Chef and actor Sam Mannering is now based in Auckland and is the executive chef and owner of Pah Homestead restaurant. Growing up in the country on the outskirts of Christchurch, he spent his formative years in Canterbury and at 31 years old is already the author of three cookbooks: Food Worth Making; A Year’s Worth: Recipes from the Dunsandel Store; and Everyday Strength: Recipes and Wellbeing Tips for Cancer Patients. In September he will release Food Worth Making, Volume 2.
Since 2015 he has been a weekly food columnist for the Sunday Star Times and he contributes regularly to a number of magazines. To top it all off he makes regular appearances on Newstalk ZB, Radio Live, Three’s The Cafe and TVNZ’s Whanau Living.
What would you say are the most important attributes to have for a young person keen to get involved in the food industry?
Perseverance, some business sense and courage! I often think it would be easier to go and work for someone else – especially when you’ve got 20 or so employees on the payroll, rent to pay and endless liabilities. However, I love doing what I do, on my own terms.
Food is very exposing and subjective, so, if you think it’s going to work, just go with it. Take a risk; it’s sure to pay off!
You talk a lot about having dual careers. Are there aspects to acting and working as a chef that overlap?
Oh, god, yes – I cut my teeth on the Good Morning Show! Having an acting background made it a natural progression, and it was more than serendipitous, even a bit hilarious.
Unlike a lot of chefs I don’t mind being in front of the camera, or in front of a class teaching a food course; it feels totally natural.
Acting is still one of my major passions, but it’s hard to do both. I kept getting offered acting jobs but couldn’t commit the time to them, while running a restaurant as well. Hospitality is tough and it gets harder to maintain the ‘cutting edge’, so you’ve got to keep your finger on the pulse!
What do you miss about Canterbury and how has your Canterbury childhood influenced your cooking?
Canterbury has its own recipe. It’s very English and has distinct flavours; it’s so seasonal. Every region of New Zealand differs and has its own inherent qualities, but you can’t go past Canterbury for hazelnuts, quinces, lamb or mushrooms. Now that I’m on the outside, I can enjoy looking in!
You take food for granted when you live amongst the best flavours, but you can’t get that same quality anywhere else.
How has your philosophy about food changed since you opened Pah Homestead?
My approach to food has always been very much about simplicity. It’s not about intimidating people into thinking food is difficult to prepare, and I’ve got a serious hatred of food snobbery. It’s about having as many ideas as possible accessible to your average home cook.
Since having a restaurant, I appreciate produce more and the effort it takes to get food from paddock to plate. Produce is always changing and the seasons are too. One of the greatest tragedies is losing sight of what’s in season. I wouldn’t dream of having truffles in spring, for instance; it would be desensitising – a real tragedy! Working in a seasonal way has helped me enhance what I felt already, and consolidate in stone some of my own food philosophies.
[ WORDS Georgi Waddy, IMAGES Sam Mannering and Jason Creaghan ]
Beef Cheek Pie with Red Wine, Parsnip & Hot Water Pastry
PREP TIME 40 minutes
COOK TIME 4 hours
HOT WATER PASTRY
2 tsp sea salt
220 g butter
260 ml water
480 g strong white flour
1 tbsp butter, to grease the pan
1 egg, lightly beaten, to brush the pastry
Combine the salt, half of the butter and the water together in a small saucepan over a moderate heat, until the butter has melted into the water. In the meantime, pulse the remaining 110 g of butter with the flour in a food processor until well combined and the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Gradually pour the melted butter and water mixture into the flour, pulsing as you go, until you are left with a smooth, soft ball of dough. Taste a wee bit of it to see if you need to add any more salt; there is nothing worse than under seasoned pastry. Remove from the food processor, wrap up tightly with cling film, and leave to rest in the fridge for at least an hour.
500 g small red onions,
peeled and quartered
a few small sprigs of rosemary
1 kg beef cheeks, cut into 3cm chunks
salt and pepper
2 tbsp plain flour
250 ml red wine
300 ml good beef stock
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 bay leaf
4 small parsnips, washed and ends removed
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Get a heavy lidded casserole, Dutch oven or similar going over a medium heat. Add about a tablespoon of olive oil, let it heat up, and then add the quartered red onion and the rosemary. Let it fry away for several minutes until the onion is starting to soften and caramelise. Remove from the heat.
In the meantime, season the pieces of beef cheek well with salt and pepper, and then dust with flour to coat. Get a large frying pan going over a medium heat, add a little olive oil, and then fry the floured beef quickly in batches, just to brown the outside. Remember not to crowd the pan, as your beef won’t brown. Transfer the browned beef to the casserole. Add the red wine, stock, red wine vinegar and the bay leaf, pop on the lid and leave to cook quietly in the preheated oven for at least 3 hours, until the meat is meltingly tender and the liquid has reduced down and thickened.
In the last hour of cooking, quarter the parsnips lengthways and then halve. Scatter over an oiled roasting tray, season well and pop into the oven as well, until they are a bit caramelised and just tender.
Once the meat is cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool down a little before folding in the cooked parsnip.
Take a large cast-iron frying pan or pie dish of about 30 cm in diameter and grease well with butter. Remove the pastry from the fridge and, on a floured surface, roll two-thirds of it out to a thickness of about half a centimetre. Use to line the base of the greased pan. Trim the edges with about 3 cm of overlap over the sides.
Spoon the beef mixture into the lined pan, and smooth off the surface.
