You can't go wrong serving slow-cooked lamb with stacks of duck fat potatoes on Christmas Day, writes Gretchen Lowe
This year, for what seems like the first time, I won't be the main cook at Christmas. I'm looking forward to just pottering and dipping in and out of the kitchen - no matter how hard I try, I can never stay fully away.
We're spending the day in Auckland with my husband Blair's family who are congregating from Waikanae, San Francisco and Abu Dhabi. I live for family get-togethers like this, so the countdown is very much on.
There will be traditional ham and turkey but I'll be contributing my Persian lamb shoulder to mix things up. It would make a beautiful centrepiece if you were to make just one thing with a bunch of salads on the side.
The best thing about both these recipes is they can be prepared the day before and just put in the oven on Christmas morning.
If there's one time of the year to have duck fat, it's now. These potato stacks are deliciously crispy and can be partially cooked in their moulds then popped out and finished just before lunch. Merry Christmas!
Persian lamb shoulder with roast tangelos and pomegranate gremolata
1 lamb shoulder (about 2.5kg), bone in
3 Tbsp cumin seeds, toasted
4 garlic cloves
2 Tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp each ground cinnamon, cardamom and chilli flakes
Grated rind and juice of a lemon
Glug of olive oil
1 large bunch mint
4 red onions, cut into wedges
4 tangelos, cut in half
6 star anise
1L chicken stock
1 small bunch Italian parsley, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, grated
Zest of 2 lemons
Seeds of a pomegranate
Method: Preheat oven to 170C. Coarsely crush toasted cumin seeds in a small blender. Add garlic, coriander, cinnamon, cardamom, chilli flakes, lemon rind and juice, olive oil and mint. Season generously with salt and pepper and blend to a paste. Set aside.
Scatter onions over the base of a large roasting pan, drizzle with oil and season. Place lamb on top of onions and pat spice mixture on lamb to form a crust. Arrange tangelos around lamb, scatter with star anise then pour over stock and cover with foil.
Roast until very tender and falling from the bone (5-6 hours). For the gremolata, mix all ingredients together and serve on top of the cooked lamb. Serve lamb with all bits from the pan, the tangelos are delicious squeezed on top.
Duck fat agria stacks with garlic, sage and thyme
3/4 cup duck fat (or olive oil if vegetarian)
4 garlic cloves, flattened but not chopped
1 large bunch fresh thyme
10-12 sage leaves
8 small agria potatoes (washed and scrubbed but not peeled)
Plenty of black pepper and sea salt
Preheat oven to 200C fan bake. Melt duck fat and heat through with garlic, a few sprigs of the thyme and sage leaves - about 5 minutes over a medium heat. Allow to infuse off the heat for 10 minutes or so. Scoop out the garlic, any thyme stalks and sage.
Line the base of a 12-hole muffin tin with baking paper rounds. Arrange 1-2 small thyme sprigs in the base of each. Drizzle ½ tsp flavoured duck fat into each cup.
Finely slice potatoes about 1mm thick, preferably using a mandolin or food processor attachment, then place in a large bowl. Toss the potato slices with the remaining flavoured duck fat and plenty of black pepper and sea salt until all are well coated.
Layer potato slices in muffin tin holes, overlapping slices as you go to create a circular pattern. Make sure they're nice and high and press the centre of each to compact - they'll shrink during cooking. Drizzle over any remaining duck fat. Cover with baking paper then tinfoil and cook for 30 minutes.
Remove foil and baking paper then run a knife around the sides of each. Place a baking tray over the muffin tin and turn, releasing the potatoes. Rearrange any slices that may have fallen out. Using a spatula, turn cakes so thyme sprigs are facing down.
Bake until bottoms and edges are golden, about 15-20 minutes. Carefully turn cakes with thyme sprigs facing up and serve.