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‘Food plays an important part of your identity’

BORN and bred in Port Elizabeth, Donovan Miller has been a chef lecturer at the local campus of Capsicum Culinary Studio since 2016.

Miller, who attended Triomf Primary, Bethelsdorp High School and Strand Secondary, currently lives in Malabar. Before joining Capsicum, he worked at the New Beach Hotel and also ran his own catering company.

“I’ve always been cooking, creating and entertaining and when the opportunity arose for me to receive formal training I grabbed it with both hands. My love for cooking started at the age of 11.

“I grew up in a household of three boys and my mom pulled me aside to show me how to make the basics. The bug bit and I have loved everything culinary ever since,” Miller said.

Reflecting on Heritage Day and what it means to him, Miller said he would be spending a day off with the family, probably preparing a special lunch or have a braai.

Asked what the day means to him, he said, “It reminds me of the way we grew up and all the nostalgic moments and traditions we shared as a family and as children.”

Miller’s perfect Heritage Day meal is a good English curry served on samp accompanied by sweet potatoes, sugar beans (sous boontjies), cauliflower and corn.

“I will share it with my family – especially my brothers and cousins, as this is the food I remember and that I long for.”

His favourite South African dishes? Koeksisters, braai and pap, and a good knuckle or oxtail potjie cooked over the coals.

“As a South African person of colour, it is very difficult to establish or pin down an exact heritage, but I think that your heritage is also how you were raised and the journey you have travelled through life that makes you who you are.

“Food certainly plays a part in your identity and who you are as a person,” he concluded.

CHEF lecturer at Capsicum Culinary Studio’s Port Elizabeth campus, Donovan Miller, shared the recipe for one of his favourite dishes – a kudu fillet served on polenta with grilled cabbage, glazed carrots and a chakalaka jus.

Kudu fillet on polenta

For this particular recipe, Miller said that chefs will need to make a fire and create a charcoal braai.

Ingredients

For the fillet

200g kudu fillet

15ml oil

Salt and pepper to taste

For the grilled cabbage

1 cabbage cut into quarters (keep the core intact)

100ml sweet potato puree

100ml cauliflower puree

Olive oil for drizzling

50ml balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper to taste

For the sauce

1 onion, sliced

2 tomatoes, peeled and diced

¼ each red, green, yellow pepper

2ml dried mixed herbs

2ml salt

2ml sugar

Cracked black pepper to taste

80ml red wine

For the glazed carrots

50g baby rainbow carrots (blanched)

10g sugar

10ml water

Method

For the fillet

  • Heat a flat pan on the fire until the pan smokes, lightly brush the fillet with oil and season.
  • Sear the fillet on the presentation side first for approximately five minutes. Turn and cook on the other side for a further three minutes.
  • Remove fillet from the pan, and place fillet on the grid for another two minutes, flipping only once, so that the meat develops a smoky flavour.
  • Rest the fillet to release the juices and set aside.

For the grilled cabbage

  • Brush the cabbage with some oil and add seasoning.
  • Place directly onto the grill to char one side for 10 minutes. Repeat on the other side.
  • Remove and transfer to a roasting pan.
  • Pipe the purees, one flavour at a time, between the layers of cabbage leaves until filled.
  • Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, cover with foil and return the pan to the heat and cook until soft (+/- 30 minutes).
  • To make the purees: steam the cauliflower and sweet potato until tender.
  • Season and transfer each to a food processor or stick blender jug and process separately until you have a smooth pipeable paste.

For the sauce

  • Bring the pan back onto the heat and sweat the onions
  • Add the peppers and sauté until softened.
  • Add the tomatoes with the rest of the seasoning and cook uncovered, stirring to loosen the vegetables from the pan.
  • When the tomato and onion mix is caramelised, deglaze with the red wine and cook until reduced by half.
  • Cover and simmer for a further 15 minutes (topping up with water/veg stock if needed).
  • Blend in a food processor until completely smooth. Thin out the sauce if needed and strain.

For the glazed carrots

  • Place the sugar and water in a saucepan and reduce until slightly thickened, place the blanched carrots in the liquid and toss to coat; continue cooking until the carrots are well coated and have a nice gloss to them.
  • Prepare polenta as per packaged instructions or any other grain of choice.
  • Spoon your polenta onto your plate in a mound, place prepared fillet on top, serve with stuffed cabbage and glazed carrots and drizzle sauce over the fillet.

To hone your cooking skills even further, think about Capsicum Culinary Studios’ internationally recognised and accredited Chef 101 course which you can do from the comfort of your own home.

Chef 101 includes 20 cooking courses. For more info go to www.capsicumcooking.com.

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