Sonny Bill Williams and Ardie Savea snapped in a rare moment out of the kitchen, and SBW's fish pie (Photos: Getty Images, Kieran Scott/Tamara West)

Learn to cook like the All Blacks

Recipes from the NZ Rugby Stars Cookbook by Ardie Savea, Sonny Bill Williams and Damian McKenzie.

Did you correctly match the rugby stars to their recipes? If so, good. If not, go do it now. Right now, you hear? Read no further. When you’re done, come back here.


Did you do it? Good. Now you are free to carry on without fear of finding out three of the answers and ruining the fun of the quiz.

If you nailed the quiz, celebrate by cooking the following three recipes. If you did poorly, redeem yourself in the eyes of the rugby gods by cooking the following three recipes.

Sonny Bill Williams, a simple family man (check out his Instagram, it will melt even the coldest, darkest of hearts), has shared his recipe for a simple family fish pie. Ardie Savea, who is almost definitely the most fashionable All Black of all time, has chosen the most humble, dependable, old-fashioned recipe there is — a fruit cake. Only someone extremely cool could get away with such a boss move. Sadly, despite being from Gore, Damian McKenzie has not provided a recipe for Southland cheese rolls, but mussel fritters are nice too.

They all feature in the newly released NZ Rugby Stars Cookbook, which is on sale now, with all royalties going to The New Zealand Rugby Foundation (a charity that helps rugby players who have been seriously injured).

Ardie Savea’s fruit cake, very nice with a cup of tea (Photo Kieran Scott/Tamara West)

ARDIE SAVEA’S FRUIT CAKE

Ardie Savea burst onto the national scene in 2012 at just 18 years old, making his first provincial appearance for Wellington. The following year he debuted for the Hurricanes Super Rugby club, as well as playing for the New Zealand U20s side and joining the All Blacks on their year-end tour as a non-playing apprentice. Away from rugby he enjoys fashion, launching his own clothing range in 2017.

SERVES 12

  • 225g butter, softened
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 225g high-grade flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 450g mixed dried fruit

Preheat the oven to 160°C. Line a 23cm square cake tin with non-stick baking paper.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.

Sift the flour and baking powder over the egg mixture, add the ground almonds and gently fold through. Add the dried fruit and gently fold through.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top. Bake for 1-1¼ hours, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin. Once fully cooled, store in an airtight container. It will keep for 2 weeks.

TIP If the mixture curdles when you’re beating in the last egg, beat in 1-2 tablespoons of the measured flour to stabilise the mixture.

After Ardie tried to say his fruit cake was better than Damian’s fritters (Photo: Getty Images)

SONNY BILL WILLIAMS’ SIMPLE FAMILY FISH PIE WITH A PASTRY LID

Sonny Bill Williams has been a national and international champion across rugby, rugby league and boxing. Sonny was a member of the 2011 and 2015 Rugby World Cup-winning All Blacks sides and he also joined the New Zealand Sevens team for the Rio Olympics.

SERVES 4

  • 500ml full-cream milk
  • 1 slice of onion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 parsley stalks (reserve leaves for another use)
  • a few whole black peppercorns
  • 50g butter, plus extra for greasing the dish
  • 3 tablespoons standard flour, plus extra for rolling pastry
  • 600g firm white fish fillets, skinned and boned, cut into 2.5- to 3-cm pieces
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 300g flaky puff pastry
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten (egg wash)
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges, to serve

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Lightly grease a 4-cup-capacity pie dish. Place a pie bird or an upturned ovenproof egg cup in the centre of the dish if you have one.

Pour the milk into a heavy-based saucepan and add the onion slice, bay leaf, parsley stalks and peppercorns. Place over a low heat and let the milk come slowly up to simmering point. Remove from the heat and set aside for 5 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse. Strain into a jug, discarding the solids. Rinse out the saucepan.

Place the butter in the saucepan and melt over a low heat. Increase the heat to medium. Sift in the flour and stir to make a roux, cooking and stirring until lightly golden. Pour the infused milk into the saucepan and stir continuously until the sauce is smooth, shiny and thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Gently stir through the fish, lemon zest and chopped parsley. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to the pie dish.

On a lightly floured bench top, roll out the pastry until 5 mm thick and large enough to cover the top of the pie dish, with a little extra left over. Cut thin strips from the remaining pastry and place them around the edge of the pie dish. Brush with some egg wash.

Place the pastry lid on top of the filled pie dish and press the edges together. Using a sharp knife, make short horizontal cuts along the edges of the pastry. This is called ‘knocking up’ and it helps the pastry form layers that will puff up during baking. Make 2-3 slits in the middle of the pastry top to allow steam to escape during cooking (if not using a pie bird) and brush with remaining egg wash.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the pastry is golden and the filling is bubbling. Serve with lemon wedges for squeezing over.

Damian McKenzie and his fritters (Photos: Kieran Scott/Tamara West)

DAMIAN MCKENZIE’S MUSSEL FRITTERS

Invercargill-born Damian McKenzie debuted for the All Blacks in 2016. He also plays as fullback for the Chiefs Super Rugby club, and has represented New Zealand with the Māori All Blacks and the New Zealand Schools and U20s teams.

SERVES 4

  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 2kg live mussels in the shell, scrubbed and de-bearded
  • 1 shallot, very finely chopped
  • finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon torn basil leaves
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • ½ cup standard flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • oil for shallow-frying
  • bread and butter to serve
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges, to serve

Heat the wine in a large saucepan over a medium-high heat. Add half the mussels and cook for a few minutes, until they just open. Remove to a bowl, and cook the remaining mussels the same way. Discard any that do not open.

Strain the mussels, reserving the cooking liquid. Remove the mussels from their shells, discarding the brown tongues. Set aside to cool.

Place half the mussels in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl. Finely dice the remaining mussels by hand. Place in the bowl with the processed mussels, then add the shallot, lemon zest and herbs.

Lightly whisk together the egg yolks and 2 tablespoons of the reserved cooking liquid. Add to the mussel mixture and stir to combine.

Sift the flour and baking powder together, then stir into the mussel mixture along with the milk and salt and pepper. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form when you lift the beater up. Fold a tablespoonful of egg white into the mussel mixture to loosen it, then carefully fold in the remaining egg white.

Coat the base of a frying pan with oil and heat over a medium-high heat until the oil is hot. Drop tablespoons of the mussel mixture into the pan and cook for 2 minutes on each side, until golden and cooked in the centre. Repeat with the remaining mixture.

Serve with slices of buttered bread and lemon wedges.

TIP Also delicious with your favourite tomato chilli chutney and a green salad.

Republished with permission from NZ Rugby Stars Cookbook, Allen & Unwin, $40


The Spinoff’s food content is brought to you by Freedom Farms. They believe talking about food is nearly as much fun as eating it, and they’re excited to facilitate some good conversations around food provenance in Aotearoa New Zealand.

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