Neil Perry’s barbequed butterflied lamb leg with cumin, lemongrass and ginger, Italian-style coleslaw and vine-ripened tomato salad

Serves: 4

I pulled this recipe collection from The Good Weekend magazine in 2010 and only managed to get around to cooking it last night.

It is a real, Friday-night treat. Marinate the lamb during the day, pull it out of the fridge when you get home, get the grill clean and hot and whilst chargrilling the lamb, prepare the really simple and elegant salads.

With a glass of red, this is – and was – a great way to say hello to the weekend.



1 lamb leg (about 2kg) butterflied
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 lemongrass stems, peeled and sliced into fine rounds
3cm piece fresh ginger, chopped
2 tsp roasted cumin seeds, half crushed to a powder, the rest whole
1 tsp sea salt
3 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
3 tbsp chopped mint
¼ c extra virgin olive oil
Freshly cracked pepper
Lemon wedges to serve


1 baby cabbage or half Savoy cabbage, finely shredded
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to season
Extra virgin olive oil
Red wine vinegar
Shaved parmesan

Tomato salad

4 vine-ripened tomatoes, cut into chunks
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to season
Extra virgin olive oil
Balsamic vinegar



  1. To make the marinade, put the garlic, lemongrass, ginger, cumin and salt in a motar and pound into a rough paste in the pestle. Add the herbs and pound for a further minute then stir in the olive oil and mix well. (You can also process in a food processor but don’t make too smooth a paste.) Spread the marinade evenly over the butterflied lamb and leave in the fridge for at least an hour to infuse, remember that the lamb need to be removed from the fridge an hour prior to cooking.
  2. Preheat the BBQ medium-high. Cook the lamb for about 6-8 minutes per side depending on your preference of rare to medium-rare. Remove and cover with foil. Rest for 10 minutes.
  3. Carve the lamb into 5mm slices and arrange on 4 plates, pouring over any of the resting juices onto the slices of lamb. Give a good grind of pepper, place a lemon wedge on each plate and serve immediately… with the…

Italian-style coleslaw

  1. Finely shred the cabbage.
  2. Put in a large bowl and season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
  3. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar over, at a ratio of three parts oil to one part vinegar. Start to toss the cabbage ensuring that it doesn’t become wet and only moist.
  4. Toss through the shaved parmesan – the more the better people – and serve… with the…

Vine-ripened tomato salad

  1. Season the cut tomatoes with salt and pepper and drizzle with the extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar and serve immediately… with…
  2. A bottle of red wine!

Chicken Yakitori Skewers

Serves: 2

This is a great dish with a really unique, Japanese-BBQ style of sauce.

Really easy to prepare served with rice.

Remember to soak the bamboo skewers in water for 15 minutes before threading the meat.


¼ cup sake
¼ cup Japanese soy sauce
2 tbsp mirin (rice wine)
2 tbsp caster sugar
6 chicken thigh fillets, cut into 2cm pieces
Ground white pepper to taste
2 green onions (spring onion), trimmed, cut into 2cm pieces
6 fresh shiitake mushrooms, halved
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 green onion, extra, thinly sliced diagonally


  1. Combine the sake, soy sauce, mirin and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally for 2-3 minutes or until the sauce thickens slightly. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  2. Combine the chicken and half the sauce in a bowl. Season with ground white pepper. Place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  3. Thread chicken, green onion and mushrooms alternately onto the skewers. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the skewers to the pan and cook for 6 minutes or until cooked through.
  4. Transfer to a platter and spring with extra green onion. Serve immediately with the remaining sauce.

Middle Eastern Beef and Parsley kebabs

 Serves: 4 – 6

What a cracker; serve this with a full accompaniment of Lebanese sides and dips – as we did for the boys whilst up the coast on a recent holiday – and all your mince wishes will have been granted.


1kg extra lean beef mince
2 tbsp butter
1 x fresh parsley, minced
2 onions, chopped finely
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper (if you have seasoned/flavoured pepper, by all means)
Wood grilling skewers, soaked in water


  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and carefully form long tubes of the mixture around the skewers, between 2 – 3cm in thickness. Pack tight so that the mince does not fall off easily.
  2. Heat a grill high and cook about 2 minutes a side until chargrilled and cooked through.
  3. Serve with freshly made hommus.

Penang Beef Satay

Serves: 4 as part of a meal

The great thing about this recipe is that because you have to let it marinate over night, it has weeknight written all over it.

