Cause » Recipe

Amazing Slow Roasted Lamb

When asked recently what my favourite meal is I didn’t immediately have the answer. After putting some serious consideration into it, I didn’t come up with a definitive answer, but an awesome roast lamb is certainly in my top 3. A perfectly roasted lamb shoulder, with roast potatoes and a red wine gravy, hell yeah.

There’s a couple of tricks to getting the most out of a lamb roast. Firstly, get a cut with the bone in, a shoulder or leg is perfect. The bone carries a lot of flavour and the meat around the bones is generally more interesting. Secondly, be sure to err on the side of less time than more, dry lamb is terrible. Finally, don’t skimp on the meat. Getting aged lamb isn’t particularly easy, but generally the better the butcher, the better the meat. Look for a good covering of a nice clean, white fat on the meat.


  • 1 x good size lamb leg or shoulder on the bone.
  • 4 teaspoons of smoked paprika
  • 4 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of butter


Leave the lamb on the bench for a few hours prior to cooking to let it come up to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 220.  Mix the spices and oil together in a bowl to form a paste. Rub the paste on the outside of the lamb especially on the top, fatty side. Place the lamb in a roasting dish and cook for 25 minutes. Cover the lamb with a tinfoil, lower the temperature of the oven to 120 and cook for 4 hours. An hour before serving, use a meat thermometer and check the internal temperature of the lamb. The temperature should be close to 77. If it’s below 73, increase the temperature of the oven to 180 and uncover to finish it off.

Half an hour before serving, take the meat out of the oven, wrap it in tinfoil and cover with a folded tea-towel and leave to rest. Retain the juice in the roasting dish for gravy.

Finally, when carving, retain the juices and and them to the roasting dish juices.

Gravy or Sauce

This recipe is not exactly a gravy, more of a jus or sauce. Take all of the retained juices from the pan and carving and either use the roasting pan or a big frying pan. Heat it up to a hard boil. Add the balsamic vinegar and stir. Lower the heat to a simmer and add plenty of salt, pepper and the butter. Let the sauce cook down to a slightly thick sauce and serve.

Thanks to Meat and Livestock Australia for a recent masterclass on cooking lamb. It helped quantify some of the method I’ve been using for a long time.


I’m Turning Vegetarian

Well ok, I’m not. That title is just a sensational attention grabbing headline. But, this week’s dinners are going to be pretty much exclusively vegetarian. The only meat products we bought at the market today were 2 snapper and some bacon (for breakfast.) We are also trying to step away from our regular carbohydrates of pasta and mashed potato and experiment with a few other “fillers.” There’s going to be beans, lentils, quinoa and perhaps some barley. I’m going to try and avoid rice as well, but I think that’s probably unlikely due to the likelihood of atleast a couple of curries.

Why you ask? Well I think our cooking revolves too much around pasta and stewy casseroles. I love them, but it’s pretty unimaginative and uncreative so placing some restrictions on the menu should help us think outside the box.

Anyway, what recipes do you suggest?

Mushroom Risotto with Duck Marylands

I love going to the market, buying a cut of meat and then figuring out what to do with it. This week the mystery box was duck marylands. Chicken marylands are pretty much my favourite cut of any meat and I was hoping the duck would be just as good. Alas, it is far too sinewy and tough and not quite as flavoursome as I was hoping. I probably won’t be buying the marylands in the future (though I’d appreciate suggestions), sticking with breast instead.

A quick Forage and I found Abstract Gourmet’s Duck Breast and Shitake Risotto and this is based on that.

Cropped duck risottoDuck Maryland

  • Mustard seeds
  • Fennel seeds
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Thyme
  • Pimento
  • Whatever other spices you feel might go nicely.

Dry roast all the spices in a frying pan,then grind them, most of the thyme and the salt up in a mortar and pestle. Rub the mix into the skin of the duck. On high, heat the vegetable oil and the remainder of the thyme in the same pan, when the oil begins to smoke, fry the duck, skin down. Turn the heat down to medium and cook on both sides until it’s cooked, but not overcooked.

