Lamb Stew in the Clouds

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Over the Christmas break we all got away for a short camping holiday. We often go to Purple Peak[]. It’s only 10-15 minutes from Akaroa, but it could be a million kilometres away. There’s no power, no mobile coverage and you are 1500 feet up a mountainside so the views take your breath away.

 We pitched our tent in a nice flat area and then started to prepare our evening meal. Since we bought our Cobb oven, we have started planning and executing some culinary masterpieces while we ‘rough it’ in the outdoors. First up some rosti because the gentle heat of the oven cooks them perfectly. Rosti are brilliantly simple. Just grate some potato and onion. Put all the gratings into a clean tea towel and squeeze as much water out of them as you can. Put the dry potato and onion into a bowl and add some melted butter and lots of black pepper. The rosti can be cooked as lots of little hash browns or as a single big cake. The secret is to cook very slowly so the potato is cooked through by the time you have a glorious golden crust.

Next we made a citrus lamb stew with a hunk of lamb rump. Again it was simple to prepare. Cut the lamb into bite size chunks, add to a casserole dish with a tin of good quality Italian tomatoes, a bay leaf or two, some thyme sprigs, lots of black pepper, a chopped onion, a chopped carrot or two and the juice and zest from some citrus fruit. We usually go for something sweet like an orange as well as something sour like a lemon or lime. Add some water (or stock) if it looks like you don’t have enough sauce.

Most recipes usually get you to brown the meat, and if we were making this at home we definitely would, but when we’re camping we tend to just chuck everything together and throw it into the oven. It needs long slow cooking until everything is tender and the sauce has thickened. While we waited, it was a good time to go for a long walk up to the Purple Peak Saddle and drink in the view.

On this particular camping trip, just as the stew finished cooking, the clouds descended right down. We ate our stew with our backs against the car, out of the wind, in the complete white silence you get inside a cloud. It was a magical experience, but it was also great to have something so hearty and warm to eat!

For dessert we made a classic Kiwi choccy self-saucing pudding. We had mixed together all the dry ingredients at home and then added the wet ingredients just before we cooked it. We didn’t even bother dishing this onto our plates. We sat round the casserole dish, that had earlier held our lamb stew (we did wash it in between), and all dug in with spoons, even the five year old and three year old—loving every bite! I thought after the rosti and the lamb stew we might not eat all the pudding, but it disappeared quickly, despite it being straight from the oven. When you’re outdoors, the hunger really does kick in. By this time the cloud had lifted and we could see all the way down the valley to the bay below and the Pacific Ocean out to the horizon.

The prep time for our three course dinner was minimal and while cooking each course did take a while, we had a lovely view to look at and walks to do. Dinner cooked away by itself and we engaged ourselves with enjoying the great outdoors (and telling the kids not to track huge amounts of grass through our tent).

That night we all went to sleep happy, and with full bellies!

Summerfields Foods

207 Waimairi Road, Ilam, Christchurch

open 11am-7pm Tues – Sat

[email protected]

ph 03 357 0067

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