Prepare it after dinner on Sunday, pop it covered in the fridge, Monday morning, put your skewers in water and Monday night… fire up the grill to hot, thread your meat loosely, cook up some rice, chop up a few cucumbers and there you have the best Monday night dinner in the street.

How good is that!


4 spring onions
½ c unsalted peanuts
2 tbsp (Malaysian) curry powder
½ c thick milk from milk powder
½ c coconut cream
2 tbsp fish sauce
½ tsp turmeric
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 Rump steak, cut into thin strips
Sweet chilli sauce to serve


  1. Process in a food processor all the ingredients except the steak and sweet chilli sauce and marinate the steak overnight.
  2. Thread the steak onto soaked bamboo skewers, grill and serve with the sweet chilli sauce.

Whole Fish with Roast Capsicum and Chilli Butter

 Serves: 4

I typed this recipe up a few years back though haven’t made it since.

Next weekend, I will right that wrong.

Using whole ocean trout as your fish – truly the most beautiful fish in the world – and cooked in foil on the BBQ, when fish meets chilli butter and with perhaps some greens and potatoes on the side, something special happens.

Sure, it isn’t quite restaurant fare though it’s certainly bistro fare and it is a great recipe to dip your toe into the ‘cooking whole fish on the BBQ’ trick.

Of course, you could cook the fish in the oven by laying them down on baking paper, cutting two or three slashes into the thick flesh and baking, though I think the BBQ adds to it.


4 whole ocean trout
2 tbs olive oil, plus extra to brush
1 roasted red capsicum (or a jar of chargrilled capsicum, drained)
100gm unsalted butter
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon, plus 1tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp finely chopped coriander leaves
1 small red chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped


  1. Heat the BBQ to medium-hot. Brush the fish with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. By all means, stuff lemon and coriander and garlic and butter and whatever else your grandpa included into the cavity of the fish. Wrap in foil and cook for 10 – 12 minutes, turning once.
  2. Meanwhile, very finely chop the capsicum then place in a small saucepan with the olive oil, butter, lemon zest and juice, coriander, chilli and garlic. Season. Stir over a low heat until butter is melted and well combined. Keep warm.
  3. Serve the fish with the capsicum and chilli butter drizzled on-top.

Andalusian Pork

Serves: 4

What a simple, gutsy dish!

The Spanish certainly do have some fun with their food and after a day marinating and then chargrilled on a really hot grill, this pork is sensational.

And it’s healthy. Ha!

I’ve cooked this and served this a few times over the years though last night it was with eggplant chips, some steamed sugar snaps and a great Bobby Flay Spanish Potato Salad.

A great end to the week and fuel for the start of the new working year. Here is to 2016!


2 tbsp paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried thyme
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp coarse sea salt
1 tbsp olive oil
500g pork fillet, trimmed of any fat
2 lemons, cut into wedges, to serve


  1. Mix the paprika, oregano, garlic and salt with the olive oil to make a thick paste.
  2. Spread the paste evenly over the pork, cover and marinate in the fridge for 24 hours.
  3. Cut the meat on the diagonal, around 2cm thick.
  4. Heat a griddle, heavy frying pan or a grill until very hot. Cook the pork for 3 – 4 minutes on each side until cooked through.
  5. Serve at once with the lemon wedges.

The Tuscan Burger

My last meal? A hamburger of course.

With this Tuscan Burger, read down the ingredients and you can almost taste the pesto with the chargrilled beef and melted bocconcini, the mayonaise and the chargrilled buns.

Hopefully this isn’t your last meal and as my mother is known to say, the recipe shouldn’t kill anyone. But if it does, not a bad way to go.

As always, go for the best, freshest piece of chuck steak you can and get your butcher to mince it on the coarsest cut.


600g freshly ground chuck steak
100g pancetta, rind removed, chopped
1/3 cup (90g) basil pesto
2 small red onions, thickly sliced
2 tbs olive oil
2 small vine-ripened tomatoes, thickly sliced
1/2 cup (150g) whole-egg mayonnaise
3-4 bocconcini, sliced
4 Italian bread rolls, split
50g baby rocket leaves


