Celebrating Christmas in summer means that your menu options can range from a special cut on the braai to a picnic basket on the beach. There is however something to be said for a traditional candlelight Christmas dinner!
Chef Pieter introduces some festive ingredients – nuts, dried fruit and a delicious combination of herbs and spices – to a traditional recipe for roast saddle of lamb. Impossible to resist! Add to that delicious saffron potatoes and grilled artichokes and you have a festive meal that is both trendy and traditional.
Recipe for Roast saddle of lamb with saffron potatoes and grilled artichokes
125 ml macadamia nuts, lightly toasted
125 ml whole, peeled almonds, lightly toasted
250 ml dried apricots
10 ml honey
1,5 kg deboned saddle of lamb, with the loins attached
1 tablespoon Chinese 5 spice
15 basil leaves, chopped
Zest and juice of one lemon
Salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
For the potatoes:
24 baby potatoes, skin on
2 litres chicken stock
1 tablespoon rock salt
Pinch of saffron
For the grilled artichokes:
8 marinated artichokes, cut in half
Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 170 °C.
In a food processor, roughly blend the nuts, apricots and honey with a little olive oil and set aside.
Season the lamb with the Chines 5 spice mixture.
Fill the inside of the deboned saddle with the blended pine nut and apricot mixture, then season with the chopped basil, lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper.
Roll up the saddle of lamb and, by using the butcher string, tie the meat together. This will prevent the filling from falling out during the cooking process.
On the stove, heat a heavy-based pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the butter. Brown the lamb evenly in the pan, then remove and place in a roasting tray.
Roast the lamb for 45 minutes to 1 hour, then remove from the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes.
In a heavy-based pot, place the potatoes, chicken stock and salt and bring to the boil.
Once the stock is boiling, cover with a lid and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 15 – 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
Once cooked, remove the potatoes from the pot, retaining the stock.
Peel the potatoes and place them back into the cooking liquid along with the saffron.
Bring the stock to a gentle boil (this will allow the saffron to infuse the stock).
Turn off the heat and allow the potatoes to cool inside the liquid.
(The saffron should give the potatoes a deep yellow colour.)
Heat a heavy-based grill pan and char the artichokes, flat side down.
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