A few years ago, we went to visit some friends living in the Waikato. They had a bouncing baby called Angus, a mean yellow-eyed goat called Robert at the front gate, and two lambs frolicking in the front paddock. ‘Oh, look at your lambs,’ I cooed to Simon.
‘Yeah,’ he grinned back, ‘we’ve called them “Christmas” and “Dinner”.’ I was momentarily slightly shocked by this, but then I remembered that I’d grown up on a sheep farm and, well, I knew where lamb chops came from.
Lamb, even when veering towards mutton, is imbued with the sweet taste of nostalgia. It’s the original grass-fed, free-range, home-grown protein — even if most of us don’t live anywhere near sheep farms anymore. Despite occasional inner conflict about eating it, lamb remains my meat treat of choice. Here’s how we eat it most often at my house.
SERVES 4 | PREP TIME: 15min | COOK TIME: 45min
Coffee and cinnamon add a mysterious depth of flavour to this simple traybake. Add a crunchy green salad, and dinner’s sorted.
- 4 large cloves garlic, peeled and crushed to a paste with 11⁄2 tsp salt
- 4 tsp ground coffee (espresso or plunger grind)
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- finely grated zest of 2 lemons
- 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 8 lamb leg chops (about 800g)
- 800g baby new potatoes, scrubbed and halved if large
- 2 medium-sized red onions, peeled and cut into wedges
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 cup Kalamata olives
- freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon
- generous handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
1. Scrape the garlic paste into a shallow dish and add the coffee, cinnamon, lemon zest and 5 tablespoons of the olive oil. Mix well, then add the lamb chops. Rub the coffee-garlic mixture into them so they’re well coated on all sides, then cover and set aside.
2. Heat the oven to 200°C. Place the potatoes, onions and thyme into a large roasting dish and drizzle over the remaining tablespoon of oil. Mix well. Bake for 30 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and starting to turn golden.
3. Remove the tray from the oven and nestle the marinated chops among the potatoes. Scatter the olives on top. Return to the oven for 10–15 minutes, depending on the size of the chops — they should be pink in the middle when you cut into them.
Drizzle with lemon juice, sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.
Recipe courtesy of Homecooked by Lucy Corry, winner of the NZ Booklovers Award for Best Lifestyle Book 2022.