After several attempts to make the best chicken in town which turned out crummy instead of crumbed, I accepted defeat and asked Mike Forbes, owner of the Brasserie in Forest Glade House, if he would tell me how it was made.
“Why don’t you come and watch it being prepared?” he said. And that’s how I met Stéfan Marais, a food consultant and private chef, in the restaurant’s kitchen presided over by Shihaam Mentor.
When Stéfan talked me through the ingredients it became obvious why my peppered chicken never matched his Chicken au Poivre. For starters the chickens come from a good free range farm. The pepper corns are not the hard sort we use in our pepper mill, but soft green ones from Madagascar. Even the bread crumbs are special – Japanese “Panko” – which, being coarser than the local variety, impart an extra crispiness to the chicken.
He showed me how the chicken breasts were butterflied to create large, thin pieces which were dusted in seasoned flour, dipped in milk, coated in breadcrumbs and shallow fried in sunflower oil.
Like all chefs, the sauce is the big thing and Stéfan was kind enough to reveal the secret. It involved frying the drained peppercorns in butter in a deep pot on medium heat for three minutes, then flaming them in brandy… “but be careful here as the brandy will shoot out in a large flame when going into the hot pot”.
The finishing touches came when the alcohol was burnt off the brandy, chicken stock added and brought to the boil, some cream simmered slowly to reduce the volume by about a third and the sauce tasted to adjust the seasoning. Mmmm, absolutely delicious.
If anybody would like Stéfan’s Chicken au Poivre recipe for four portions with extra sauce, drop me an email and I will gladly forward it. Serve the crumbed chicken on top of mashed potatoes surrounded by the sauce and roast veggies and you’ll have a meal fit for a king. However, I think I’ll take the lazy route and simply pop up the road to the restaurant to enjoy their chicken which is so delicious and reasonably priced too.
Sorry. Seems I slipped up not telling readers how the black jacket with money and a bank card ended up in the middle of Cornuta Avenue. The owner had been off-loading his bakkie and had slung his jacket over his vehicle and driven off without it. The wind did the rest.
I can relate to that. I still feel ashamed of my carelessness at losing an original watercolour in similar fashion. It was a wedding gift from the artist and photographer Graham Young who featured strongly in Frank Wightman’s two classic sailing books The Wind is Free and My Way Leads me Seaward as well as in Lawrence Green’s biography A Giant in Hiding.
Green describes Wightman “as a very small man of brilliant intellect” who, after several epic voyages in his little yawl Wylo – usually with Graham Young – spent 20 years as a hermit alone on his yacht in Langebaan’s Kraal
In 1969 Young, then living in the StatesAmerica as a photographer, film-maker and portrait artist, heard of Frank’s failing health from emphysema and decided to visit his old sailing mate before it was too late.
Somehow Graham squeezed his long legs into my tiny Mini to drive to Langebaan to surprise Frank who was his living in a single room in one of the old buildings of historic Oostewal on the lagoon opposite his beloved Kraal Bay.
When the car was returned, I found an amusing “thank you” letter inside purporting to have been written by my Mini describing how shocked and delighted Frank had been when he stepped outside to empty his tea pot and found his old mate standing there.
They had not seen each other for years and had stopped corresponding.
I wrote to Graham over Frank’s death in 1970 and he, on hearing that I had happily remarried in 2001, sent us a charming watercolour of Wylo sailing. While packing the car to take it to Langebaan, I temporarily placed the painting on the roof and forgot about it…
Unlike the black jacket in Cornuta Avenue, my painting, alas, never found its way home.
It takes a lot of guts to rise again after failing so that’s why we at Run Walk For Life Constantia are immensely proud of our young road leader Tersius Ripsold. He took part recently in the Cape Town Festival of Running 100km Ultra Marathon and finished in a time of 10 hours 45 minutes.
I asked his mother what he had thought about during those long 10 hours and she said that in the last hour he had been so tired and confused that he thought about everything!
What made Tersius’s achievement special was that it came after he did not complete the Two Ocean Marathon at Easter. However, he picked himself up, trained hard and completed almost double the distance of the 56km Ultra. He has every reason to be proud of himself.
Rains bring delight
Driving past Die Oog in Bergvliet last week, I was delighted to see that the good rains in early July had been enough to bring back the coots and an Egyptian goose to the water with five or six goslings swimming behind her.
The dam is by no means full but it has lost that terribly forlorn look when the island was surrounded by dry land and the coots and geese had abandoned this lovely quiet place.
Santa Claus had the right idea. Visit people only once a year – Victor Borge.