Simple, but oh so good

Bart Beek | VOLUME 31, ISSUE 3

Warm up with these hearty, classic dishes made with wholesome and nourishing ingredients.

Braised lamb shanks, cumin, coriander, chilli and chutney

Chutney adds sweetness to these lamb shanks while cumin, coriander and chilli add fragrance. I brown the meat in a heavy-based pan, but you could place them into an oven preheated to 200°C and cook for 45 minutes until well browned.

Preparation time: 45 minutes

Cooking time: 2 to 3 hours

Serves: 4

2 tblsps cumin seeds

2 tblsps coriander seeds

50ml extra virgin olive oil

4 medium lamb shanks, trimmed short

Salt flakes and freshly milled pepper

1 medium brown onion, diced

1 carrot, peeled and diced

2 sticks celery, washed and diced

2 sprigs fresh rosemary, 12cm length

150ml Chianti (light Italian red wine)

1lt beef stock

330g tinned diced tomato

100g tomato chutney

½ tsp dried chilli flakes

2 bay leaves

400g parsnips

50g unsalted butter

200ml cream

150ml milk

30ml balsamic vinegar

30ml extra virgin olive oil

12 trussed cherry tomatoes

1 cup pearl couscous, cooked

½ cup micro red shiso

Pre-heat the oven to 160°C.

Heat the cumin and coriander seeds in a saucepan until fragrant. Transfer to a mortar and pestle and grind until fine.

Heat a large, heavy-based braising pan and add the oil. Season the lamb shanks well. Brown them well on all sides, then transfer to a plate.

Cook the onion in the pan with a little oil until lightly brown. Add the carrot, celery and whole rosemary sprigs and cook until lightly browned. Add the red wine and stir well to dissolve the sediments. Add the stock, tinned tomato, chutney, chilli, spices, bay leaves and lamb shanks. Place a lid on the pan and transfer to the pre-heated oven. Cook slowly for two to three hours, or until very tender.

Remove from the oven, discard the rosemary and the bay leaves and check the seasoning. Place the lamb shanks on a plate. Strain the sauce into a saucepan, bring to a boil and reduce until slightly thick. Combine the shanks and reduced sauce, cover and keep warm.

Peel and core the parsnips, cut into dice and place into a saucepan with the butter. Cook gently for five minutes, then add the cream and milk and cook until tender. Purée the parsnips in a blender with a little of the strained liquid. Season well.

Heat the oven to 180°C. Combine the balsamic vinegar, olive oil and seasoning. Brush all over the trussed tomatoes and roast in the oven for six minutes.

To serve, place some of the parsnip purée onto a heated dinner plate and put a lamb shank onto the centre. Add some cooked couscous around one side and several tomatoes on the other side. Finish with a scattering of micro red shiso.

This delicious winter dish is a stunner that can be prepared ahead and plated up just before serving. The beetroot’s earthy flavour is perfectly matched with the rich and tangy avocado foam.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 45 minutes

Serves: 4

12 baby beetroots

2 bay leaves

6 sprigs lemon thyme

Salt flakes

40ml extra virgin olive oil

125g avocado flesh, from 1 ripe avocado

½ lime, juice only

60ml ice-cold water

1.6g (½ tsp) salt flakes

¼ tsp ground white pepper

¼ tsp xanthan gum

150g crème fraîche

100g soft goat’s cheese

1 Granny Smith apple

8 golden shallots (eschallots)

30ml extra virgin olive oil

8 sprigs lemon thyme

8 nasturtium leaves

12 pecans, broken into halves

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.

Remove the beetroot tops, leaving 2cm of stem on and keeping the tails intact. Place onto a sheet of aluminium foil. Top with bay leaves, lemon thyme, salt and oil. Carefully wrap in the foil and seal well. Roast in the oven for 40 minutes, or until fully cooked. When cool, carefully rub away the tops and skin (wearing gloves is a good idea). Refrigerate until required.

Halve the avocado, remove the seed and peel away the skin. Process the avocado flesh, lime juice, cold water, salt, pepper and xanthan gum in a twister blender until smooth. For a fine, light foam, place the mix into a siphon, charge with one cartridge, shake for 10 seconds and chill until required.

Beat the crème fraîche until thick, then beat in the goat’s cheese until well combined and smooth. Place into a small piping bag and refrigerate until required.

Cut the apple into wedges and grill over a char grill until lightly scorched. Peel and halve the shallots, cook in an oiled, preheated frypan until golden. Cool.

To serve, place a spoonful of avocado foam onto a plate and drag to form a smear. Place three beetroots on the avocado, two apple wedges and pipe on three small mounds of goat’s cheese glaze. Finish with the pecans, thyme sprigs, shallots and nasturtium leaves.

Grilled Scotch fillet, pumpkin purée, farro, asparagus and mushrooms

This is my favourite cut of meat for grilling: 36-month-old Tasmanian Cape Grim beef, 100 per cent grass-fed and dry-aged. Frequently turning a steak while cooking it will ensure even pinkness from edge to edge, while resting it will help settle the juices and retain the delicious moisture when it’s cut.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4

400g jap pumpkin, peeled and diced

250ml chicken stock

Salt flakes and ground white pepper

1 cup cracked farro

Salt flakes and freshly milled black pepper

20ml extra virgin olive oil

1 bunch green asparagus tips

2 cups button mushrooms, halved

4 x 200g grass-fed Scotch fillet steaks

Salt flakes and freshly milled black pepper

½ cup micro parsley

Place the diced pumpkin and chicken stock into a small saucepan, top up with water to just cover the pumpkin. Bring to a boil and cook gently for 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain the pumpkin. Process in a blender until smooth, adding some stock. Season well and keep warm.

Place the farro into a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a gentle boil and cook until tender, but still with a little firmness. Drain, rinse and season well.

Heat a frypan and add some of the olive oil. Grill the asparagus tips for several minutes until just cooked. Remove and set aside. Grill the mushrooms until golden brown. Add them to the asparagus and season well.

Add a little more olive oil to the pan and bring up to a high heat. Season the steaks well on both sides. Grill, turning every 30 seconds until medium rare or cooked to the desired rareness (medium rare takes five minutes, depending on how thick the steak is). Place onto a plate, half cover with aluminium foil and allow to rest for five minutes.

Place a half-circle of pumpkin purée onto a warmed plate. Slice the steaks into thick strips and place onto the plate. Spoon on a little farro, the asparagus tips and mushroom halves, and finish with a little extra pumpkin purée and micro parsley.