Daniel Hill shares his recipe for Green Tea Smoked Beef with Beetroot Mustard and Basil Cream Quenelles

Daniel Hill prepares his award-winning recipe for Green Tea Smoked Silver Fern Farms Reserve Beef from This NZ Life on Vimeo.

The Pitches Store chef shares his award-winning recipe for Green Tea Smoked Silver Fern Farms Reserve Beef with Beetroot Mustard.

Words: Kate Coughlan  Photos: Rachael Hale McKenna  Video: Guy Frederick

Daniel Hill grew up one of 10 children in suburban Toowoomba in a family in which aprons were more commonly of the builders’ variety than the cooking sort and boys weren’t encouraged into the kitchen. However, 13-year-old Daniel roasted a chicken for the family’s Sunday dinner and was hooked. Not on the chicken, which was soggy on the bottom, but hooked on cooking. His father wasn’t pleased. However, after a career including training under Italian Francie Pantano in Sydney and cooking around the globe, Daniel’s father is now much happier with his son’s choice of career.


This is Daniel’s second year cooking at the Pitches Store restaurant in Ophir in the Manuherikia Valley of Central Otago. He came thinking there’d be a beach nearby at which he could spend his downtime surfing. After a few days, asking the way to the beach, he learned he was in New Zealand’s most inland town and the nearest beach was more than two hours away. “I guess I hadn’t done my Googling very well.”

Daniel has come to love the hot, dry, stark environment of Central Otago and says it has inspired his cooking. He’s gone mad for smoking; he smokes everything from butter to onions, tomatoes to beef. He’d probably smoke his granny if he could roll her in brown sugar, pepper and salt and tuck her into a smoker.

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“I love bringing the earthy flavours of the surroundings into my cooking. People of this region are farmers and love their beef and lamb so I design dishes in which the meat is the hero.”

One of his signature dishes, Green Tea Smoked Beef with Beetroot Mustard, won a Silver Fern Farms Premier Selection Award for Best Regional Dish last year (he’s a finalist again in 2016). “It’s so easy to create at home or on a picnic.” There are just a few tricks to bear in mind:

“The choice of meat when smoking is really important. I always use Silver Fern Farms product and it is the best meat, consistently, that I’ve found anywhere in the world – and I’ve cooked all over the world. For this dish I use the Reserve Eye Fillet of Beef.


“Allow meat to come to room temperature before smoking so take it from the refrigerator at least 20 minutes before beginning.

“The cut of meat is also important. A fillet has no bones so the smoke can penetrate uniformly.

“Smokers do not need to be fancy or expensive. I use a standard Mitre 10 smoker.

“Clean the smoker thoroughly every time you use it – it’s very important. Wash down the inside of the lid and the base before lining the smoking tray with fresh foil. Always use fresh wood shavings. This is crucial to get the clean flavour.


“You can use any wood shavings although manuka is the most common. You can also use woody herbs such as rosemary, thyme or even basil. Just make sure it is dry and fresh.

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“I flavour this dish with 100 grams of loose green tea leaves sprinkled over the manuka shavings before lighting. It gives a more intense flavour.

“To caramelize the meat – which normally comes with traditional grilling as the juices run out – roll the fillet in brown sugar, pepper and coarse sea salt, pushing that into the fillet with your hands before placing it on the smoker tray. With meat of this quality, you don’t need marinades.

“Once the meat has been in the smoker for 10 minutes, open the lid and squeeze the meat to determine how cooked it is.  You may have to add more wood shavings, refill the burner and smoke a second time depending on how well done you like the meat to be and how thick the fillet.


“Always let meat stand for at least half as long as the cooking time to allow it to rest– an enhanced pinkness will develop as it stands.

About five minutes before the beef is done to taste, place a small metal tray in the smoker with tomatoes and roasted onions. They aren’t going to be heavily smoked, just blistered and flavour enhanced.”

“Now all you have to do is enjoy it with friends and family. Smoking is fun, and it is easy to create a taste sensation anywhere. People come from miles around for this dish and you can do it at home easily.”

Green Tea Smoked Beef with Beetroot Mustard and Basil Cream Quenelles 


Serves: 4

300g Silver Fern Farms Beef Tenderloin Eye Fillet (1 pack)
20g brown sugar
20g coarse sea salt
pepper, several grinds per side

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To smoke the beef  
Manuka smoker shavings
100g loose green tea
200ml methylated spirits

Beetroot Mustard 
50g Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons beetroot powder

Combine mustard and beetroot powder in the blender until smooth.

Basil Cream Quenelles
I cup cream, thickly whipped
basil, finely chopped (chiffonade)
pinch of salt

Mix salt and basil into the thick cream. Then use two tablespoons to scoop into quenelles.

Ginger Dressing
100ml white vinegar
½ teaspoon grated fresh ginger
½ teaspoon fresh galangal
1 teaspoon finely chopped coriander root
1 teaspoon sugar
Bring to boil, cool and shake.

Plating (divide between 4)
200g watercress
16 smoked cherry tomatoes
8 baby onions, pre-roasted and smoked
2 chioggia beets, finely sliced
1 tablespoon good local olive oil
Edible flowers for decoration


Smear the beetroot mustard on the plate in two thick lines. Place a slice of smoked beef on each. Lay the watercress alongside the beef and tuck four cherry tomatoes and two onions into the watercress. Lay slices of chioggia beets and wild flowers on other side of the plate. Spoon a quenelle of the basil cream onto just one slice of the beef. Sprinkle watercress with a little of the ginger dressing. Drizzle a teaspoon of the olive oil over the slice of beef without the basil cream quenelle. Enjoy.


In Your Backyard: FOOD & FIRE

In Your Backyard: FOOD & FIRE

This article first appeared in In Your Backyard: FOOD & FIRE. 

NZ Life and Leisure This article first appeared in NZ Life & Leisure Magazine.
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