Cape Town - Pasture-raised meat is increasingly in demand, and it’s great to see shops popping up around town where you can find good, healthy meat, free of antibiotics and growth hormones.

Taste of the Karoo in Stellenbosch is the latest shop to offer quality meat.

It was founded in 2009 by Derek Carstens and his son Tyghe. With fond memories of childhood Karoo holidays, Carstens was keen to source and supply town folk with Karoo fare, quality lamb with the distinctive Karoo flavour, along with venison and other products.

The Karoo is also the source of inspiration for Gordon Wright’s Veld to Fork cookbook, subtitled Slow food from the heart of the Karoo (Struik Lifestyle). In it he offers simple recipes for wholesome food. This is food that is best eaten at a gathering of friends and family, and slow food prepared using fresh ingredients. An accomplished cook, among other things (he’s been a banker, a photographer, a sports journalist), Gordon and his wife Rose run a guesthouse and restaurant in Graaff-Reinet.

From Veld to Fork we’ve selected a mutton stew with a herbal twist; spicy knuckles with an interesting parsnip mash; an interesting Christmas savoury and sweet tart (although it will do for any celebration); and a frozen nougat dessert.

Rose’s decadent savoury and sweet tart

Flour, for dusting

Melted butter

Olive oil

1-2 large onions, chopped

Pinch of dried Italian herbs

100g streaky bacon, chopped

100g lardons (thickly cut cubes of bacon)

1 clove garlic, chopped

50g almonds

150g chopped nuts

50g butter

50g cake flour

250ml milk

Salt and lemon pepper

4 eggs, lightly beaten

Green fig preserve (about 5 figs, quartered)

1 wedge of apricot or similar blue cheese

Preheat oven to 180ºC. Sprinkle flour over the base of an ovenproof tart dish and pour in a little melted butter, just enough to leave a thin film on the base.

Heat a little olive oil in a pan and lightly fry the onions and Italian herbs. Remove from the pan and set aside. Using the same pan fry the streaky bacon until crisp. Set aside. Fry the lardons in the same pan until crisp and set aside. Fry the garlic lightly.

Dry roast the almonds and mixed nuts in a clean pan. Chop and roast again lightly. Set aside. Melt the butter and gradually stir in the flour. Cook over low heat for one minute. Gradually add the milk, stirring continuously until the sauce thickens. Season with salt and lemon pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and add the fried onions, bacon, lardons, garlic and nuts. Reserve some nuts to sprinkle on top. Stir in the eggs.

Place the preserved figs randomly over the base of the prepared tart dish and then pour the white sauce mix over the top.

Crumble the cheese on top and sprinkle with the reserved nuts. Bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Slice and serve at room temperature.

Spicy mutton knuckles with garlic parsnip mash

Serves 2 to 4

1 red onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 thumb-sized pieces fresh ginger, finely chopped

3 chillies, chopped (seeds removed if you don’t want too much heat)

2 cardamom pods, cracked

5ml turmeric

10ml mustard seeds

Olive oil

1kg mutton knuckles

250ml chicken stock

1 handful fresh coriander

Salt and ground pepper

Garlic parsnip mash:

8 parsnips, peeled, shopped

1 whole bulb garlic

Knob of butter

Salt and freshly ground pepper


Stew: Sweat off the onion, garlic, ginger chillies and spices in a good glug of olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan, remove from the pan and set aside. Using the same pan brown the meat in batches. Return all the meat and the onion mixture to the saucepan and add the stock. Simmer for 45 minutes.

Mash: Place the parsnips and whole garlic into a saucepan of salted water (enough to cover) and boil for 30 minutes until soft. Remove, drain and allow to steam dry. Squeeze garlic out of cloves on to parsnips, add butter, season to taste and mash until smooth. Scoop mash into ovenproof dish, sprinkle with paprika and add a few more dabs of butter, and place under a preheated oven grill until top is golden.

Minty mutton summer stew

Serves 4-6

2 onions

6 cloves garlic

3 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped

500g mutton neck, cut into pieces

500g mutton flank, cubed

Salt and freshly ground pepper

4 tomatoes, peeled and chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

2 carrots, roughly chopped

8 baby potatoes

1 aubergine, chopped

250ml water or stock

5 golden patty pans

1 handful chopped fresh mint

1 handful fresh spinach

5 florets broccoli

Fry the onions, garlic and thyme in a glug of olive oil in a stovetop-to-oven casserole dish until browned. Remove from the dish and set aside.

Brown the meat in batches, adding seasoning as you go. Return all the meat and the onion mixture to the casserole. Add the tomatoes, celery, carrots, potatoes, aubergine and water.

Cover with the lid and simmer for 1 hour. Add the patty pans and simmer for five minutes, then gently stir in the mint, spinach and broccoli and allow to simmer for another 15 minutes.

Frozen hazelnut nougat

Serves 6 to 8

Caramelised hazelnuts

80g castor sugar

80g hazelnuts


6 egg whites

250g castor sugar

2.5ml vanilla essence

375ml fresh cream

Part 1: To make the caramelised hazelnuts place the sugar in a heavy-based pan and heat. Add the hazelnuts and mix until the nuts are caramelised and the mixture is a beautiful golden colour. Pour onto a heat-resistant surface. Be careful as the mixture is incredibly hot and can easily burn you quite badly. Set aside to cool completely.

Part 2: To make the nougat whisk the egg whites and the castor sugar together in a double boiler. Whisk continuously until the mixture is warm and fluffy. Remove from the heat, add the vanilla and whisk until cool but still fluffy.

Part 3: Roughly crush the caramelised hazelnuts with a meat mallet. Whisk the cream until stiff. Fold the whipped cream and caramelised hazelnuts into the egg white mixture and mix well. Pour into freezerproof containers and freeze overnight. Serve big scoops as is, or add a spoonful of granadilla pulp on top. - Cape Argus