I’m a champion channel surfer. I’m sure this is an extremely irritating habit. Fortunately Merlot doesn’t mind. As long as she can sit on my lap, I can hop around like the Easter bunny.

I recently landed on a programme about American women who have the hots for blokes in prison. Now we all have our little oddities, so I hardly think any of us can judge. This did get me thinking about one’s last meal though.

I can’t imagine that I’d have much of an appetite if I knew it was my actual last meal. But as long as it remains theoretical, contemplating my menu selection is quite fun.

My last-meal list is long. Champagne, gigantic Mozambique prawns, melkkos, vetkoek with home-made apricot jam and sushi all make the cut. And pasta, of course.

I think I get this from my gran. A Ceronio of Italian descent, she thought it a mighty fine idea to settle down on a farm… with a Van der Merwe. I imagine she learnt quite quickly not to name the farm animals. Probably not the best idea to get too friendly with the Sunday roast. Leg of lamb was indeed obligatory every Sunday.

But my favourite, favourite was the pasta sauce she made with the other, less glamorous, bits of the lamb. Slow cooking it for at least an hour with white wine and bacon, then thickening it right at the end with the yolk of an egg, with a generous handful of parsley thrown in and lemon to cut through all that richness. She made it 50 years ago and I make it still. I think that’s just grand.

All you need is…

600g boneless lamb, fat trimmed off and diced (shoulder works nicely, and so does knuckle)
4 rashers bacon, diced
2 tbs lard (I consider this essential, it just does not taste the same without it – but olive oil will do if need be)
1 onion, chopped
2 tbs flour
100ml dry white wine
1 lamb stock cube dissolved in 300ml boiling water (if you want to push the boat out, use Nomu’s lamb Fond, it’s expensive, but ever so much nicer)
2 egg yolks
juice of one large lemon
3 tbs chopped Italian parsley
salt and black pepper, to taste

Fry lamb in melted lard until golden brown. Add the onion and bacon and fry for a further two minutes. Sprinkle over the flour and cook, while stirring, for a further 2 minutes.

Add the wine, and boil for a minute, then add the stock. Bring to the boil, cover and cook over a low heat for an hour (if you are using a cheaper, tougher cut or mutton, you will need to cook it longer – just remember low heat is the key).

Stir occasionally and if too much liquid evaporates, add more water. You want to end up with about 300ml liquid. Just before serving, beat together the egg yolks, lemon juice and parsley and stir 2 tbs of the cooking liquid into the egg mix. Then add this mixture to the lamb, stirring constantly over a very low heat until the egg has thickened the sauce. Do not allow it to boil!

Taste and adjust the salt and add a generous grinding of black pepper. Serve immediately with pappardelle pasta or any other pasta of your choice. I like scattering some extra parsley on top, just for the pretty. And for those who like it really tangy, I serve some lemon wedges on the side.

serves

4

prep

20 min

cook

60 min

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good to know

Gremolata

For a taste explosion, you can serve this with gremolata on the side. Traditionally it’s just parsley, lemon zest and a clove of garlic, all finely chopped and mixed together.

For this recipe I’d leave the garlic out, and maybe add a teaspoon or two of chopped fresh marjoram to add a decidedly Roman touch.

enjoy with

My choice for this dish is the uniquely South African cultivar, Pinotage. This grape is a cross between the temperamental Pinot Noir grape and Cinsaut (aka Hermitage) hence the name.

It’s fruity, low on tannin and medium bodied. Try the one from Allée Bleue, it’s a good-value buy.

Pinotage

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