hāngī master

Kyle Street takes on a very New Zealand food chal­lenge

The New Zealand Herald - Bite - - Food For Thought -

Al­though I’ve only ex­pe­ri­enced hāngī a hand­ful of times in my life, the oc­ca­sion and flavour have stuck with me. The first was as part of a school trip, where we stayed overnight on the marae, were em­braced and gra­ciously cooked a killer hāngī din­ner of kumāra, pump­kin, potato and lamb: it was su­per-tra­di­tional and darned de­li­cious. The other was in Lon­don (of all places) in the back yard of a long-since gone Kiwi ex­pat haunt, the Red­back Tav­ern. One Sun­day a month they would put a hāngī down and Ki­wis would flock from miles around.

Hāngī for me has al­ways been about com­mu­nity, hos­pi­tal­ity, gen­eros­ity and tra­di­tion. It’s a cook­ing method that re­quires prepa­ra­tion, pa­tience and pas­sion. It’s much eas­ier in this day in age to rely on our mod­ern con­ve­niences, but they won’t re­ally cut the mus­tard when you have hun­dreds of mouths to feed.

That was the chal­lenge thrown down by Taste Of Auck­land last year where we were asked to do a dish from the hāngī for up­wards of 600 peo­ple.

Rewi Sprag­gon (oth­er­wise known as the Hāngī Master) would be on pit duty and we would col­lab­o­rate on an idea for a dish. We wanted to be mind­ful of tra­di­tion so we chose mut­ton as our hero. We called on our friends at Te Mana Lamb and they ar­ranged for some older sheep to be kept aside for us — in the end we needed seven whole mut­ton to feed the masses. Root veg is also some­thing that is quintessen­tially hāngī, I think it has to do with their in­her­ent earthy char­ac­ter­is­tics lend­ing them­selves to be­ing in­ten­si­fied by the method of hāngī. We chose cele­riac, some­thing I’d never heard of be­ing used in a hāngī, but a root veg we love roasted whole where it takes on a much more dis­tinct and unique flavour. The cele­riac was blended in to a hum­mus to serve on the Te Mana Mut­ton Rolls we served; it makes a great ac­com­pa­ni­ment for any roast or braised lamb.

Cele­riac hum­mus

1 cele­riac

1 Tbsp ras el hanout 1 tsp sea salt flakes 1 Tbsp olive oil

2 tsp tahini paste

Juice of ½ lemon 4 Tbsp olive oil (not ex­tra vir­gin)

½ tsp ras el hanout

1 Wash the cele­riac well espe­cially near the feath­ery root. Rub with the first mea­sure of ras el hanout, salt and oil and wrap tightly with foil. Bake at 180C for 1-2 hours, with a deep tray of wa­ter in the oven to add steam and mois­ture. This re­sem­bles the hāngī, where the food is wrapped and cooked in a hot, damp en­vi­ron­ment. The cele­riac is ready when a knife goes through very eas­ily. 2 Chop the cooked cele­riac, skin and all, and weigh it. Add 200g of the cele­riac flesh to a blender (the quan­ti­ties of the other listed in­gre­di­ents work best with 200g), along with any liq­uids that are in the foil bag. Add the tahini paste, lemon juice, olive oil and sec­ond mea­sure of ras el hanout, and blend un­til very smooth. If it’s a lit­tle thick, add a lit­tle more olive oil. Re-sea­son, and serve warm or at room tem­per­a­ture. Hāngī Pit Masters airs on Māori TV at 7.30pm Wed­nes­days and on de­mand via the Māori TV web­site.

From left; Jor­dan MacDon­ald and Kyle Street talk cele­riac in the Cul­prit kitchen in the run-up to Hāngī Pit Masters; Te Mana mut­ton hot from the the hāngī; The Te Mana Mut­ton sand­wich is taste-tested

and judged highly.

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