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Lambtastic - bring on Australia Day

Lambtastic - bring on Australia Day

Sarah Green
21 January 2011

I have to say the latest instalment from Sam Kekovich is ‘lambtastic’. What a clever way to get people talking and therefore thinking about lamb a lot. It is certainly working as my kids want lamb every second night.

Australia Day looms and I have hundreds of lamb recipes but three real favourites.

The first is simply lamb loin chops with mashed potato and veggies. It was a childhood favourite and funnily enough it was my first pregnancy craving, after years of pretty much no meat and salad nicoise being my staple dinner.

I suggest here to add a fabulous relish or chutney for a slightly more grown up taste. Here is my favourite – a fig relish.

Fig relish

You’ll need:
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 small chilli, halved, seeded and chopped
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 750g dried figs, chopped
  • 170g sugar
  • 1 cup tawny port
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • Sea salt
Then you:
  1. Combine oil, onion, garlic and chilli in a saucepan and fry for two minutes.
  2. Add cinnamon sticks, figs, sugar, port and lemon juice and simmer for approximately 25 minutes.
  3. Stir frequently!!!!! The figs need to be very soft so you may need to add a bit of water (around ½ a cup) to stop chutney sticking.
  4. Pour into sterilised jars. The relish will keep for weeks, even months (if you can stop eating it that is!).
Second, lamb back straps on the BBQ with my couscous salad (perfect and easy for your Australia Day lunch party).

Yes, I have ‘done’ this salad before but seriously it is the perfect accompaniment and a crowd pleaser, as well as the fact it can be made the day before. And serve the fig relish here too!
Also serve with a green salad, a glass of sparking shiraz or a pinot.

Couscous salad

You’ll need:

  • ½ packet of couscous
  • ½ cup of flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • ½ cup slivered almonds toasted (or roasted cashews)
  • ½ cup currants
  • ½ cup chickpeas, cooked or tinned
  • 1 leek, finely chopped and fried (or onion)
  • 1 red capsicum, cut into strips and cooked
  • 1 tablespoon of grated ginger
  • Two to three tablespoons of olive oil
Then you:
  1. Cover couscous with boiling water and whisk till water is absorbed, and cool.
  2. Add all other ingredients and combine. This salad keeps really well.

Third and finally – Shepherd’s Pie. Mine is pretty yummy and was often on my catering menus in miniature. I would to fail to divulge the ingredients as many horrified women couldn’t cope with the truth (little bit of butter really won’t hurt you)!

Shepherd’s pie

You’ll need:
  • 1 small leg of lamb, cooked with a sprinkle of sea salt and studded with sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely sliced and cooked
  • 2/3 tablespoon of tomato paste
  • ½ to 1 cup chicken stock
  • ½ cup red wine – optional
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
Then you:
  1. When the lamb has cooled a bit, remove the meat from the bone including the fat! This does give the dish a bit more depth and makes it seriously delicious.
  2. In batches, place the meat in a food processor and mince.
  3. Place in a mixing bowl and add the cooked onions, tomato paste, red wine and Worcestershire sauce.
  4. Next add the chicken stock slowly so the mix is moist but not ‘sloppy’. Just add as much as you require, which will depend on how much moisture is in the lamb.
  5. Use either miniature ramekins for a cocktail party or a single serve ramekin for a dinner.
  6. Fill the ramekin about ¾ full with lamb and top with creamy mash potato and a dollop of butter.
  7. Place the ramekins on a baking tray and place in a 180 degree oven and cook till the mash is golden and the pie is bubbling up the sides.
  8. Serve with a sprig of rosemary and a huge green garden salad. Oh and of course a glass of Shiraz.

Creamy mash

You’ll need:
  • 1 kg desiree potoaoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup cream
  • 200 gms butter, 150 for mash and 50 for tops of pies
Then you:
  1. Place the potatoes on a saucepan and cover with cold salted water.
  2. Bring to boil and cook till tender approximately 15 minutes.
  3. Drain the water and add the cream and butter and mash till creamy.
A fitting dessert for our Summery Australia Day, and to finish off the meal, I can’t seem to go past another childhood favourite – raspberries. I grew up with a big garden and rows of raspberry canes. And this is the time of the year they are at their best.

Raspberries, sprinkled with castor sugar with lashings of cream, runny or thick is perfect.

And then charge your glasses with some sparkling and toast our wonderful life in Australia!

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