There’s only one thing better than being served a delicious, hot lunch on a miserable rainy day. And that’s being served a delicious hot lunch cooked by one of Australia’s top chefs.
Recently, PRIMER was lucky enough to be invited to a masterclass with Mark Best – the veteran Australian chef behind acclaimed Sydney restaurant Marque – where we watched him at work (before enjoying the results).
These dishes were conceived as a way to transform traditional Christmas recipes, but the mushrooms and lamb could be enjoyed all year round. And although they look impressive, Mark was quick to point out that even those with the most basic cooking skills could pull them off. “There’s nothing technically difficult about this.. but the [preparation] process is quite long and arduous.”
But, he adds, around Christmas “there’s something to be said for the amount of work that goes into [a dish]. It says something about you as a guest”.
The key, explains Mark, who is an AEG ambassador (and cooks with an AEG Steam ProOven at home), is in planning in advance. “Christmas cooking shouldn’t be stressful. You shouldn’t be stuck in the kitchen away from your guests.”
Stuffed field mushrooms, by Mark Best
8 extra-large field (portobello) mushrooms
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 bunch of curly parsley
8 sage leaves
1 tsp sea salt flakes
1 tsp freshly ground white pepper
Choose the four best mushrooms and carefully remove their stalks.
Place the remaining mushrooms and reserved stalks in a food processor and pulse to a coarse mince or pâté.
In a frying pan over medium heat, sauté the garlic and onion in a little of the butter until golden. Add the remaining butter and minced mushrooms and cook over high heat, stirring, until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Add the vermouth and cook for another minute. Wash the parsley very well and pick the leaves from the stalks. Chop the parsley leaves with the sage. Add the herbs to the mushroom mixture in the pan and season with the salt and pepper.
Preheat the AEG SteamPro oven to 180°C. Place the reserved mushrooms, cup side up, on a baking tray. Fill the mushroom cups evenly with the mushroom pâté. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden.
Serve as an entrée or as a side to roast lamb
Roast lamb leg in chamomile, by Mark Best
1.2kg suckling lamb leg (long leg, rump on)
2 tsp sea salt
1 garlic bulb, cloves separated and peeled
50ml olive oil
50g best-quality chamomile tea
2 onions, roots removed, cut into quarters
Splash of white wine for deglazing
Small bunch of fresh chamomile
Remove the lamb from the refrigerator one hour before preparation.
Preheat the AEG SteamPro Oven to 180°C.
Evenly score the skin of the lamb to a depth of 5mm. Rub the salt all over the meat.
Blend the garlic and olive oil into a paste in a food processor, then rub all over the lamb. Sprinkle over the chamomile tea leaves. Heat a heavy roasting tin in the oven until hot.
Put the lamb and onion in the tin and cook for 1 1⁄2 hours (25–30 minutes per 500g), basting the meat with its fat from time to time. Cook the lamb to your preferred temperature (use 65–70°C for the best flavour and texture). Use
the AEG SensePro Wireless Food Sensor to monitor this.
Remove the meat from the oven to rest for 20–30 minutes prior to serving.
Tip off some of the fat and deglaze the tin with a splash of white wine. Reduce the wine to a thick syrup then add a little water. Bring to the boil, scraping the pan with a wooden spoon to make a jus and pour it over the sliced
lamb to serve.
Garnish with the fresh chamomile flowers and carve the lamb at the table.
Serve with radicchio dressed with balsamic and sesame oil.
Christmas honey biscuits, by Mark Best
900g runny honey
450g raw (demerara) sugar
4 whole eggs
1.7kg plain (all-purpose) flour
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 Tbsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
240g icing (confectioners’) sugar
1 egg white
1 tsp lemon juice
In a small saucepan, warm the honey using the AEG SensePro Induction Cooktop over low heat.
Transfer the honey to a very large bowl with the raw sugar and whole eggs. Gradually sift and stir in the flour, spices and bicarbonate of soda until you get a stiff mixture that is neither dry nor sticky.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave overnight in the refrigerator. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Line a baking tray with baking paper. For simple round biscuits, roll 1 tbsp of dough into a ball and place it on the lined baking tray. Flatten slightly. Repeat with the remaining dough, leaving a 1cm space between the balls.
Press a sugared almond into the top of each ball. (Alternatively, use decorative cookie cutters of your choice in various shapes.)
Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until the biscuits have a nice golden colour. Times will vary slightly depending on the thickness of the biscuit. A thin biscuit will be crisp while a ball will be softer.
Allow to set for a couple of minutes on the tray before transferring to a wire rack to cool.
While the biscuits are cooling, whisk the egg white in a bowl until just broken up. Whisk in the icing sugar to form a thin icing. Stir in the lemon juice to assist hardening the icing.
Decorate the cooled biscuits with the icing and leave for 25 minutes to set.