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Recipe: Zoe Adjonyoh’s Lamb Cutlets with Peanut Sauce

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Named as “one to watch” by Nigel Slater and one of “London’s hottest chefs” by Time Out London, Zoe Adjonyoh is worth keeping your eyes (and mouths) open for.

Since shooting to fame with her sell-out supper clubs in 2011, Zoe has been educating London on the depth, soul and flavour of Ghana’s cuisine in her incredible Brixton-based restaurant Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen, whilst also releasing a masterpiece of a cookbook of the same name.

Today she’s sharing her favourite recipe as part of our celebration of Severn Sisters Feast – an event celebrating female cooking talent under the arches of Borough Market, where she’ll be one of 11 talented female chefs cooking up the menu.

Zoe says: “Groundnut Soup is my all time favourite comfort food – as a standalone one pot soup or stew it tastes like your throat and stomach are being hugged with every mouthful – Adapted into an accompanying sauce as it is here, it just lifts every plate with some extraordinarily powerful flavour profiles.”

We caught up with her prior to the event to find out a little more about her and her love of food.

What does food mean to you?
“Food is more than sustenance, it’s about sharing, it’s showing love and discovery.”

What was your earliest or most impactful memory of food?
“It has to be tasting Kenkey for the first time off my dad’s plate when I was 8 or 9 years old. I had too big a-dollop of shito hot pepper sauce – that heady combination of fermented maize dough and super spicy smoked prawn flavour was unlike anything I’d eaten before and sparked my interest in Ghanaian food and cooking…”

Why is it important to you to provide a platform for female talent?
“Women in food, as in most industry’s, are for the most part sidelined in favour of the macho image of the male ‘chef’ in the media. This event is about celebrating just a handful of amazing food creators and innovators in the food industry and chipping away at that glass ceiling, hopefully showing off just how many women contribute to the food landscape in this country and with any luck, inspiring more women to get involved too.”

What advice would you give to your younger self and what advice would you give to other women looking to get into the industry?
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help and gain experience – the industry is a lot more generous than you might think and why not benefit from the shared experiences of other women in the industry?”

Recipe: Zoe Adjonyoh’s Lamb Cutlets with Peanut Sauce

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WRITTEN By:
Maria Bell

Maria Bell is a photographer and editor from the Isle of Wight. Talk to her about food and/or photography and she'll always be listening.

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ingredients

8 lamb cutlets or chops, about 2cm (¾ inch) thick

1 quantity Peanut Sauce (see recipe below)

 

MARINADE

3 tablespoons rapeseed oil or groundnut oil

2.5cm (1-inch) piece fresh root ginger, finely grated (unpeeled if organic)

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon crushed sea salt

1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

CHALE SAUCE:

400g (14oz) can tomatoes or 250g (9oz) fresh tomatoes

30g (1oz) or 2 tablespoons tomato purée

1 onion, roughly chopped

5cm (2-inch) piece fresh root ginger, grated (unpeeled if organic)

1 red Scotch Bonnet chilli, deseeded

1 tablespoon dried chilli flakes

1 teaspoon sea salt

3 garlic cloves (optional)

TO COOK

1 tablespoon sunflower oil

1 onion, finely diced

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 teaspoon extra-hot chilli powder

 

PEANUT SAUCE

1 tablespoon groundnut oil

1 onion, finely diced

1 tablespoon extra-hot chilli powder

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 garlic clove, crushed

5cm (2-inch) piece fresh root ginger, grated (unpeeled if organic)

1 red Scotch Bonnet chilli, pierced

3 tablespoons crushed roasted peanuts

2 teaspoons sea salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 500ml (18fl oz) uncooked Chalé Sauce

500ml (18fl oz) good-quality vegetable stock (you can use chicken or beef stock if adding the sauce to a meat dish)

100–200g (3½ –7oz) organic peanut butter, depending on how thick you want the sauce

8 green  kpakpo shito (cherry) chillies, or substitute green habanero chillies

 

TO GARNISH

a few roughly chopped roasted peanuts sprinkle of finely sliced spring onion

Image: Nassima Rothacker

1.

Place the lamb cutlets or chops in a dish. Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a bowl, pour over the lamb and rub the mixture thoroughly into the meat, coating it all over. If you have time, cover the dish with clingfilm and leave to marinate in the fridge for 1 hour.

2.

Meanwhile, make the chalé sauce by placing all the ingredients except the ‘to cook’ ones in a blender and blend together until you have a fairly smooth paste. This is your uncooked chalé sauce. For cooked chalé sauce, heat the oil in a heavy-based saucepan, add the onion and sauté over a medium heat for a few minutes until softened. Then add the curry powder and chilli powder and stir thoroughly to coat the onion evenly. Add the blended tomato mixture and simmer gently for 35–40 minutes.

 

3.

After this,prepare the peanut sauce by heating the groundnut oil in a heavy-based saucepan, add the onion and sauté over a medium heat for 2 minutes. Stir in the chilli powder and curry powder, then add the garlic, ginger, Scotch Bonnet, crushed peanuts, sea salt and black pepper and stir well – lots of punchy aroma should be rising from the pot at this point. Stir in the chalé sauce and vegetable stock and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15–20 minutes.

4.

Add the peanut butter 1 tablespoon at a time, while stirring, until it has all dissolved, then use a stick blender to blend all the ingredients to a smooth consistency.

5.

Add the whole kpakpo shito chillies to the sauce and leave to simmer over a low heat for at least a further 30 minutes before serving, or leave to cool and then store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Alternatively, freeze for future use.

6.

Take the lamb out of the fridge and leave it to return to room temperature for a few minutes while you heat a griddle pan over a high heat until very hot. Add the lamb cutlets or chops – they should sizzle on contact – and then reduce the heat slightly. Cook the meat without disturbing it (see Tip below), allowing it to sear evenly and obtain even griddle marks, then flip and repeat. (If you move the meat around during the cooking process, it will be likely to stick to the pan and won’t cook evenly.)

7.

Remove the lamb from the pan and leave to rest for 1 minute before transferring to warmed serving plates. Pour 1–2 tablespoons of the peanut sauce over each of the cutlets or chops, then add a little garnish of chopped roasted peanuts and finely sliced spring onion. Serve with rice and Simple Fried Plantain (see recipe below), with a green salad on the side.

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