Parsnip puree and creamed spinach.
Parsnip puree and creamed spinach. Photo: William Meppem

Prawns with cocktail sauce, tender roast lamb with mint jelly - it's '80s excess at its best.


SEAFOOD COCKTAIL

Seafood cocktail.
Seafood cocktail. Photo: William Meppem

1 iceberg lettuce

extra virgin olive oil

sea salt

Roast leg of lamb.
Roast leg of lamb. Photo: William Meppem

1 lemon

freshly ground pepper

8 large cooked king prawns, peeled and deveined with tails intact

4 scallops, poached in salt water for 2 minutes

100g fresh crab meat

Cocktail sauce

3 tbsp tomato sauce

2 tbsp grated fresh horseradish or

1 tbsp horseradish relish

10 drops Tabasco sauce

250ml good-quality mayonnaise

Serves 4


To make the cocktail sauce, fold the tomato sauce, horseradish and Tabasco sauce through the mayonnaise until all ingredients are well incorporated.

Wash the lettuce and discard the outside leaves, then shred. Divide the shredded lettuce between four plates, drizzle with oil, sprinkle with sea salt and squeeze lemon juice over the top.

Place the prawns, scallops and crab meat on top of the lettuce and give a good grind of pepper. Spoon over the cocktail sauce and serve.

 

ROAST LEG OF LAMB

2-3kg leg of lamb, shank on

sea salt

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 heads garlic, cloves separated, skins on

1/2 bunch thyme

freshly ground pepper

Serves 4


Remove lamb from the refrigerator 2 hours before cooking and season with salt. Let the meat come to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Rub the lamb with extra virgin olive oil and put in a large roasting tin. Place the garlic and the thyme around the meat. Cook for 20 minutes, then turn the lamb over and reduce the oven temperature to 160ºC. Turn the lamb every 20 minutes and push the garlic around in the juices and oil to keep it moist.

After 1 hour, check the meat's core temperature. The desired resting temperature is 60ºC, so factoring in the residual heat, aim for 55-56ºC.

Once that temperature has been reached, remove the tin from the oven and try to get the oven temperature down to 60ºC for resting, holding the door ajar if necessary. Once the oven has reached the right temperature, remove the thyme from the dish and return the lamb to the oven to rest for 30 minutes.

To carve the lamb, place the leg on a chopping board, positioning it on one of its sides. Hold the shank with a tea towel, take a sharp knife, and starting from the ball at the end of the bone, cut down the bone, removing one of the large muscles. Turn the lamb around and remove the rest of the meat by cutting down each side of the bone. You should have two large pieces of meat on the board.

Slice each piece straight down, as if you were going down the length of the leg bone. This will give semi-circular slices that will be across the grain, making the lamb more tender. You can cut the shank off now and fight over who gets to eat it.

Place three to five slices on each plate and spoon over some of the fat and pan juices. Give a good grind of pepper and serve with mint jelly and the sides.

 

MINT JELLY

3 large Granny Smith apples, quartered, cores and stems reserved

1 bunch mint leaves

250ml white wine vinegar

500g caster sugar

 

Start making the recipe two days before it's required.

Place the apple, reserved cores and stems and 250ml of water in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until softened.

Place the mint leaves and vinegar in a blender and blend until finely chopped. Add to the apple mix and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside for 2 hours for the flavours to infuse.

Hang the mixture overnight in a muslin cloth in the refrigerator. Place over a bowl to catch the juices.

Measure 500ml of the juices and place in a saucepan over high heat. Add the sugar and stir until dissolved. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, regularly skimming the scum from the surface.

Pour into a 1-litre sterilised jar and refrigerate overnight before using. Store for up to a month.

 

CREAMED SPINACH

1kg (about 4 bunches) English spinach, stems removed, washed

50g unsalted butter

1 brown onion, finely diced

1 garlic clove, finely diced

1 1/2 tsp sea salt and ground pepper

250ml pure cream

1/2 tsp lemon juice, squeezed

Serves 4


Add the spinach in batches to a large hot frying pan and stir constantly for about

2 minutes. As each batch wilts, remove and place in a strainer, squeezing out the excess water with the back of a spoon.

Melt the butter in a pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook over low heat for about 8 minutes, or until soft. Add the spinach, salt and pepper and cook for

1 minute. Add the cream, simmer, and cook for about 2 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice.

In a blender or food processor, blend the mixture until fine and well combined. Check the seasoning, then serve.

 

PARSNIP PUREE

6 parsnips

30g unsalted butter, diced

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 small brown onion, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

500ml chicken stock or water

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

juice of 1 lemon, to taste

Serves 4


Peel, core and roughly dice the parsnips. Heat the butter and oil in a saucepan with a lid over a low heat and add the onion and garlic. Cook slowly, without colouring, for about 8 minutes, or until soft and sweet.

Add the parsnips and cook for a further 5 minutes, then add the stock and slowly cook the parsnip until most of the liquid has evaporated, about 30-45 minutes. Season well, then blend until smooth, adding more butter if necessary. Finish by adding lemon juice, to your liking.

 

HOT TIPS

* When I think of the '80s, I always think of the seafood cocktails my parents used to make. If you really love your guests, try it with cooked lobster.

* The roast is simple, but you can make it even easier if you buy the mint jelly.

* To test the mint jelly is set, place a drop onto a frozen plate and push it with your finger. If the surface wrinkles, it has reached setting point. If it slides about as a liquid, it should be boiled for a few more minutes before retesting.

* What could be more Australian and '80s than roast lamb with veg and mint sauce? 

 

SOMETHING TO DRINK

Chenin Blanc
This 2011 Domaine Clos du Naudin "Sec" from Vouvray ($45) in the Loire Valley, France, shows hints of green apple, honeysuckle and beeswax with a delicate, clean mineral drive on the finish. It's the perfect accompaniment to the delicate sweetness of the prawns and crab meat.