Loin, rump or leftovers, Kiwi lamb always tastes good

Seared lamb salad with pomegranate, radish and feta is as pretty as a picture, and tastes even better.
Maarten Holl/Stuff

Seared lamb salad with pomegranate, radish and feta is as pretty as a picture, and tastes even better.

Years ago we visited friends living the dream on a lifestyle block outside Cambridge. After we made it past the angry billy goat at their front gate, they proudly pointed at the lambs frolicking in the paddock next to the house.

"Look," they said excitedly, "that one's called Christmas and the other one is Dinner. I laughed, but felt terrible remorse. Then I remembered the sheep farm I'd grown up on (and all the lambs I'd bottle-fed), and felt even worse.

"That's the trouble with lambs," my husband said with mock sagacity, "they're so cute, but so tasty". As a completely hypocritical carnivore, I've yet to reconcile these two conflicting positions.

In the meantime, here are some recipes for the less ethically-challenged.

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SEARED LAMB SALAD WITH POMEGRANATE, RADISH AND FETA

Serves 4

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 6 minutes

The lamb loin is a very luxurious cut, which is best cooked on the rare side of medium. Look for the Silver Fern Farms lamb loins (or use their lamb steaks, for a more wallet-friendly alternative). All this needs is a glass of red wine and some crusty bread for the perfect easy dinner.

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400g lamb loin steaks, at room temperature

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

5 large handfuls baby salad greens

Seeds from 1 pomegranate

3 small radishes, thinly sliced

150g feta, thinly sliced

For the dressing:

1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Rub the meat all over with the oil and season well. Set a heavy pan over medium-high heat. Cook the lamb for three minutes each side, then remove to a plate. Cover loosely and allow to rest for six minutes.

While the meat is resting, divide the salad greens between four plates. Scatter the pomegranate seeds, radishes and feta over the greens. Mix together the dressing ingredients.

Carve the meat into 1.5cm slices across the grain and arrange on top of the salad. Pour any juices from the meat into the dressing and whisk together, then drizzle over the salads. Season well and serve immediately.

ROAST LAMB RUMPS WITH KUMARA, RED ONION AND RED WINE JUS

Serves 2-3

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes

Pleasantly plump lamb rumps are a good roast lamb option for small households – they're lean and quick to cook. This is nearly a one-dish dinner that is well suited to some lightly cooked greens like steamed broccoli or sauteed spinach. Any leftover jus can be frozen for next time.

3 purple-skinned kumara, peeled and cut into 5cm chunks

4 red onions, quartered

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Leaves from a 6cm sprig of fresh rosemary

Salt and pepper

500g lamb rump, at room temperature

For the jus:

1 tablespoon butter

1 small red onion, finely diced

½ cup red wine

1 cup beef stock

Heat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Put the kumara, onions and rosemary in a large roasting dish. Drizzle over two tablespoons of the olive oil and toss to coat. Roast for 20 minutes.

While the kumara is cooking, rub the lamb rumps all over with the remaining olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Set a heavy frying pan over medium-high heat. When hot, sear the lamb rumps for four minutes each side. Remove the pan from the heat and put the meat in the roasting dish with the kumara and onions. Return to the oven for 10 minutes.

While the meat is in the oven, set the frying pan you cooked the meat in over low heat. Add the butter and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes, or until the onion has softened. Pour in the wine and let it simmer for three minutes, then add the stock. Simmer for 10 minutes, until reduced and glossy.

After the meat has been in the oven for 10 minutes, remove it to a plate to rest. Cover loosely and keep warm. Return the kumara and onions to the oven and lower the heat to 180 degrees while the meat rests.

To serve, divide the red onions and kumara between warmed plates. Carve the meat into thick slices and arrange on the plates, then drizzle over the jus.

LEFTOVER LAMB SOUVLAKI

Serves 3-4

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 5 minutes

Unless you have a lot of mouths to feed, a slow-roasted shoulder or leg of lamb goes a long, long way. What starts out as a treat can become a bore unless you get creative about how you use the leftovers. These mock souvlakia are often on the menu at my place after a lamb feast and much loved by all (especially the cook).

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (use less if the lamb is fatty)

300-400g leftover cooked lamb, cut into 1.5cm strips

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

4 large pita breads or wraps

1 punnet hummus or tzatziki (or homemade equivalent)

Salad ingredients – 4 handfuls baby salad greens, shredded carrot or beetroot, shredded fresh mint leaves

100g feta, crumbled

Hot sauce, optional

Heat the pita breads or wraps in a low oven and keep warm.

Arrange all the salad ingredients and condiments on a platter.

Set a large, heavy frying pan over high heat. Add the oil, followed by the lamb and cumin seeds. Stir-fry for 3-4 minutes until crispy and completely heated through. Transfer to a bowl and take to the table.

Encourage all diners to make their own souvlaki by layering hummus or tzatziki on the warmed bread, followed by a heap of the salad ingredients and a spoonful of the crispy lamb. Crumble feta over the top, add a dash of hot sauce and eat immediately.

For more of Lucy's recipes, visit www.thekitchenmaid.com. To see what she's cooking on a daily basis, find her on Instagram or Facebook.

 - Stuff

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