Lamb and pinot gris perfection

Sam Mannering’s slow-cooked lamb with chilli, soy, ginger and coriander. (Photo: Sam Mannering)

Any mention of slow-cooked lamb has me fossicking around in my cellar in search of a big, well-aged red. There is something about the rich, gelatinousness of fall-off-the-bone braised lamb that demands the sort of wine that might include words such as Bovril, beef tea or even forest-floor in the tasting note.

Slow-cooked lamb with chilli, soy, ginger and coriander is a great dish, made even greater with the help of a crisp and ethereal pinot gris.

I came across an intriguing lamb dish by Sam Mannering in the Canvas section of the Sunday Star Times that encouraged me to break the red wine with red meat guideline. I had decanted a bottle of Malbec-dominant 2018 Esk Valley Heipipi The Terraces, which worked reasonably well but the fragrant aroma of coriander, spring onions, ginger and chilli had me raiding my wine leftovers fried in search for an even better partnership.

A zesty 2020 Paddy Borthwick Chardonnay from Wairarapa out-gunned the Esk Valley red as did a 2020 Dry River Lovat Vineyard Gewürztraminer from Martinborough, although the latter wine verged on overpowering the dish. My favourite match was a crisp, off-dry 2020 Flaxmore Pinot Gris from Nelson which mirrored the sweet-and-sour notes in the dish and helped emphasise its gentle spiciness.

Slow-cooked lamb with chilli, soy, ginger and coriander is a great dish, made even greater with the help of a crisp and ethereal pinot gris.

Slow-cooked lamb with chilli, soy, ginger and coriander

Prep time: 20 minutes, Cook time: 8 hours, Serves 4-6

  • 1 leg of lamb
  • ½ cup of soy sauce
  • ½ cup of Chinese cooking wine (I used Mirin)
  • 3 tbs sesame oil
  • 3-4 cups beef or lamb stock
  • 3 spring onions roughly chopped
  • Fresh ginger root – about enough to cover the palm of your hand
  • Large handful of coriander
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2-3 tbsp Chinese chilli paste to taste


Preheat the oven to 140°C on bake.

Place the lamb in the centre of a large, deep roasting dish. Add the soy sauce, cooking wine, sesame oil, stock, chopped spring onion and about half of the ginger, sliced, to the base of the pan—you want the liquid to come at least halfway up the side of the lamb. Add a little water or extra stock if necessary.

Peel and finely grate the remaining ginger and finely chop the coriander. Combine both in a bowl with the cumin and coriander seeds, and enough chilli paste to taste—about 2 tablespoons should do it, more if you prefer a zing. Use this mixture to spread over the top of the lamb.

Pop some foil lightly over the top, using several layers if necessary, so that everything is securely covered, then place into the oven to bake for at least eight hours. Peep through the door a couple of times if you are impatient like me, and baste the lamb using the surrounding liquid—3 to 4 times should do it.

After eight hours the meat will be absolutely falling off the bone. Give it a quick blast under a hot grill to crisp up the outside, taking care not to let it burn, and then serve as you fancy.

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