Lamb with Charcoal Cream

This dish was invented so that we could try putting hot coals into cream to get an authentically smoky favour. We tried it and it turned out to be one of our favourite dishes of the year.

The lamb

You will need 1½kg lamb loin chops. Our favourite butchery had some wonderful Karoo lamb chops, which were ideal for this recipe.


  • 1 teaspoon garlic, crushed
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • A handful parsley, chopped
  • 6 anchovy fillets, chopped
  • ½ cup good olive oil

Mix all the marinade ingredients together and add the lamb chops. Marinate overnight if you can, or for a minimum of an hour. Cook over medium coals until nicely browned with the fat rendered and the lamb still pink and succulent in the middle.

The potatoes

A simple accompaniment to the lamb, they are crispy and crunchy with soft fluffy centres. Place the potatoes on a baking tray with a good glug of olive oil. Toss the potatoes to coat with oil, and sprinkle with rosemary and salt. Bake in a medium oven (180°C) for 30 – 40 minutes until browned and crispy.

The cream

The exciting part of our experiment was to burn some hardekool wood (leadwood in English, but not usually advertised as such) to use in our cream to make a smoky sauce. We used hardekool firstly because it burns really hot, and secondly because we could add it to our cream without the possibility of poisoning someone. Hardekool is tricky to light and so it’s best to go ‘old school’ with balls of paper and lots kindling to light the fire and keep it going until the big, heavy logs catch alight. Start your fire early as it takes a while to burn down to hot coals. The benefit of using this wood is that the fire lasts for a long time.

For the sauce add a few hot coals to 500ml of cream. Infuse for at least ½ hour and then strain through a fine sieve into a saucepan. Add 2 teaspoons of vinegar and stir over the heat until thickened. Serve with the lamb and potatoes.

The Gardener