The star chef tells us what he loves about wild meat recipes. 

 

PHOTOS STILLS: OLIVER SCHWARZWALD PORTAIT OF JOHANN LAFER:

JOERG LEHMANN COPY: NICOLE KLEINFELD STYLING: KIRSTEN SCHMIDT

A piece of home

Johann Lafer reminisces about his favourite childhood recipes: On a culinary trip
down memory lane through Styria, he reveals his favourite wild meat recipes!

Johann Lafer

Johann Lafer, born in 1957 in Graz, Austria, is a multiple award winning Michelin starred chef, hotelier, gourmet ambassador for Styria, best-selling author and television celebrity regularly appearing on various programmes, including Lafer! Lichter! Lecker! The son of a farming family and now father of two, he also dedicates time to promoting sustainable meals in schools, lecturing on culinary arts and food culture, marketing his own delicatessen range and what’s more is a passionate helicopter pilot.

Welcome to the Stromburg

The medieval estate has been transformed into a top gourmet address under the management of Johann Lafer and his wife Silvia. The restaurant “Le Val d’Or”, a Michelin star holder and a member of the exquisite Relais & Châteaux Hotels association, invites you to experience cuisine of the very highest level.

Visit www.lafer.de/die-stromburg

An exceptional talent

Johann Lafer already ranked among the best in his field early on in his career. At the Graz trade fair he is able to proudly present the culinary skills he leant at the vocational school.

Home roots

Lafer, who is now a Culinary Ambassador of Austria, already leant how to cook at an early age from his mother. His childhood memories are inevitably linked to the scents of traditional local food specialities from the Province of Styria, which still make his gourmet's heart beat faster today. Together with his mother he enjoys savoury delicacies in the family's rural home in St. Stefan.

A country outing

What the restaurateur particularly appreciates about rural life is the high standard of local products, which are natural specialities of the highest quality. That’s why he likes to visit farmers and winegrowers from the region, embarking on a culinary journey of discovery through the scenic landscape of his beloved Styria.

www.steiermark.com

Johann Lafer - My Home Kitchen

Rustic, authentic and full of love for his native cuisine and its regional specialities. In this book, star chef Johann Lafer not only reveals his favourite delicious recipes, there is also a lot of interesting information about the Province of Styria, garnished with stories, anecdotes and personal insights into the joys of country life. Gräfe & Unzer, EUR 24.95.

www.lafer.de/shop

Table talk

Celebrity chef and gourmet ambassador Johann Lafer gives us an exclusive glimpse of his culinary roots
and the preparation of traditional game dishes.

A new take on a classic game dish: Served with a blackberry and orange vinaigrette on salad leaves, the tender saddle of wild hare is given a fruity twist. The crockery also features a modern country house flair: Farmhouse Touch Blueflowers from EUR 9.00.

You learned to cook from your mother. What was the first game dish you could make?
Even as a small boy, my mother always let me help her in the kitchen. Unlike my sister, I absolutely loved it! I can still remember the first game dish we made together – I can even recall the smell that floated through the entire house. It was a spicy venison goulash with dumplings and home-pickled lingonberries.

Which dish were you served as a child for your birthday?
If I had been exceptionally good throughout the year, we got delicious schnitzel made with home-reared pork, served with potato and gherkin salad drizzled with pumpkin seed oil.

What did you eat at Christmas?
On Christmas Day, we usually started with smoked trout and lamb’s lettuce or a hearty beef soup. To follow, we had a whole Sulmtaler chicken with cabbage. And for dessert, one of my mother’s famous puddings. Of course, we also had a never-ending supply of Christmas baking to get us through the festive period, especially the traditional Spagarkrapfen.

Do you prefer classic accompaniments for game dishes, or do you go for something more exotic?
When it comes to game, my tastes tend towards the classic choices, such as pear stuffed with lingonberries; bread, poppy seed or walnut dumplings; Brussels sprouts; or red cabbage. But now, there are a variety of ways and modern techniques to prepare them. My favourite accompaniment at the moment is baked red cabbage dumplings.

Which mushrooms did you eat at home, and what were they served with?

We always picked our own mushrooms, such as porcini, chanterelles and the like. Our favourite dish was a mushroom goulash with bread dumplings and lots of whipped cream. In autumn, we often ate baked porcini mushrooms with a delicious tartare sauce and lettuce. Another classic was the famous Jägerschnitzel.

How does one prepare fresh, healthy game dishes?
What does one need to look for when buying the meat, for example? Game is a complete matter of trust. It is best to go to a game butcher you know, who is also passionate about his own products. Game should be matured for a sufficient time, and it shouldn’t come from old animals. Game is also generally served pink, so it should be cooked at a very low temperature (120° C). With stews, the meat should first be thoroughly seared and infused in a strong red wine with lots of spices before slowly cooking in a casserole in the oven to make the meat succulent and tender.

Which spices do you use and can you let us in on any special tips for cooking game?
To marinate game, I love using a mixture of pimento, coriander seeds, juniper, brown sugar, lemon peel and coarse sea salt. When roasting, in addition to the cooking fat, indispensable ingredients are thyme, rosemary, red onion in the skin and crushed juniper berries. In order to get the best from venison saddle, for instance, I carefully loosen the two saddle fillets from the bone, arrange orange peel, thyme, rosemary and coarsely ground pepper on the bones, replace the fillets and lay thin slices of bacon on top, which I tie with string. Next, I pan fry the venison in hot clarified butter until crisp and then pop it in the oven to bake at 120° C. This keeps the meat beautifully succulent and retains its mouth-watering flavour.

Home country setting: The Province of Styria is a paradise for mushroom pickers. Johann Lafer’s recipes for game inspire those who love the treasures from the forest far beyond the borders of his home country. The stage is set for “Mushrooms à la Crème” on the timeless elegant design of Audun crockery, from EUR 13.90.

Recipes for hunters and gatherers

Wild table delight

Lafer dishes up

For the Sunday roast
"Audun"

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Rustic charm
"Farmhouse Touch & Blueflowers"

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An elegant table companion:

"Kreuzband Septfontaines"

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