For Queens Birthday weekend I went to Hawkes Bay for the weekend with the little dude and the lady friend. I’ve been in Wellington now for just over a year but spent two years before that living in Hawkes Bay working as sommelier at Terroir at Craggy Range. We had a great dinner there but the highlight of every weekend trip to Hawkes Bay is the Sunday Farmers Market at the Showgrounds. It is one of the best farmers markets in New Zealand (and probably the world) and services the community so well - catering for every walk of life from mums and dads on minimum wage wanting to buy good quality produce at great prices to feed their families through to having vendors selling super premium niche vendors selling game birds like squab, quail and pheasant for up to $60 a bird.
Unfortunately I left my camera at home so prose will have to do. We ventured around the market checking out what was on offer - late Autumn is a wonderful time to visit a farmers market as this is when there is the widest choice: everything from the last of the seasons super ripe, super sweet peppers and tomatoes to the first celeriac and Jerusalem artichokes. In fact, most of the ingredients for the soup I wrote about last week came from the market. We got coffee from the folks at Bay Espresso and caught up with Hal Josephson, executive producer on the Wellington-filmed sci-fi thriller Eternity directed by Alex Galvin.
One of my favourite ingredients is the wonderful smoked paprika from Orcona Chillies - this was the first ingredient I saw which had to be part of dinner that night. Next I found some wonderful celeriac from the folks at Epicurean Supplies who supply many of the best restaurants in Hawkes Bay and further afield. They also had tarragon (the last of the seasons). Tarragon is one of my favourite herbs as the window it is available for is so short. I love having it in a fricassee with Chicken, white wine and cream. Simple and perfect. There was also walnuts everywhere - these two had to be a feature.
On the way home I got a lamb leg and made a ham-fisted attempt at boning it. Then I sautéed a finely chopped white onion and two finely chopped rashers of streaky bacon until the onion was translucent. I then added a ½ cup breadcrumbs and a ½ cup chopped walnuts and toasted both over a low heat. Finally I added ½ teaspoon Orcona Smoked Paprika, about 25g of tarragon leaves and 10g of marjoram leaves before tasting and seasoning with salt and pepper. I then stuffed this into the lamb cavity and tied with butchers string - I made a mare of this as well. I roasted at 180 degrees for about an hour and a half (the shin end was cooked and the top of the thigh was still medium rare. This seems to suit most people in my family. Rest for 20 minutes.
When the lamb has about 15 minutes to go I peeled and cubed two large potatoes (about 400g) and about 600g of celeriac. Bring to boil and simmer until the potatoes and celeriac are cooked. Either mash or rice and combine with 200mls warm milk and 100g soft butter until smooth and rich.
Slice the lamb and serve atop the celeriac mash, pour the pan juices over the top. We had a crisp green salad alongside and this worked a treat, mopping up the juices and providing a bit of freshness and cut.
Drink with a light, aromatic Pinot Noir or a voluptuous Chardonnay or Viognier.