Maverick Life


Get ambitious with your home cooking with Luke Dale-Roberts’ ‘The Test Kitchen’

Get ambitious with your home cooking with Luke Dale-Roberts’ ‘The Test Kitchen’
Luke Dale-Roberts’ ‘The Test Kitchen’. Image: Supplied / The Reading List

In ‘The Test Kitchen’, Luke Dale-Roberts celebrates the legacy of his legendary restaurant, and shares some of its most beloved and iconic recipes.

In 2011, Time magazine pinpointed 24 November 2010 as the day “Woodstock officially became Cape Town’s hottest district… when Luke Dale-Roberts opened The Test Kitchen there”. 

Opening a fine-dining restaurant in a warehouse space in the Old Biscuit Mill was a gamble, but after a four-year tenure as executive chef of La Colombe, which culminated in 12th place on the S Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, Dale-Roberts was up to the challenge.

The Test Kitchen gave Dale-Roberts the opportunity to innovate, showcasing his creativity with flavours and ingredients, and it operated for 11 years, winning numerous local and international awards, and leaving a lasting legacy.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Taking pot luck with Luke Dale Roberts’ new Jozi venture

In Memory of Sunday Roast

Lamb rump, lamb gravy jelly, essence of roast potato, num-num jam, mint gel

Serves 8


Lamb Rump

2 x 250g lamp rumps

Maldon salt to taste

150–200ml canola oil

4 sprigs rosemary

4 cloves garlic

30ml butter


Num-num Jam

150g Granny Smith apple, diced

5g orange peel, chopped

400g very ripe num-num berries (alternatively use cranberries)

100g freshly squeezed 

orange juice

50g glucose

100g elderflower cordial 

(see p. 478)

20g pectin

25g castor sugar


Essence of Roast Potato

500g Nicola potatoes, peeled

100ml melted lamb fat 


Lamb Gravy jelly

500g lamb bones

1 large carrot, finely diced

1 onion, finely diced

1 leek, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, finely diced

2 plum tomatoes, diced

2 sprigs rosemary

1 sprig thyme

splash of canola oil

100ml muscadel

400ml port base (see p. 454)

400ml lamb stock (see p. 453)

1½ leaves gelatine


Mint Gel 

½ leaf gelatine

25ml sherry vinegar

25ml water

15g honey

5g picked mint

salt to taste



3 sprigs rosemary, picked


Specialist Equipment: 

Sous-vide machine, vacuum sealer, blender, drum sieve, muslin cloth, hand blender, piping bag, deep-fryer


Lamb Rump

Set a sous-vide machine to 58°C. 

Season the lamb rumps well with Maldon salt and place both into a vacuum pack bag with 100ml canola oil, 2 sprigs rosemary and 2 cloves garlic. Sous vide for six hours. Once cooked, plunge the bag into ice water to stop any further cooking.

Just before service, heat the oven to 220°C. 

Add as much of the remaining canola oil as needed to a hot pan. Once the oil is hot, sear and caramelise the lamb rumps well on all sides to a dark golden brown. Add the butter and the rest of the rosemary and garlic and coat the lamb in the pan juices. 

Put the lamb in the oven for two minutes to heat through. Leave to rest for one minute before carving each rump into four equal-sized slices. 


Num-num Jam

Place all the ingredients into a medium pot and cook for 20 to 30 minutes with the lid on, stirring occasionally with a spatula. Now remove the lid and continuously stir until thickened, then empty the contents of the pot into a blender and blitz very briefly to just break up the num-nums.

Strain through a drum sieve and store in a sterilised glass jar.


Essence of Roast Potato

Place the potatoes into a pot of cold water, bring to the boil and cook until soft. 

Heat the oven to 190°C and line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

Using a fine grater and grating with long strokes, evenly grate the potatoes over the lined tray. Cover the grated potato with the melted lamb fat and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until crisp and golden. Allow to cool before breaking into shards.


Lamb Gravy Jelly

Heat the oven to 200°C and roast the lamb bones on a roasting tray for about 30 minutes until dark golden brown. Drain off and discard any excess fat.

Meanwhile, in a pot over medium heat, fry the diced vegetables and herbs in a splash of canola oil until caramelised. Deglaze the pot with the muscadel and allow the alcohol to reduce by half.

Add the roasted lamb bones, port base and lamb stock to the pot and leave to reduce over low heat to approximately 300ml of liquid. Strain through muslin.

Bloom the gelatine in ice water until softened, then squeeze out and stir into the warm liquid. 

Line a small tray with clingfilm and lightly grease with cooking spray. Pour in the jelly liquid to about 2mm deep and set in the fridge, then portion into 10cm x 3cm rectangles. Leave in the fridge until service.


Mint Gel

Bloom the gelatine in ice water until softened, then squeeze out. 

Bring the sherry vinegar, water and honey to the boil in a small pot. Whisk in the gelatine until melted and then remove from the heat. Set in the fridge for one hour.

Just before service, add the picked mint and blend using a hand blender until the gel is bright green and the mint is fully incorporated. Season with salt to taste and store in a piping bag.



Set a deep-fryer to 160°C and fry the rosemary leaves until crisp but still green. Drain on paper towel.

Swipe a tablespoon of num-num jam around a hot plate, creating a perfect circle to frame the dish. 

Inside the circle on the left-hand side, plate a slice of lamb rump. 

Lean a shard of potato against the lamb and garnish with fried rosemary leaves.

Pipe five dots of mint gel opposite the lamb rump, making each dot smaller than the next. 

Finish by placing a lamb gravy jelly on top of the slice of lamb rump. The residual heat will melt the jelly. DM

The Test Kitchen by Luke Dale-Roberts is published by Penguin Random House SA (R1 500). Visit The Reading List for South African book news – including recipes! – daily.


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