Best lunch recipes from Jess Daniell, Auckland deli owner, caterer and food writer

Brisket burger with pineapple slaw.

Brisket burger with pineapple slaw.

Jess Daniell, deli owner, caterer and food writer, lives in Te Atatu Peninsula, Auckland. She opened Jess' Underground Kitchen deli, which has a catering business of home cooked dinners, in February last year, and is about to open another one in Remuera. She shares her best lunch recipes. 

This burger tastes as good as the picture looks – slow-cooked chipotle beef, a zesty pineapple and courgette slaw, creamy mayo, soft brioche bun. Enjoy as a burger or deconstruct it if you prefer.

If you're lucky, you'll have plenty of leftover brisket from this recipe too, so whip up a delicious midweek meal or a tasty sandwich the next day.

* Recipe: Pear and cardamom tarts
* Perfect Sunday night meal
* 3 ways with persimmons


Makes 6 serves / Takes 3½–4½ hours

1kg beef brisket
200g chipotle sauce
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 cup dark beer
1 cup beef stock
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
2 courgettes, ribbones
2 cups cabbage, shredded
1 cup diced pineapple
Small handful coriander leaves, roughly chopped
1 Tbsp jalapeño, diced
½ red chilli, finely diced
1 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for brushing buns
6 brioche burger buns
½ cup aïoli

Preheat your oven to 160°C. If your brisket doesn't easily fit into your casserole dish, cut it into smaller chunks. Add brisket, chipotle, onion, garlic, beer, beef stock, Worcestershire sauce, sugar and spices to the dish – the meat should be just covered in liquid. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and roast for 3–4 hours until the meat is tender and falls apart easily with a fork. Check the meat every hour — if it starts to look dry, add some extra beef stock or water.

Once cooked, remove the beef and shred it using 2 forks. Reduce the remaining cooking liquid by half. You may need to spoon residual fat off the top of the liquid with a ladle. Add the beef back to the reduced sauce and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper.

To make the slaw, combine the courgettes, cabbage, pineapple, coriander, jalapeño and chilli in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk together lime juice and 1 tablespoon oil and drizzle this over the slaw, tossing to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

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Halve burger buns widthways and brush lightly with remaining olive oil. Place buns oil-side down in a dry frying pan and toast lightly over a medium heat until slightly charred on the edges. Remove from the pan.

Spread aïoli evenly across the burger-bun bottoms and top with a generous handful of beef brisket. Add the pineapple slaw and the bun lid. Secure the burger with a skewer if needed.


Whether we serve them as bite-sized canapés or larger plated pies, these crispy triangles are always a hit. The filling is slightly sweet, especially with the little pops of dried apricot, and the orange-scented yoghurt sauce helps to cut through the richness of the lamb.

Lamb filo hand pies

Lamb filo hand pies

Makes 12 substantial pies
Takes 55 minutes


2 Tbsp olive oil
½ onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
200g lamb mince
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp paprika
¼ cup dried apricots, chopped
12 sheets filo pastry
60g butter, melted
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
1 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted
Salt & pepper


1 cup natural yoghurt
1 orange, zest & juice
Small handful mint leaves, finely chopped
Salt & pepper

Preheat your oven to 180°C. Line an oven tray with baking paper.

Heat oil in a small frying pan over a medium heat. Add onion and a pinch of salt to the pan and cook for 3–4 minutes until translucent, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.

Add lamb, stirring it with a wooden spoon to break up the mince. Cook for 3–4 minutes or until well browned. Season with salt and pepper. Add tomato paste, brown sugar, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, paprika and dried apricots. Cook for 2–3 minutes, until fragrant and golden. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Brush 1 sheet of filo pastry generously with butter and place another sheet directly on top. Cut in half.


Add a tablespoon of mixture to one corner, fold it on a diagonal to cover the mixture, then continue folding the filo pastry in a triangle fashion until the filling is fully encased. Repeat with the second filo rectangle. Brush tops with butter and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Place pies seam-side down on a baking tray.

Repeat until all of the mixture has been used. Bake pies for 15–20 minutes, until golden-brown and crispy.

To make the orange yoghurt, combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hand pies with a sprinkling of toasted pine nuts and a drizzle of orange yoghurt, plus extra for dipping.


The beauty of this belly-warming soup is that everything is done in the oven – no stirring required. Roasting intensifies the mushroominess and also gives you the chance to add even more flavours – think garlic, fennel and thyme. You can finish this soup with coconut cream to keep it dairy-free.

Roasted mushroom soup

Roasted mushroom soup

Makes 4 serves
Takes 40 minutes

800g Portobello mushrooms, washed & ends trimmed
10 cloves garlic, unpeeled
6 sprigs fresh thyme
1–2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves only
1 tsp fennel seeds
4 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup cream
1 lemon, zest & juice
Parmesan, to serve
Salt & pepper

Preheat your oven to 180°C. Line an oven tray with baking paper.

Arrange mushrooms, bottom sides facing up, on the tray, along with garlic, onion, thyme, rosemary and fennel seeds. Drizzle with oil and vinegar and season generously with salt and pepper. Bake for 25–30 minutes, tossing several times during cooking, until mushrooms are tender. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.

Remove thyme stems and squeeze the roasted garlic out of its skin. Add the entire tray of mushrooms, onions, garlic and herbs to the bowl of your food processor, including all of the juices. Add vegetable stock and blitz until smooth. Add cream, lemon zest and juice and blend until combined. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Serve hot with an extra drizzle of cream, some shaved parmesan and a drizzle of good-quality, extra-virgin olive oil.

My Underground Deli, by Jess Daniell, self published, RRP $49.95.

 - Sunday Magazine


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