South Islanders of New Zealand have a quiet sense of pride for Central Otago. Defined by rolling hills, snowcapped mountains and a network of interconnected rivers, the region has come to symbolize, both domestically and abroad, the natural beauty of New Zealand’s rich interior. On the slopes of the Pisa Range massif, just 15 minutes from Queenstown under the shade of the Southern Alps, Amisfield winery is helping to promote Otago as a premier wine-making capital of the world.
At 200 hectares, Amisfield is the largest single-estate winemaker in the region, and produces a pinot noir to rival the renown of the Marlborough region’s famous sauvignon blanc. Just over a decade running, the winery, alongside its connecting vineyard, has built a reputation for showcasing the distinct terroir of Central Otago, a “grown, not made, philosophy” that’s also helped define Amisfield’s award-winning bistro, overlooking the estate. The menu here rotates with the seasons, filled with local ingredients that speak volumes for the quality of Otago and South Island produce. One of the bistro’s most beloved dishes is the four-hour-roasted Cardona Merino lamb shoulder; at Amisfield the meat comes from a third-generation farmer, Ben Dugdale, out of Wanaka, just an hour-long drive from the kitchen.
Editor’s Note: The following recipe comes courtesy of Amisfield: Food, Wine and Stories from Central Otago. Units of measurement have been left in the metric system, though temperature has been converted to degrees Fahrenheit for ease. $46
Slow-Roasted Cardrona Merino Lamb Shoulder
Ingredients: Serves 6–8
3kg lamb shoulder, bone in
Sea salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
Chili flakes to taste
2 carrots, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 bulbs garlic, cut in half
1 handful of rosemary
500mL Amisfield pinot noir
2 lemons, cut into quarters
1. Preheat the oven to 300°F.
2. Season the lamb shoulder generously with salt, pepper and chili flakes.
3. Place in a deep roasting pan.
4. Add all the other ingredients to the pan and cover with baking paper and aluminum foil, making sure to seal the edges well.
5. Roast the shoulder in the oven for 4 hours. Then remove the baking paper and lamb shoulder and increase the temperature to 390ºF.
6. Baste the lamb for 5 minutes and return the lamb, uncovered, to the hot oven for another 10 minutes or until the skin has turned golden brown.
7. Baste the shoulder again until the braising liquid thickens and the shoulder looks glossy.
8. Remove the shoulder from the tray and rest.
9. Strain the braising liquid into a small saucepan.
10. Allow the braising liquid to settle, then skim the fat while still warm.
11. Serve the shoulder with the braising liquid and garnish with herbs (a sprig each of rosemary, thyme, oregano, mint, or whatever is in season).