Three recipes from Always Add Lemon by Danielle Alvarez

Perfect for the charcoal grill: Grilled lamb leg spiedini.
Perfect for the charcoal grill: Grilled lamb leg spiedini. Photo: Benito Martin

 

Regular Good Food contributor Danielle Alvarez, who heads the kitchen at Fred's in Sydney, shares three recipes from her first cookbook, Always Add Lemon.

Grilled lamb leg spiedini with flatbreads and harissa-ish oil

I've cooked many a lamb leg in my day. Lamb leg "a la ficelle" is a bit of a fixture in my professional cooking life. This is where you hang a partially boned leg of lamb by a string in front of an open fire in a hearth. The heat slowly turns the lamb leg so you get beautiful, even, smoke-kissed cooking. I do not think most people have open fireplaces in their hearths these days, but if you do, that is my absolute favourite way of cooking a leg of lamb.

Danielle Alvarez's new cookbook.
Danielle Alvarez's new cookbook. Photo: Supplied

My second favourite way is this: small chunks, diced up, marinated and grilled over charcoal. Ask your butcher for a piece with a good fat cap on it. The rump is a good place to start.

I like to serve it with what I call harissa-ish oil. It's a mixture of cumin, coriander and chilli blended with olive oil. A classic harissa is made by soaking and pureeing dried chillies with ground coriander, garlic and tomato, so yes, this is not classic, but it's delicious nonetheless, and far easier to make.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1kg boneless fatty lamb leg
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4g thyme leaves
  • 4g fresh oregano leaves
  • flatbreads, lemon wedges and yoghurt, to serve

Harissa-ish oil

  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 2 tbsp Aleppo chilli flakes
  • 180ml olive oil
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METHOD

  1. To make the harissa-ish oil, toast your spices in a dry frypan until they are warm and aromatic. Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blitz on high speed until the spices are crushed and well combined. Set aside. This could be done well in advance and kept in the fridge.
  2. Dice your lamb into 2cm pieces and combine with all the ingredients in a bowl. Cover and leave to marinate overnight, or for at least a few hours.
  3. Set up a charcoal grill and get the coals white hot. Thread your lamb pieces onto either metal or bamboo skewers (remember to soak them first if using bamboo), then season with salt. Cook over the fire for 2-3 minutes on each side (you will only flip them once). If your grill is flaring up too much, simply move them for a minute or move the coals around a bit underneath them. Serve immediately with warm flatbreads, some harissa oil, lemon wedges and a dollop of yoghurt.

Serves 4 

Benito Martin – Wed, 21. October 2020 5:33 PMAlways Add Lemon by Danielle Alvarez published by Hardie Grant BooksTuna steaks with gribiche from Always Add Lemon.
Always Add Lemon by Danielle Alvarez published by Hardie Grant Books.
Photographer: © Benito Martin and Jess Johnson
Extract for Good Food, Oct 27, 2020.

This dish comes together in minutes and is so, so tasty. Photo: Benito Martin

Tuna steaks with gribiche

This is my definition of healthy summer eating: a beautiful piece of fish, quickly grilled, and a fresh herbaceous sauce to bathe it in. This dish comes together in minutes and it is so, so tasty. Gribiche is a French sauce made using hard-boiled eggs to make something slightly emulsified, like a mayonnaise. That emulsification makes the sauce feel rich and, paired with a lean fish like tuna, that is exactly what you want. Serve with some boiled new potatoes or a simple tomato and green bean salad.

INGREDIENTS

  • extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 800g yellowfin or other sustainably caught lean tuna, cut into 4 steaks
  • lemon wedges, to serve
  • salad greens or potatoes, to serve

Gribiche

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 80ml (⅓ cup) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp white-wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp snipped chives
  • 8 cornichons, minced
  • 1 tbsp salt-packed capers, rinsed and finely diced
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tsp finely chopped tarragon

METHOD

  1. Start by making your gribiche. Place the eggs in a small saucepan of cold water and bring them up to the boil. Once the water is boiling, turn off the heat, cover the pan and set a timer for 9 minutes. After 9 minutes, remove the eggs from the water and rinse them under cold running water until they feel room temperature or cool. Peel them and separate the yolks from the whites. Place the yolks in a small bowl and use a whisk to break them up a bit, then add the mustard and gently add the olive oil, whisking constantly until emulsified. Add the remaining ingredients to the yolks and stir to combine. Check for seasoning and adjust with salt and pepper as needed. Set aside until you're ready to cook the tuna.
  2. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil on the outside of the tuna steaks and season with salt and pepper. Leave them at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before you want to grill them so they aren't icy cold from the fridge. Set a chargrill or cast-iron pan over a high heat to get smoking hot, or set up a charcoal grill outside and get the grates as hot as possible.
  3. When the grill is hot and the fish is at room temperature, you're ready to grill. If you're doing this in a pan, you may only be able to do one or two at a time. Place the fish down and do not touch it for 30 seconds or 1 minute, flip and do the same on the other side. The cooking time really depends on the thickness of the fish, but the idea is that you just want to get a good sear and some colour on the outside but leave the fish raw but warmed on the inside. Serve immediately with a generous spoonful of gribiche, a lemon wedge, salad or potatoes.

Serves 4

Grilled flanken-style short ribs with lemon and olive oil from Always Add Lemon.
Always Add Lemon by Danielle Alvarez published by Hardie Grant Books.
Photographer: © Benito Martin and Jess Johnson

Flanken-style ribs grill up beautifully and quickly. Photo: Benito Martin

Grilled flanken-style short ribs with lemon and olive oil

Flanken-style or "asado-style" short ribs are short ribs that have been cut through the grain and through the bone. They are sliced thinly (about 1.5 cm) and each slice will have at least 3-4 pieces of bone in it. Unlike English-cut short ribs, which is the cut most of us are familiar with and that requires hours of braising, flanken-style ribs grill up beautifully and quickly. I'm sure if you've eaten Korean food before you will have tried this cut Kalbi-style, marinated in ginger, soy and sugar and grilled to a sweet caramelised char. This cut has more texture and chew than something like fillet, but, on the flip side, it also has so much more flavour.

This is a delicious dish, and by foregoing highly seasoned marinating ingredients and just grilling the meat, you're left with the beefiest tasting cut out there. Served simply with olive oil and lemon it is a real purist's way of eating it. Without question, you need quality beef to start with, so go to a butcher you trust and ask for the best beef you can buy. It must have excellent marbling and fat throughout.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1.2kg flanken-style short ribs
  • extra virgin olive oil, for brushing and drizzling
  • lemon juice, for drizzling

METHOD

  1. Heat your grill to a very high heat.
  2. Brush the ribs with a small amount of olive oil and season well with salt. Leave to sit for at least 15 minutes before grilling. Also, be sure that your ribs are at room temperature before grilling.
  3. Grill the ribs to a nice char on both sides, ensuring that the middle is still a little bit pink. This should only take 2-3 minutes on each side if your grill is extremely hot. Do not bring the lid of the grill down while these cook. Allow them to rest on a warm serving platter for a few minutes before serving, then simply drizzle with good olive oil and lemon juice.

Serves 4

This is an edited extract from Always Add Lemon by Danielle Alvarez published by Hardie Grant Books for $50 and is available where all good books are sold. Buy now

Photographs: Benito Martin and Jess Johnson