Roll out the remaining third of pastry to the same thickness of half a centimetre and carefully place over the top of the pie to form a lid. Trim the edges and twist and crimp them together all the way around. Cut some holes in the top to allow steam to escape and decorate the top in a criss-cross fashion. Brush the surface with beaten egg. Bake for about 35-40 minutes in the preheated oven, until the top is a beautiful golden brown. Remove and allow to cool for several minutes before serving.
Smoked Pork Hock, Chicken Liver & Parsley Terrine
PREP TIME 35 minutes
COOK TIME 3.5 hours, plus overnight chilling
33 smoked bacon hocks
sprig of rosemary
several bay leaves
1 stick of cinnamon
5 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3 eggs, lightly beaten
large handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
500 g pork mince
salt and pepper
400 g chicken livers, trimmed and cut into 2-3cm chunks
160-200 g prosciutto
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Lay the bacon hocks out in a metal roasting dish. Add enough hot water to come halfway up the sides of the meat and add the rosemary, bay leaves and cinnamon.
Roast the hocks for about an hour. Remove from the oven and let them cool down until they are cool enough to handle. Reserve any remaining liquid from the bottom of the pan and strain into a small saucepan. Strip all the meat off the hocks. Cut the larger pieces into manageable bits.
Reduce the temperature of the oven to 160°C.
Gently fry the garlic over a medium heat until it is soft and fragrant. Combine the beaten egg with the parsley, pork mince, garlic and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper. Fry off a little of this mixture to see if you need to add any more salt, and adjust accordingly; then fold in the chicken livers and bacon hock meat. Make sure you don’t crush the livers up too much as you mix everything together.
Grease and line a loaf tin (mine is
6 x 11 cm) with baking paper, and then line it with the prosciutto, making sure that there is a bit of overlap, and that the pieces hang over the side by at least an inch. Save at least one piece of prosciutto for the bottom of the terrine.
Firmly pack in the pork mixture, making sure that you fill the corners, until you nearly reach the top of the loaf tin. If you are left with a little extra, save it for a ragù or something. Fold the overhanging prosciutto neatly over the top, and place the remaining two pieces over the top.
Place a piece of baking paper over the top and fold it neatly over, followed by two layers of tin foil. Tightly scrunch the edges in so that it is all nice and secure.
Place the terrine in the middle of a metal roasting dish and top up with hot water so that it comes halfway up the side of the loaf tin. Place in the oven to bake for 1½ – 2 hours, topping the tray up with water when necessary. Towards the 1½ hour mark, lift off the tin foil and insert a knife into the centre of the terrine; when the juices are clear, not red, it is done. It may need a full 2 hours. Once done, remove from the oven and allow to cool. Weigh the top down with something heavy (a wooden board, cast iron pan, tins of food are all ideal) and pop in the fridge to set overnight.
When you want to serve the terrine, remove from the fridge. Run a knife down the sides of the tin and dip the tin halfway into some hot water for a minute – this will help get it out of the tin. Serve inverse on a platter or board with toasted good bread, cornichons, chutney or pickle and some decent butter. This will last in the fridge for up to four days.
Pork, Coriander & Water Chestnut Dumplings
350 g pork mince
1 tsp corn flour
2 tbsp ginger, finely chopped
handful of garlic chives, finely chopped
handful of coriander, finely chopped
3 tbsp water chestnuts, finely chopped
1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
1 tbsp light soy sauce
40 dumpling wrappers
80 ml Chinkiang (black Chinese) vinegar
60 ml light soy sauce
2 tbsp ginger
2 tsp Chinese chilli paste
1 tsp sesame oil
Combine everything except for the wrappers in a bowl and season generously. Fry off a little of the mixture in a pan and taste to see if you need to add any extra seasoning or not.
Get a heaped teaspoon of the mixture and place in the centre of a dumpling wrapper. Dab a little water around the edges and fold over to make a semicircle, pressing down firmly so that no air is trapped inside the dumpling. Seal the edges, pleat with a couple of pinches and place on a tray dusted with flour. Repeat until you are out of mixture.
Bring a large pot of water to a gentle boil. Drop the dumplings into the boiling water in batches, moving them gently around to prevent them from sticking together. As the water returns to the boil after you have put them in, add a cup of cold water. Once the water has come back to the boil again, the dumplings are ready. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on an oiled plate to stop them from sticking. Combine all of the dipping sauce ingredients together in a small bowl and serve alongside the dumplings.
Date & Walnut Shortbread
PREP TIME 10 minutes
COOK TIME 40 minutes
SERVES Depends how greedy you are, but I would say 8-10
200 g soft butter
220 g castor sugar
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp vanilla essence
350 g flour
1 tsp baking powder
200 g chopped dates
1 tbsp brown sugar
60 g desiccated coconut
100 g walnuts
zest of another lemon
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease and line a slice tin (mine is 32 x 20 cm) with baking paper.
Start with the base. Beat together the butter, castor sugar, zest and juice in mixer until light and fluffy. Sift in flour and baking powder and fold in to create a soft dough. Press this mixture into the lined tin and set aside for a minute.
In a saucepan, combine the chopped dates with the brown sugar and
100 ml of water, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and allow to cook slowly for several minutes until the dates have softened into a smooth-ish paste. Remove from the heat and stir in the coconut. Carefully pour evenly over the top and smooth it off. Sprinkle over the walnuts, pop in the oven and bake for about 25-30 minutes, until it is lightly golden brown, but take care not to let it get too brown on top. As it cools, zest over the lemon; then allow to cool completely before cutting. This will last well in a tin for up to a week.