• Twenty Something Humans

All Day Cafe: Slow-cooked lamb with pearl couscous salad

If you're after something a little bit fancy, maybe you're cooking for a special "someone" or you just feel like taking the time to chop, stir and cook your food with some love - then look no further than Stewart McKenzie's 'All Day Cafe' a beautifully curated experience that will have you staying in and making your own brunch.

We were treated with a delicious morsel of goodness from McKenzie's latest cook and we think this one will really wet your whistle.

Serves 4

Caramelised onions

2 small red onions

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons currants

500 g (1 lb 2 oz) Slow-cooked lamb shoulder (page 62)

500 g (1 lb 2 oz) pearl couscous

olive oil, for frying

2 eggplants (aubergines), cut into 1 cm (1/2 inch) thick slices

1 handful of wild rocket (arugula)

1 small of handful mint leaves, roughly torn

1 small handful of flat-leaf (Italian) parsley leaves, roughly torn

1/2 pomegranate, seeded

200 ml (7 fl oz) Tahini yoghurt dressing (page 161)

4 tablespoons Pistachio dukkah (page 189)

As meat prices increase, many of us are looking for ways to use secondary, cheaper, cuts of meat. Most of these are best cooked at a low temperature for hours, only needing to be checked occasionally, until the meat is rendered tender and succulent. Although we tend to think of a slow roast as a winter meal, it can be just as good in the warmer months, served as part of a salad, with simple vegetables and grains, or tossed through pasta.

To make the caramelised onions, preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Cut each onion into eight wedges and put in a bowl with the brown sugar, vinegar and olive oil. Toss to coat, then spread the onion wedges out on a small baking tray and roast for 20–25 minutes, until the onion is softened and caramelised around the edges.

Meanwhile, put the currants in a heatproof bowl, cover with hot water and set aside to soak for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Roughly chop or shred the cooked lamb shoulder and set aside. Cook the couscous following the manufacturer’s instructions.

Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Gently fry the eggplant slices, in batches, until golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towel.

Put the lamb, couscous and currants in a large bowl. Add the caramelised onion, fried eggplant, rocket, herbs and pomegranate seeds. Drizzle with the tahini yoghurt dressing and toss together. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Divide the lamb and couscous salad among four bowls. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of dukkah over the top of each salad before serving.

Slow-cooked lamb shoulder

1 small onion, finely diced

1 carrot, finely diced

2 celery stalks, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, finely diced

1 tablespoon chopped thyme

2 large rosemary sprigs

4 bay leaves

1 tablespoon sea salt

1 tablespoon peppercorns, crushed in a mortar and pestle

1 tablespoon fennel seeds, crushed in a mortar and pestle

a pinch of chilli flakes

100 g (31/2 oz) green olives, preferably Sicilian

1 orange, zest peeled into strips and then juiced

500 g (1 lb 2 oz) boned lamb forequarter (shoulder)

500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) white wine

Chicken stock, as needed

To make the SLOW-COOKED LAMB SHOULDER, preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F). Put all the vegetables, herbs, spices, olives, strips of orange zest and orange juice in a roasting tin. Place the lamb shoulder on top. Add the wine and top up with enough stock to nearly cover.

Cover with baking paper and foil, then place in the oven and roast for 3 hours. Remove the lamb from the oven, cover with a clean tea towel and set aside until cooled to room temperature. Transfer the lamb and tin to the fridge to cool overnight (or use immediately if you like). The following day, remove any fat that has congealed on the surface, then use your fingers to gently tear the lamb into bite-sized pieces.

Tahini yoghurt dressing

Makes about 450 ml (16 fl oz)

200 g (7 oz) plain yoghurt

200 ml (7 fl oz) olive oil

juice of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons tahini

1 small garlic clove, minced

Tahini dressing is used a lot in our kitchens and is great to stir through a potato salad, serve with grilled fish, as a salad dressing or as an alternative to aïoli or mayonnaise.

Place all the ingredients in a jug and blend using a hand-held stick blender. Alternatively, process all the ingredients together in a food processor. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Chicken stock

Makes about 2 litres (70 fl oz/8 cups)

1 whole chicken carcass

1 large carrot, roughly chopped

1 onion, skin on, roughly chopped

1 leek, roughly chopped

3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped

2 celery stalks

6 peppercorns

2 bay leaves

6 parsley stalks

2 thyme sprigs

3 litres (105 fl oz/12 cups) water

Put all the ingredients in a large stockpot and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 1 hour. During this time, use a ladle to skim off any impurities that rise to the surface.

Remove from the heat and then strain the liquid into a bowl, pressing on the solids to extract all the flavour. Set aside to cool for about 30 minutes, then place in the fridge. The stock will last for about 1 week in the fridge, but can also be frozen in smaller portions and used as needed.

Images and recipes from All Day Café by Stuart McKenzie (Murdoch Books RRP $39.99)

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