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Black coffee lamb for you and duck for the dog

03 July 2013 - 03:10 By Andrea Burgener

Andre Burgener has been immersed in all things food since she took over the making of the family's lunch box sandwiches aged eight (her mom could make a mean creme brulee and a staggering souffle, but could never butter the bread all the way to the edges.


Humans are the weirdest animals. Committed vegetarians, and even vegans, obtain pet carnivores (dogs and cats, mainly) to whom they must feed a lifetime's supply of other animals. Some of these humans turn their carnivores into vegetarians, and I know not what to say about this matter.

For wealthy and conflicted vegans/vegetarians (and human carnivores concerned about provenance), who lie awake at night wondering whether feeding Fluffy is really supporting the road-kill industry, there is an answer: Acana. It's unlike any other pet food out there.

Go to their site for the lowdown on every product they use. Better than most local restaurant larders, Acana sells grass-fed beef, free-range poultry, and wild-caught salmon, and contains no preservatives. This has to be a good thing, but the schlep-from-Canada factor seems quite extreme. Also, flavours such as the Duck and Bartlett Pear seem almost creepily gourmet, if you know what I mean. Acana is available at selected pet shops and vets in posh areas. See www.acana.com


For those of us who do eat animals, here's one of the most delicious recipes for lamb I've ever met. Black Coffee Lamb is adapted from a Milanese recipe in the great Terry Durack's Yum. The ingredients are unlikely bedfellows but work obscenely well, so please, as Durack instructs, suspend all disbelief until you taste it.

For four servings

1 leg of lamb (about 1.2 kg) / salt and pepper to grind over / 1 tbs dijon mustard / ½ cup very strong black coffee / 2 tbs cream / 1tbs sugar / 1 tbs brandy / 1 tbs rosemary sprigs / ½ cup chicken stock or water / 1 smashed clove garlic.


Heat the oven to 190C. Rub salt, pepper and rosemary over meat surface, then spread mustard on top. Mix coffee, cream, sugar and brandy in a pot or pan over low heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Place lamb in oiled baking dish and pour coffee mix over it. Roast for 30 minutes, then reduce heat to 150C and cook a further 15 to 25 minutes, depending on leg size. Baste the meat every now and then with the caramelising juices in the pan. Take lamb from oven and rest with a foil cover for another 15 minutes.

Don't miss the resting step: it ensures the slices are juicy and uniformly pink. While meat is resting, scrape the nubbly dark bits from the roasting dish bottom and scoop into a small pot with the chicken stock or water and garlic, until bubbling and amalgamated. Check the salt. I quite like a bit more cream in the sauce, but it is up to you. Slice the meat and spoon the sauce over it. It doesn't look pretty, but this is often the way with especially delicious things. I like this with plain mash; Durack likes it with rosemary roast potatoes.