  1. Place beef, pancetta and 2 tablespoons pesto in a processor. Season with salt and pepper. Pulse until just combined (do not overprocess). Form mixture into 4 patties and chill while you cook the vegetables.
  2. Preheat the oven to 160°C.
  3. Heat a chargrill pan or barbecue over medium heat. Toss onion in a little oil and grill for 1 minute each side or until just cooked. Place in the oven to keep warm.
  4. Brush tomatoes with a little oil and season, then grill for 1 minute each side. Place in the oven to keep warm.
  5. Brush both sides of patties with oil. Cook on chargrill for 2-3 minutes each side until cooked through. Chargrill the bread rolls.
  6. Mix remaining pesto with mayonnaise.
  7. Top patties with cheese and place in oven for 1 minute or until cheese melts.
  8. Spread bread-roll bases with some of the mayonnaise mixture. Top with rocket, patties, onion and tomato. Drizzle with remaining mayonnaise mixture and top with remaining bread-roll halves

Neil Perry’s ‘Hamburger’

Serves 4

Whilst the 2013/2014/2015 Sydney hamburger craze will probably go the direction of the 2013/2014/2015 Sydney dumpling craze, for me at least, it has given me cause to reconsider the roots of a good – a great burger – and what it is all about.

Because if you have a burger at Chur Burger, or Neil Perry’s Burger Project or Sean Connolly’s Parlour Burger (with the one-day viral wonder, the Black Widow Burger), their core burger is about simplicity and quality of ingredient.

And that is perhaps where I have gone astray.

For years, my signature burger dish has been about two things:

  1. The paddy:
    1. 1kg Beef Mince
    1. 1 egg
    1. (Red) online, diced
    1. Handful of parsley, chopped
    1. A number of really good splashes of Worcestershire Sauce (and therefore the flavour)
    1. A heaped teaspoon of Horseradish
    1. Seasoning
  2. The balance:Grilled (BBQ) slices of white toast
    1. Torn cos lettuce
    1. Sliced tomato
    1. Sliced cheddar cheese to melt on the BBQed paddies
    1. Ketchup (not tomato sauce), good egg mayo and American Mustard

And whilst, if really flame grilled over a high heat and served medium-rare, this is a cracker burger, it isn’t the essence of burger. It is like customising mac and cheese when the purity of proper mac and cheese needs no improvement. It is like adding bacon to a Big Mac. There isn’t necessarily a need.

Worst still, I was using crappy mince from the supermarket. And the mince is where the flavour is!

Indeed, reflecting back on all the burgers I have cooked over the years – including the Tuscan Burger than won me a gong at a Wiliam food day – they have all been about stuffing ingredients into the patty. And using crudolla mince.

This burger recipe by Neil Perry is your classic mac and cheese. It will surprise nobody except that freshness of the meat makes the difference. Here, you MUST instruct your butcher to find his finest, most marbled piece of chuck steak. And then to grind it, fresh, on his coarsest setting.

At which point, you need to sprint home to cook it.

Get back to basics, invest in the meat, buy some really good buns (not that crap at Woolies), open a Corona with some lime and eat this bad boy in the sun. Seriously, this is good!

Oh, and if you can BBQ your buns and especially bacon on the BBQ as well, the taste simply gets even better by a factor of 10: Neil Perry says so himself!

I have slightly adjusted his recipe.


1kg of freshly ground chuck steak
½ – ¾ tsp sea salt
Extra virgin olive oil
4 hamburger buns, split and toasted (ideally grilled on the BBQ)
Ketchup, American Mustard and egg mayonnaise
4 slices gruyere (or sliced cheddar if gruyere not on tap)
8 rashes of good bacon
Lettuce and tomato slices
Sliced, picked cucumber (optional)
Freshly ground pepper


  1. The bacon needs to be really, really crispy and this will take time. Depending on timings, start cooking the bacon in a pan or prepare it ready for the BBQ, ensuring that in either event, it is cooked to the point of snapping in two.
  2. Place the meat in a bowl and sprinkle with salt. Mix gentle and divide into 4. Move each portion between your hands for a minute to make a firm, though not overworked patty. Shape into a ball. Gently flatten to form patties around 3cm thick. (If you are refrigerating, cover in cling wrap and ensure that they are bought back to room temperature prior to cooking).
  3. Heat your BBQ (or pan) to very hot. Grill the burger for 2 minutes on one side, flip and another 3 minutes, placing a slice of cheese on top of each paddy for the final minute of cooking. Let the patties rest for 5 minutes and whilst doing so, grill your buns, taking note of your bacon depending on however you are cooking it.
  4. Assemble your bad boy; bottom of bun, mayo and mustard, patty, lettuce and tomato, bacon, ketchup, grind of pepper, top of bun.
  5. Close your eyes and eat.