Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse Hotel
Chef and Owner
Chef, Richard Poynton, owner of multi-award winning hotel, Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse in the KZN Drakensberg talks about his love affair with his Big Green Egg.
How long have you had your Big Green Egg?
I heard someone talking about this outdoor charcoal cooking device that had really precise temperature control and it got my interest up. Shortly after, I saw an ad in a magazine and I ordered one. I can’t resist a new cooking gadget!
Has it lived up to expectations?
Most certainly! It is a brilliant instrument for cooking. The temperature control is phenomenal and it keeps the food you are cooking moist and full of flavour.
What’s your favourite thing to cook?
I’m a big fan of Hogget, which is a sheep between the ages of 1 and 2, so it’s in between lamb and mutton. I have a local butcher who gets me hogget and I love to cook a leg. It’s bigger than a leg of lamb and it has the same fat content as lamb but the meat, if you cook it right, has the most amazing, rich flavour.
How do you cook it?
I first rub the meat with olive oil and then season with anchovies, garlic and fresh rosemary. I’ll grill that on a really high heat (up to 300° C) to colour the meat and get that char-grill flavour. Then I lower the temperature right down and let the Egg do its thing. Every now and then, I throw a bunch of fresh rosemary onto the fire to get the rosemary infused smoke into the meat. By the time the hogget is cooked, you can’t taste any anchovy, there’s just a really savoury, salty flavour that complements the meat perfectly.
Have you experimented with other dishes?
I have cooked pizzas for friends and family which were a hit but I’m more of a meat lover myself so I concentrate on that. Fish is great to cook on the Big Green Egg, as is chicken. The results are so moist and tender as all of the moisture is retained within the dome.
Do you use the Big Green Egg in your restaurant?
Not at the moment, it’s for my own personal use. At the hotel, we have a six or seven course set menu which would be difficult to cook on one Egg. If I were running an à la carte restaurant, it would be feasible to use the Big Green Egg for specific dishes. Guests do show an interest in it, I just had a guest who saw mine and promptly bought his own which he is using every weekend.
How often do you use yours?
As often as time permits. It’s very relaxing to cook outdoors with a good glass of red wine in hand. My son-in-law is a wine maker in the Cape and he’s created a red blend just for me. We have 120 cases which we are selling it in the restaurant under our Copper Pot label but I’ll make sure that I keep enough aside for me to sit and enjoy with my Big Green Egg for some time to come!