This coming Sunday is Roast Day and the perfect opportunity to celebrate what must be regarded as New Zealand's national dish. Grant Allen cooks up his favourites.
Jamie's stand at Auckland's La Cigale Market is always crowded. As well as selling meat he's also behind the barbecue, with a big smile, serving his beef sausages with rocket and homemade relish. Jamie Lyons is the fourth generation to farm at Te Kainga Farm.
I love his story of how the property has been worked by succeeding generations, but Jamie knew the way of the future.
He farms free range, and has total control of his product from his paddocks to the market stalls and the online shop that he sells through.
I'm here to buy a leg of lamb to roast. Its Selak's Roast Day, Sunday, August 7, and roast lamb has to be one of our most ingrained nostalgic food memories. Thoughts of roast lamb may evoke the traditional but what and how we roast today has changed since Nana left the kitchen.
Our meat will be younger, less fatty, it may have the bone out. We probably won't reach for the 'drippings' of our last roast to start this one, we are more likely to drizzle it with oil.
The classic combination of roast meat and root vegetables is tried and true, but you can update your roasting to include newbies such as chunks of celeriac, baby onions, baby beetroots, yams or Maori potatoes.
Instead of cooked greens, make a peppery watercress salad with some orange segments and mint to contrast with the sweet lamb and caramelised vegetables. I like the way the cress wilts in the hot gravy. Having said that, I'm sorry, but you do have to have some peas. At this time of the year use frozen.
Roast leg of lamb
1. Put a leg weighing 1.5-2kg into a roasting dish. Rub the leg with salt and pepper, sprinkle it with oil or butter.
2. Add a cup of water into the dish.
3. Put into a moderate oven and allow to cook to your desired doneness taking into account resting time.
4. Meanwhile peel, cut and season your vegetables with salt and pepper and another splash of oil.
5. Put into the oven in a separate roasting dish and cook until tender.
6. Prepare your salad.
7. Cook your peas.
8. Make a mint sauce - check your Edmonds Cook Book
9. Platter all the components. Make a gravy
10. Serve to the middle of the table and celebrate Roast Day.
Top meat and vege suppliers:
Te Kainga Farm
Art of Produce
Some modern ovens will have an in-built meat thermometer that will tell you when your meat has reached its perfect cooking point, or you can buy one such as the Breville Digital Meat Probe and Timer. Sounds spooky, but do not be afraid!
The alternative is pushing into the meat with your index finger and sensing that the joint is cooked rare, medium rare or well done. This takes experience and I suggest if you are not sure, get a thermometer such as the Digital Meat Probe and learn the touch technique (find your ideal cooking point and get the feel of it).
Internal roasting temps for lamb are: med rare 63c, med 71c, well done 77c. To whatever degree you cook your meat, always allow 15 mins resting time, after it has reached your ideal cooking point. Remove it from the oven, cover it with some foil and allow the juices to distribute before you serve. Carve with love.