Mushroom Risotto

  • Olive oil
  • 2 handfuls of field mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 leek, quartered and chopped finely
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • thyme
  • 1 1/2 cups of Arborio rice
  • 1-2 litres Chicken stock, preferrably home made.
  • 1 glass dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Saute the leek in the olive oil in a large frying, when the leak is soft and begins to lose its colour add the mushrooms, garlic and thyme and cook until soft. Now, pour in your rice and give it a good toasting for about a minute. They say you shouldn’t stir risotto, so shake the pan instead.  Next, add the white wine and let it cook down. From now on, be careful not to let the rice go too dry. As the rice starts to dry out, add a couple of ladles of chicken stock. You will probably use about 1.5 litres of stock, but work by taste and feel. It’s important to season this as you go, you’ll probably find (depending on the stock) you will probably end up using a metric shitload of salt.

When the rice is firm, but not hard. You are almost done. Take it off the heat, and fold in the butter, and the parmesan. Serve it while it’s hot and garnish it with a few sprigs of thyme and perhaps a squeeze of lemon juice.


Duck and mushrooms. The perfect ingredients to match with an earthy, intense Pinot Noir. Try something from Geelong or Yarra Valley. Our selection was the 2008 Ata Rangi “Crimson” a perfect match for about $30.


It’s been a while since I’ve mixed something up in the monthly cocktail party that is Mixology Monday and I’m well and truly past the deadline. But I’m hoping that Kevin over at Beers In The Shower (one of my all time favourite pastimes along with shower pow-wows) will accept the submission.

The concept of the “Money Drink” is one I’m so familiar with, a friend comes over, sees your bar and asks you to whip them up a tastey cocktail. They aren’t sure what they like, and you want to blow their socks right out of the water. Where do you turn? There’s a few decisions you have to make, do they want something hard or something smooth? Sweet or perhaps dry? The answers all of course depend on your punter. Old Fashioned, Manhattan or a Negroni are my favourites, the beauties that I turn to when I want to impress myself. But when I want to impress someone else, the best place to start is with a Mojito.


  • 45ml rum. I think any lighter, unnaged rum is good. Traditionally of course it is Cuban, illegal in the US. Here in Australia we don’t have a problem with that so Havana Club is a cheap option, but Matusalem Platino is amazing.
  • 30-45ml lime juice. This depends on how tangy the lime is. I usually use around 1 1/2 limes.
  • 1 barspoon brown sugar. This is supposed to be cane sugar but I  use brown sugar. Palm sugar is a good option also, it gives the drink a slightly cleaner taste.
  • Mint. Go out to the garden and grab a handful of mint, leave the stalks on there is a heap of flavour hiding in there.


Put the lime juice (and the shells if you like), sugar and mint in an old fashioned glass and gently muddle it. Add the rum, and then top the glass up to the top with crushed ice. Add a splash of soda water (or not.) Clap a sprig of mint nice and hard and garnish.

Perfect Roast Pork Crackling

There is nothing better than the feeling of biting into the crispy crackling of a perfectly cooked pork roast. A lot of crunch, followed by a tiny bit of chewiness, the textures in one mouthful are like nothing else. The beauty of it is, making your own perfect pork crackling is so easy.

Perfect Pork Crackling The trick to this crackling thing is moisture. Drawing out all of the moisture is what makes it crisp. This is a 2 step process, score the skin all the way across about 1 cm apart with a really sharp knife (I use a craft knife) and then add salt. Copious amounts of it.

Grab a bowl, add a heap of salt, crack a little bit of pepper, and a pinch of ground chilli and a few tablespoons of oil. Mix it all together with a fork and rub that onto the scored skin of your pork. Then add some more salt, all over it. I’m serious.

