What’s on the menu for this year’s festive feast? Let us inspire you with recipes from the chef Tim Nott of the recently refurbished Aikman’s in Merivale.
Sponsored by Aikman’s Bar & Eatery and Aikman’s Pizzeria and Sports Bar
When we asked Tim for his take on a traditional festive meal, lamb was quick to come to mind. This dish is set to graces his own Christmas table – a favourite not just for this time of year, but for family Sunday roasts throughout.
“They key to perfectly cooked lamb is choosing the right cut for what you want to be serving. I choose the bone in shoulder because it holds its flavour, texture and shape in a braise and has great fat content for maximum flavour,” Tim says. “And it serves up to four people.”
Wine match: Church Road McDonald Series Syrah
Chef tip: Placing baking paper over the liquid prevents the lamb from burning as the liquid reduces.
Festive cranberry lamb shoulder (Serves 2-4)
1 lamb shoulder (bone in)
1 large white onion
2 sticks of celery
10 garlic cloves
2 sticks of rosemary
1 bunch of thyme
10 black peppercorns
1 cinnamon quill
2 star anise
200g dried cranberries
Handful of fresh mint, chopped
750ml red wine (merlot)
2 litres vegetable stock
500ml cranberry juice
30g corn flour mixed with 15ml cold water
flaky sea salt
Heavy based sauce pan
Deep roasting dish – approx. 30cm x 30cm, x 20cm deep
Preheat oven to 150°C on bake.
Score the top of the lamb shoulder with a peering knife and rub with a generous amount of flaky sea salt.
Roughly chop carrots and onions, cut celery in 2cm pieces, and crush garlic cloves.
Heat a heavy-based pan with a splash of canola oil, place the lamb shoulder scored side down and brown for 4-5 minutes.
Remove the lamb shoulder from pan to a deep roasting dish with enough room to submerge the lamb in liquid.
While pan is still hot, add the diced vegetables and sauté till brown, then add the red wine and simmer for 10 minutes.
Once reduced, add the wine and vegetables to the roasting dish with stock and all other ingredients. Make sure the lamb is submerged – top up with water if needed – and add a couple of pinches of salt.
Place a layer of baking paper on top of the braising liquid, cover the roasting dish tightly with foil and place in the oven for 4 hours.
Once the lamb is tender, carefully remove from the braising liquid and wrap in foil to keep warm.
Strain the liquid into a pan and heat until reduced by 50%.
Add chopped mint, dried cranberries and corn flour mixture to braising liquid and stir to thicken on high heat. Once thickened, remove from heat and pour into a serving jug.
Remove lamb from foil and place on serving dish. Pull apart with two forks and portion out. Finally, pour braising liquid over lamb and your choice of vegetables.
Suggested sides: roast potatoes, steamed broccoli, and minted peas with toasted almonds.
From a large family of meat eaters, Tim admits a vegetarian Christmas is not likely in his household. However, as a chef, his appreciation for such dishes has continued to increase, and he admits to serving more vege-based meals than he used to.
“There are so many vegetables out there and so much we can do with them,” Tim enthuses. “There is more than one way to skin a potato.”
Wine match: Mahi Rosé
Chef tip: To make a dish memorable, focus on one ingredient and make it shine.
Asparagus and courgette salad with goat’s cheese and pine nuts
2 bunches of asparagus
2 garlic cloves
50g pine nuts, toasted
30ml olive oil
100g goat’s feta
salt and pepper
handful of parsley, chopped
Trim asparagus and cut in half then blanch in boiling salted water for 30 seconds and refresh in ice water.
Use a peeler to shave the courgettes lengthways to form ribbons and discard the core. Thinly slice the garlic and zest the lemon. Toss both with courgette ribbons, olive oil, salt, pepper, finely chopped parsley, crumbled goat’s cheese and the juice of one lemon.
Toss asparagus with courgette ribbons and pine nuts, a touch more olive oil and salt and pepper, then place in a bowl of your choice. Best served cold.
In today’s world, it’s important to ask your guests about their dietary requirements being sitting down to any type of feast. Tim chose to cater for the vegans with this delicious dessert.
Wine match: Mon Cheval Riesling
Chef tip: It’s not as difficult as you think to transform your favourite recipe into one everyone can eat – just do your homework ahead of time.
Vegan vanilla cheesecake with coconut cashew caramel sauce
400g raw cashew nuts
150g blanched almonds
200ml almond milk
100g coconut oil
100g pitted dates
2 whole vanilla pods
100g coconut sugar
2 Tbsp agave syrup
lime zest and toasted almonds for garnish
Soak cashew nuts in boiling water for 1 hour. Remove a quarter with about 200ml of the water and set aside for sauce. Drain the rest and put aside.
To make the base: In a blender place 100g of blanched almonds, pitted dates and 40g melted coconut oil and a pinch of salt. Blend until texture can be pressed together and mouldable by hand. Pour mixture into lined cake tin and compact evenly with the bottom of a measuring cup. Place in fridge to set for 1 hour.
To make the topping: Drain water from the cashews (300g) and place in blender with almond milk, the insides of the vanilla pods and 60g melted coconut oil. Blend till smooth. Then, remove pre-made base from fridge and pour in the blended mixture.
To make the sauce: Blitz the reserved cashew and water in blender till smooth then pour into a saucepan. Add 100g of coconut sugar then bring to the boil, stirring constantly.
Pour over coconut cashew caramel sauce and garnish with chopped toasted almonds and fresh lime zest. Sauce can be served warm or cold.
Aikman’s is an established name in Meriale, but recently it’s undergone a lot of change. Refurbished and looking better than ever, Aikman’s Bar & Eatery and Aikman’s Pizzeria and sports bar (formerly Zanzibar) both benefit from the iconic Aikman’s courtyard and are jointly run by a new management team. The new owners have invested heavily into updating what’s on offer, lifting the game, quality and service in what is one of Christchurch’s favourite destinations.