New-season treats

Bevan Smith
Bevan Smith

Chef Bevan Smith shares some delicious recipes celebrating new season lamb.

It's November already and the countryside is lush and green with growth.

It's also a special time of year because the first new season lamb is now available. What better time than to grab a swag of herbs, swing by the butcher and get stuck in!

Ground lamb is hugely popular throughout the Middle East for one simple reason. It's crazy delicious! Variations are rife, so go with your taste buds and what you have on hand.

Make your own hummus, as it's fresher, way cheaper and more importantly, so you never run out!

For lamb in a hurry, seared back strap is the answer and served with cauliflower rice and pomegranate molasses, it's the bomb.

Now, I know cauliflower rice sounds like a new-age fad kinda thing but I am a convert because it's fast to prepare, packed with veg and herbs and it's super lush. Trust me on this, do it!

Finally, shepherd's pie can easily go down two paths - the terrible nightmares of school dinners or near genius simplicity.

I prefer the latter, so my version keeps it light, delivers all the flavour, and even on a hot day it's an absolute ripper.

Enough talk; the garden calls. Happy cooking!

- Chef, restaurateur, author and father of two, Bevan Smith is the owner of the award-winning Riverstone Kitchen, north of Oamaru. His life revolves around food. Sharing that passion is central to his philosophy that all people should and can eat well.

 

Photos: Emma Willetts
Photos: Emma Willetts
Ground lamb with hummus

Serves 4

Ingredients
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
1 medium red onion, peeled and finely sliced
300g lamb mince
salt and pepper
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground chilli flakes
¼ tsp ground cloves, optional
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 cups hummus
¼ cup pine nuts toasted, optional
2 cups picked spring herbs, i.e. Italian parsley, chives, mint, coriander
½ small red onion, peeled and finely sliced
extra virgin olive oil

Hummus - Makes 2 cups
1 cup dried chickpeas, soaked in cold water overnight
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tbsp tahini paste
juice of 1 lemon
½ cup olive oil
1 cup water
sea salt and pepper

Method
Heat the olive oil in a medium sized pot over a moderate heat. Add the garlic and onion and cook for 2-3 minutes to soften.

Turn up the heat and add the lamb. Season and continue to cook, breaking up any lumps of lamb mince with a wooden spoon.

Add the spices and then the tomato. Cook for a further 5 minutes and thin down with a little water to prevent the lamb getting too thick. I prefer a wetter mixture as the tomatoes can make the lamb a little rich if it gets too dry.

Spread hummus over a large platter or 4 plates and spoon lamb mixture over top. Scatter with pine nuts if using and herbs.

Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and serve with plenty of bread on the side to scoop up all the loveliness.

Hummus
Drain chickpeas and place in a small pot. Cover well with water and bring to the boil over a high heat. Reduce heat slightly and cook for 45 minutes or until tender, topping up with additional water as needed.

Drain cooked chickpeas and rinse in cold running water.

Place chickpeas in a food processor with garlic, tahini paste and lemon juice and process until well combined. With the motor still running, add olive oil and some of the water.

For a wetter consistency, add remaining water and season to taste. For a thicker hummus, omit remaining water. Hummus keeps for up to 10 days in the fridge.

You can never have too much hummus!

 

Seared lamb back-strap with cauliflower rice and pomegranate molasses

Serves 4

Ingredients
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
4 small lamb back-straps
½ head cauliflower, roughly chopped into 3cm pieces
1 cup mint, picked and finely chopped
1 cup Italian parsley, picked and finely chopped
zest and juice of 1 lemon
good white wine vinegar
extra virgin olive oil
pomegranate molasses
natural yoghurt, optional

Method
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a high heat. Lightly season the lamb and cook for 2 minutes on each side before turning off the heat and resting in the pan, turning over each piece of lamb from time to time as it rests.

Meanwhile, place the cauliflower pieces in a food processor and pulse until the cauliflower becomes fine and grain like in texture.

Place cauliflower in a bowl add the mint, parsley, lemon juice and zest and mix together. Add vinegar, seasoning and extra virgin olive oil to taste and spoon on to 4 plates.

Carve lamb and place on top of cauliflower. Drizzle with pomegranate molasses (and yoghurt if using) and serve.

 

Bevan's shepherd's pie

Serves 4-6

Ingredients
1 small lamb shoulder, bone in
3 medium carrots, chopped into 1cm-2cm chunks
3 brown onions, cut in half
2 heads garlic, cut in half
3 sticks celery, cut in 4 cm pieces
small bunch thyme
handful oregano, optional
salt and pepper
2 cups water
4 medium Agria or Desiree potatoes
125g butter, cubed
1 cup chopped Italian parsley
2 large handfuls blanched greens, roughly chopped
¼ cup ground parmesan, optional
crusty bread

Method
Preheat oven to 200degC. Place the lamb shoulder in an appropriate roasting dish with sides and scatter veg and herbs over the top.

Season and add the water to the base of the dish. Cover well with tinfoil and place in oven for 30 minutes before turning down the heat to 160degC and cook for a further 2 1/2 hours or until extremely tender and falling off the bone.

Remove from oven and allow to cool. In the meantime, peel the potatoes and place in a small pot and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer until cooked. Drain well, mash, season to taste, stir in the butter and reserve for later use.

Once the lamb is cool enough to handle, remove the tinfoil, strain off and save the cooking juices. Remove all cooked veg and put to one side for later. Squeeze the garlic and onion from their skins and add to the rest of the cooked veg. Take the meat off the bone discarding any excess fat, and place the meat to one side.

In a frying pan arrange the meat, veg, parsley and greens in layers. Pour some of the cooking juices over the top. Pipe or spoon the mashed potato on top and finish with parmesan.

Return the shepherd's pie to a 200degC oven and cook until the top of the potato starts to turn golden brown. Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly. Serve with plenty of crusty bread.

 

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