Traditional lamb-leg recipes have their place: Christmas lunch, grandma’s birthday and country pubs. But according to Sara Oteri, cook, writer and food presenter, it doesn’t have to be this way.
She says a recipe like pull-apart sweet potato with diced lamb and green olive tapenade shows lamb to be more than an old school staple – particularly with liberal use of spices in cinnamon, cardamom and pepper.
“You take all the meat off the uncooked steak, dice it into nice thick chunks, rub in the spices and then fry it,” says Oteri. “Frying is all about the surface area, so make sure you turn it so the sides meet the pan, and often so it doesn’t stick.”
Broadsheet Access members get special tables at busy restaurants, tickets to exclusive events and discounts on food, coffee, brand offers and more.Find out more
Oteri says to pull apart the sweet potato right at the last minute. Take a knife and make a slit length ways, then literally pull it apart. You want it to tear; you want it to look a little messy.
“Then it's just about building in size,” she says. “I like to put the yoghurt first, though some people might elect to skip it as the sweet potato is so moist you often don't need it. After that, layer on strips of lamb, then sprinkle with roasted almonds, a dollop of the green-olive tapenade, layer on some fennel fronds, drizzle with olive oil and enjoy.”
Sides to serve it with
This dish is pretty filling says Sara, so she wouldn’t go crazy on the sides. More yoghurt and fennel fronds for guests to top up as required is encouraged, as is a fresh salad with a nice acidic dressing to accompany the lamb and yoghurt.
This recipe takes 15 minutes to prepare, about 45 minutes to cook and serves 6.
Pull-Apart Sweet Potato With Diced Lamb and Green Olive Tapenade
3 lamb leg steaks, diced into even cubes
1tbsp cardamom ground
6 medium sweet potatoes
2tbsp olive oil
Salt (to taste)
2 cups Greek yogurt
300g green olive tapenade or green pesto
2 x fennel, finely sliced (keep fronds)
1 jar preserved lemons, discard flesh and finely slice rind (optional)
1 block Greek feta
1 cup flaked almonds, toasted
Handful of parsley, roughly chopped
1tbsp red wine vinegar
Pepper (to season)
Drizzle the sweet potatoes with oil and bake whole at 180°C for 45 minutes or until soft all the way through. Remove and set aside.
Place lamb steak cubes in a bowl along with the cinnamon, ground cardamom and a generous pinch of salt. Coat the lamb cubes well in the spices.
Pan fry the lamb on medium/high until golden. Split into half quantities at a time if your pan is not big enough to ensure they fry without sautéing. Lightly dress the fennel with the olive oil and red-wine vinegar.
Slice open the sweet potatoes and add the yoghurt (optional). Top with the diced lamb, fennel and 1tbsp of the tapenade. Finish with preserved lemon, crumbled feta, almonds, fennel fronds, parsley, and pepper (to taste).
Let your lamb-steak cubes come to room temperature before cooking as this will allow them to cook more evenly.
An easy way to tell if the sweet potatoes are cooked all the way through is by piercing the side with a skewer.
If you feel like mixing it up, Hawaiian Sweet Potatoes (also known as purple yams) can work well with this recipe.
You can top with cayenne pepper instead of regular pepper if you like spice.
When choosing spices to pair with lamb, think of what also works with your accompaniments. For example, cinnamon loves lamb and sweet potato.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with We Love Our Lamb.