosion!

Duck livers can be transformed into a delicious spread served with homemade Melba toast.

Duck fat should be made into 'liquid gold' and kept for when you choose to confit duck thighs. To share a 'secret' tip… At Hartford House we sear our beef fillets in this. The result is a tantalising outer richness and caramelisation.

When you next feel like a dish that is different, interesting and exciting place a duck into your trolley and try these recipes.

(Contact Dargle Ducks on 033 234 4227 for orders.)

Take these recipes and try them.

duck

DUCK A L'ORANGE
DUCK CONFIT
DUCK BREAST
DUCK SPRING ROLLS

I look forward to hearing from you.

Jackie Cameron
Head Chef
Hartford House
www.hartford.co.za
jackie@hartford.co.za
+27 33 263 2713