Kyle Street's Hangi Pit Masters Challenge
Kyle Street takes on a very New Zealand food challenge
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 where we were asked to do a dish from the hāngī for upwards of 600 people.
Te Mana mutton hot from the the hāngī
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.
Jordan MacDonald and Kyle Street talk celeriac in the Culprit kitchen in the run-up to Hāngī Pit Masters
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 Te Mana Mutton sandwich is taste-tested and judged highly