Its been a really busy day in camp. The Manawatu Caravan Club committee had organised a hangi for our dinner and we have been watching the preparations continue all day. A hangi is a traditional New Zealand Maori method of cooking food. To "put down a hangi" involves digging a pit in the ground, heating stones, or in this case heating large pieces of iron in the pit with a large fire, placing baskets of food on top of the stones, and covering everything with sacks and earth for several hours before uncovering (or lifting) the hangi.
It was a hive of activity in the camp kitchen as committee members peeled and prepared potatoes, kumara, and pumpkin.
While on a picnic table outside two more helpers were chopping up onions for the stuffing. Stuffing? I didn’t know stuffing went into a hangi. But why not – it’s sure to be delicious, (and it was).
Then we walked to the back of the camp to the kids playground to see how the fire was coming along. It was certainly blazing well with plenty of heat coming off. The timber burns down to embers to heat the pieces of iron.
The next step was to line the food baskets with cabbage leaves, before placing the meat inside. These hangi masters don’t like to use tin foil, they said, it’s got to be cabbage leaves for them. Poor little hogget Snowflake gave up her life to feed the multitude. She was donated by one of the members who run a few sheep on his life-style block. Three delicious looking rolled and boned pork loins joined Snowflake, now reduced to tasty joints, together with a dozen chooks in the baskets. A veritable feast!
We were a bit late to see everything placed into the pit and get covered with wet sacks. The vegetables were packed in a covering of cheese-cloth, as was the large amount of stuffing. By the time we walked back the blokes were covering it all over with earth, and patting it down. This keeps the heat in. We were asked to make sure there were no holes for the steam to escape, and it all looked fine.
We gathered with our chairs and tables out under the trees, waiting till the earth was removed to reveal the tasty food inside. Men wielding sharp knives soon made short work of cutting up the pork, poor little Snowflake, and the chickens. Then it was time to fill our plates and tuck in.
Our verdict? Absolutely delicious! The meat was so tender it just fell to pieces, and the stuffing was divine. It was a great day’s entertainment seeing it all evolve, and it was lovely for everyone to sit and eat their meal together. Many thanks to the committee and Juno for organising the hangi, and as casual campers we were so pleased to be able to join in too.