Ambassador Chef, Freddie Ponder from Tables Restaurant in New Plymouth loves cooking with New Zealand lamb. Not only is it a versatile and flavoursome product to work with, the lamb Freddie uses is raised on the wholesome green pastures down the road from his restaurant which underpins the paddock-to-plate philosophy which is so important to chefs.
A popular lamb cut he loves to have on his menu is lamb belly. Not only is it a cost-effective menu item, but it has a wonderful robust flavour and texture which comes from a long slow braise which renders the fat and enhances the flavour.
To get the best from lamb belly, he likes to roll it using garlic, onion and thyme and then slowly braise it in a flavoursome stock. Freddie used lamb belly for a course at his recent Ambassador Series dinner and matched the lamb with a smokey flavoured hangi potato and the sweet flavours of carrot purée, pickles and grapes creating a beautiful dish full of flavour harmony. Equally as good with lamb belly are the flavours of artichoke and pickled mushrooms – below Freddie shares one of his recipes using lamb belly.
LAMB BELLY WITH JERUSALEM ARTICHOKES AND PICKLED MUSHROOMS
INGREDIENTS - SERVES 8
1 small lamb belly (ask your butcher for flaps)
2 white onions, sliced
20gm thyme, finely chopped
4 gloves of garlic, crushed
10gm rosemary, finely chopped
10gm parsley, chopped
1litre beef or lamb stock
30ml red wine
3 meters of butcher’s string
Salt and pepper
Method: Place onions, garlic, thyme and rosemary in a large pan and cook until the onions are golden, then cool. Place the lamb flat on a chopping board skin side down and season. Place the onion mix in the middle of the lamb belly, add the parsley and roll up. Tie with butcher’s string. Place the lamb belly in a deep tray adding the stock and wine and cover with tin foil. Cook for 3 hours at 160°C until tender. Strain off the stock and put aside to reduce and use as a sauce. Cut the string and place back into the oven at 200°C for 10 minutes until golden.
500gm Jerusalem artichokes, peeled and diced
1 small onion, diced
1 glove garlic, crushed
Salt & pepper
Method: place the butter in a small pot and gently melt. Add the onion and garlic and cook until golden. Add the artichoke and cook on medium heat until soft then add the water and season. Reduce until mushy and then blend to a smooth consistency. Taste and add seasoning if needed.
150gm buttoned mushrooms, sliced
300ml white wine vinegar
Method: Place the vinegar, sugar and star anise in a small pot place and place on a medium heat to bring to boil. Once the mixture has boiled remove from the heat and add the mushrooms. Leave the mushrooms in the mixture to pickle and then store until ready to use.
To serve: slice the lamb belly into rounds and serve with the purée and pickled mushrooms.