Helen Lewis mug, Staff note, 9/27/21

Helen Lewis, Managing Editor

I’m supposed to write about my favorite Thanksgiving recipe — but since Australia has no Thanksgiving, I didn’t form the childhood November-food attachments I’d need for that. 

I don’t like turkey and I don’t like pumpkin pie, so I am going to launch a little campaign to promote roast lamb, chips-and-gravy and pavlova as alternatives. 
Don’t fight me. I’ll give you recipes, even though they’re not mine:

Slow-Roasted Lamb Shoulder

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 lb (about 10) chat potatoes, large potatoes halved
1 garlic bulb, skin on, bruised
11 oz. cider
4 dried bay leaves
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, chopped
2 bunches (baby) Dutch carrots, blanched
2 tablespoons honey
3.75lb lamb shoulder (bone in)
2 bunches rosemary

1. Preheat the oven to 320°F. Arrange half the rosemary over the base of a roasting pan. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large, non-stick frypan over high heat. Add lamb shoulder and cook for 4 minutes each side or until golden brown. Add the potatoes to the pan. Cook, turning potatoes once, for a further 4 minutes.

2. Add garlic, cider and 2 cups water and bring to the boil, then transfer to prepared roasting pan. Cover with remaining rosemary, and dot butter evenly over the lamb and potatoes. Cover with baking paper and then a layer of foil. Roast for 3-4 hours until very tender. Remove and rest, still covered with foil, for 40 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, increase oven to 400°F. Place the carrots on 2 baking paper-lined baking trays and drizzle with honey and remaining 1/4 cup (60ml) oil. Season. Roast for 10 minutes or until golden.
4. Serve the lamb with vegetables and pan juices.

Note: It is way harder to get good lamb here than in Australia, where it’s ubiquitous — but I know Frost Livestock Co. and Ranch Foods Direct sell some of the best.

Next: pavlova! You can see one in this video: 

Pavlova is a dessert named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, created either during or after one of her tours to Australia and New Zealand in the 1920s. Wikipedia will tell you “the nationality of its creator has been a source of argument between the two nations for many years.” I will tell you it was invented by an Australian.

Pavlova is sometimes an adventure (hair-raising challenge) even for the seasoned pavlova-maker, and even at sea level, but here goes: 


​6 eggs, separated
1¼ cups caster sugar (that’s fine sugar, not confectioner’s sugar)
2 teaspoons cornflour (that’s cornstarch)
1 teaspoon white vinegar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
10 oz. thickened cream
2 tablespoons pure icing sugar, sifted (THAT is confectioner’s sugar)
Finely shredded rind of 2 limes
3 golden kiwifruit, peeled, thinly sliced
2 starfruit, thinly sliced
Pulp of 2-3 passionfruit 

1. Preheat oven to 250°F. Line an oven tray with foil. Brush with melted butter and dust with cornflour, shaking off excess. Mark a 9.5 inch-diameter circle on foil.

2. Use an electric mixer to whisk egg whites in a clean dry bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating well after each addition, until meringue is thick and glossy and sugar dissolved. Rub a little meringue between fingers. If still "gritty" with sugar, continue to whisk until sugar dissolves. Add cornflour, vinegar and vanilla and whisk until just combined. Spoon meringue onto the foil, using the marked circle as a guide. Smooth sides and top of pavlova. Use a small spatula to form little peaks around edge of pavlova. Bake for 1½ hours or until pavlova is dry to the touch. Turn off oven. Leave pavlova in oven with the door ajar to cool completely. When completely cold, transfer to serving plate or store in an airtight container until required.

3. Use an electric mixer to whisk the cream and icing sugar in a medium bowl until firm peaks form. Spoon cream onto the top of pavlova. Decorate pavlova with kiwifruit, starfruit, passionfruit and lime rind. 

There’s no recipe for chips and gravy. Get chips (fries — thick, not shoestring). Pour gravy on them (real beef gravy). The end.

— Staff notes originally run in our daily email newsletter, Indy Now, along with news updates, photos of the day, a weekly poll and more. Sign up below.