Karena and Kasey’s Matariki menu

Each year Karena and Kasey Bird celebrate Matariki by waking up early to watch Matariki rise, and of course, gather together with whānau to share a meal.

The previous New Zealand Masterchef winners love hosting big whānau get-togethers around the dinner table – and this year the duo will be serving something a little special. Along with Silver Fern Farms, they’ve created a new lamb recipe especially for Matariki celebrations. 

Here they share their recipe Mānuka Smoked Lamb Leg with Green Lip Mussel Salsa and Kūmara and Watercress Gratin recipe that will get whole family talking, plus their top tips on hosting a Matariki dinner.

Top tips for hosting a Matariki dinner:

  1. Our top tip for cooking lamb is firstly the better quality the lamb is, the more tender it will be to eat! Take it out of the fridge so it has time to come to room temperature before cooking it, this will vary depending on the size of the lamb. Also, dry the meat before seasoning to remove excess moisture and always leave to rest before slicing.
  2. Prep as much as you can beforehand. With our lamb dish we will already have the mussel sauce ready and waiting in the fridge before anyone arrives. The lamb can already be smoked and then warmed through in the oven just before guests arrive, so you have lots of time to relax and socialise.
  3. If you prefer not to use dairy, coconut cream works just as well in the kūmara gratin. Make sure to let is sit and rest for 5-10 minutes once it is out of the oven to let it cool and set.
  4. We like to carve the lamb at the table and put all of the sides in the middle. This is the perfect time to sit and share food, family style.

Mānuka Smoked Lamb Leg with Green Lip Mussel Salsa and Kūmara and Watercress Gratin
Created by Karena and Kasey Bird for Silver Fern Farms


  • 1 x Silver Fern Farms Lamb leg

For the marinade:

  • 1 ½ tbspn honey (melted)
  • 1 ½ tbspn brown sugar
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp crushed black pepper
  • 4 tbspn olive oil

To smoke:

  • Fish smoker
  •  ¾ cup Mānuka wood chips

For the Kūmara gratin:

  • 6 small orange Kūmara, thinly sliced
  • 500ml fresh cream
  • 2 cups watercress, chopped
  • ½ onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ¾ cup grated cheese
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper

For the salsa:

  • 8 steamed mussels, roughly chopped
  • 2 tsp dijon
  • 2 tsp honey
  • ⅓ cup fresh herbs, finely chopped (we used chives, parsely and mint)
  • 5 small cornichons, diced
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 3 tbspn red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbspn water
  • Salt and pepper to your liking


For the Lamb:

  1. Preheat oven to 200°C.
  2. Mix together all of the ingredients for the marinade. Dry the lamb leg off, place in a roasting dish and pour over the marinade.
  3. Add a small amount of water to the bottom of the roasting tray and roast for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  4. To smoke the lamb, prepare your fish smoker as usual and place the woodchips in the bottom of the smoker. Smoke for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and rest for 15 minutes.

For the Kūmara Gratin:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175°C.
  2. Whisk together the cream, garlic, salt and pepper.
  3. Set a portion of the cheese aside to sprinkle over the top at the end. In an oven dish, layer a quarter of the Kūmara, then watercress and cheese. Keep repeating until the dish is full and finish with one layer of Kūmara. Pour over the cream mix and finish with cheese. Bake for 40 minutes or until the Kūmara is tender.

For the Green Lip Mussel Salsa:

  1. Mix together all of the ingredients to make the salsa and season to your liking. Serve with the lamb.
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