This dish originated from our first trip to New Zealand. This trip was unforgettable, because not only are the scenery so amazing and mesmerising that they seemed photoshopped, but we also got engaged there, at Milford Sound! It was so incredible! Anyway, natural of us, we ate our hearts out, together with one of best friends who came along with us. We ate plenty of delicious foods in this beautiful country. However, there was one dish that left such a great impact on us and also made us realise how fresh and exquisite lamb truly is in New Zealand. The usually gamy taste of a lamb is almost absent or just so subtle in a New Zealand produce, it’s almost like eating an extra tender beef steak.
On recollection, it was a day when we flew to Auckland from Queenstown, which sadly got delayed. We then later drove 3 hours towards our destination, Rotorua. And oh boy! The smell! People did warn us several times about it, but it was nothing like what we could imagine. The smell of eggy fart lingered wherever we were, including our accommodation. As you can see, it wasn’t a great day to begin with and for a moment, we were almost regretting finishing the trip up in the North. However, our pessimistic view was quickly eradicated , when we headed to “Eat Street” (Tutanekai Street) and took our first bite at Atticus Finch restaurant, which was an accidental stumble. For the next 3 nights at Rotorua, we dined at Atticus Finch repeatedly. By the end of it, we have already tried all their main share plates on their menu. There was one share plate in particular we would always order again every night, and it was the Spiced Rubbed Lamb Rump. We just loved it SO much, that on our last night there, we each ordered one large share plate of the lamb rump for ourselves and had 3 additional share plates for us to share, i.e. we each had 2 large share plates. So fat and full, but NO REGRETS! We highly recommend this place, however, we realised they do change their menus, so we don’t even know if we can ever have it again if we go back! Regardless, we have no doubt that whatever they come up with, it’s going to taste great!
When we got back to Melbourne, we missed New Zealand SO MUCH, and we missed the lamb dish SO MUCH. So much, that we decided we have to try replicating it. We knew the main ingredients, it was just the portions we had to experiment on!
There are times, we would make the dish with lamb cutlets instead, mainly when we feel like it or if the butcher has no lamb rump at all. We found out that lamb rump/chump is not such a popular cut, but luckily we have Canning’s Butcher near us to kindly chop us the cuts.
We normally like to rip/trim the fat off the lamb rump, and using the excess fat and the thin fatty layers for rendering prior to the searing.
There are a few elements to this dish, so make sure to manage your time well, so that by the time you plate and serve, every element is still nice and warm. Our strategy is to prepare the vegetables, most of the purée, finish the crème and olives, all whilst the rump is resting or before the lamb is in the oven. Vegetables then get cooked when lamb is roasting in the oven, and when lamb is out of oven and resting, finish up with the seasoning of the purée and heat it up again, so that it is still nice and warm when served.
Roasting the capsicum allows you to easily remove the skin, and don’t worry about the capsicum skin going black, that’s normal. For tomatoes, we personally prefer the mini roma tomatoes, because they are more suitable for sauces, little to no seeds, and also has a sweeter taste. Dealing with them can be a little be trickier for this dish. You want to slice them in halves but slightly diagonally, so that you can cut off the stem end. This allows easier removal of the skin. After a few minutes of simmering, they should be very easy to peel off. This is a good time to practice your chopsticks! Otherwise, using a fork or tong can do the job. Also, if your blender doesn’t do a good job, sift the mixture to get rid of the rough lumpy parts.
Personally, for lamb rump, we try to aim for an internal temperature of 60°C before serving, this is achieved by taking it out of the oven around 56°C and letting it rest for 10 minutes.
Oh yea, FYI, our sauce plating. Note: we washed A LOT of dishes after many tries of splatting the purée. Oh boy, truly don’t know how professionals do it so easily!!