To cook, pre-heat the fan-forced oven to its hottest temperature, put the roast in, cook for about 5 minutes on that temperature and then turn down to your cooking temperature.It’s best to keep it on fan-forced as this keeps drawing out the moisture in the skin and helps with the crackling. About halfway through cooking, check your skin, stick it with a fork, it should be really quite hard. If it isn’t, add salt.

Before serving, if you are worried about it being too salty, wipe the skin with a paper towel. Most of the salt will just wipe off, leaving that beautifully crackling, fatty skin with just that little bit less cholesterol.

Roast Chicken stuffed with Lemon, Garlic and Fennel

Roast chicken is one of the easiest yet mind blowing dishes you can make. Almost impossible to break and due to the limited number of variables, great to experiment with. The most important thing is the chicken. Grab a small free-range chicken, they are a bit smaller but much tastier than fattened battery chickens. There are basically 2 parts of roasting a chicken, the rub and the stuffing.

The trick with the rub is salt, salt is what crisps up the skin and gives it that unique texture, you then add other flavours to it to enhance the taste. Simple and effective.

Roast Chicken

Chicken Rub Recipe

  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • pepper
  • paprika
  • lemon juice

Using a mortar and pestle grind ample salt, a touch of pepper and paprika to taste down to a fine powder, add a splash of olive oil and lemon juice and beat with a fork. Ensure there is enough to cover rub into the whole chicken, and if more is needed add lemon juice and salt.

Rub this into the skin of the chicken and make sure there is none left over, the more the merrier. Make sure you do this in the roasting dish as the chicken should cook in the extra rub.

Stuffing Recipe

  • lemon, halved then sliced
  • fennel, diced roughly
  • garlic, chopped roughly
  • breadcrumbs

Ensure that there isn’t too big chunks of anything and combine in a mixing bowl. Stuff the cavity with the stuffing.

Cooking Instructions

Cook in fan-forced oven at 170 for 1 hour (more for a larger bird). Check after about 40 minutes and if the skin is a nice dark colour, cover with tin foil. After an hour poke a skewer into the breast and under the leg and ensure the fluid runs clear.

Bonus Gravy

Depending on how much breadcrumbs was in your stuffing and how much rub you used after cooking the chicken there should be an extremely tasty, glutinous gravy in the bottom of the pan. Over a low heat, add water and, a touch of salt and a dob of butter and stir until it combines.

Lamb Shanks Recipe

Lamb Shanks are the perfect cut of meat to cook slowly in a rich sauce for a hearty winter meal. The meat is the tastiest cut of lamb meat but it is a little tough. However, by cooking it slowly in a sauce  the meat become tender and separates from the bone and the marrow flavours the sauce. Using frenched lamb shanks is important as this helps this process of extracting the marrow.

lamb shanks Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • half cup of plain flour
  • 4 lamb shanks, frenched
  • 1 wine glass of red wine
  • 1 large tin of crushed tomatoes
  • 2 large brown onions, roughly chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprig rosemary
  • 2 sprigs parsley + parsley or basil to garnish


Heat the olive oil in a large casserole dish. Meanwhile add a reasonable amount of crushed salt and pepper to the flour and flour the lamb shanks. When the oil is just starting to smoke, add the shanks and cook for a few minutes on all sides until golden brown. Add the garlic and cook until aromatic. Add the wine to the dish and deglaze the pan (get all of the browned meat off the pan,) finally add the rest of the ingredients stir and cook covered in oven at 160 degrees for 1.5 – 2 hours or until the meat falls off the bone.

Season and serve on a bed of mashed potato and garnish with a sprig of parsley or some roughly chopped basil.

Wine Pairing

The flavours in this dish are of dark meat and rich tomatoes which needs a big bold red wine. A well balanced Australian Shiraz’s fruit flavours will meld well with the rich tomato or the deep berry flavours of a Yarra Valley Pinot Noir will complement the dark lamb tones.