A very Pilot Christmas: exclusive recipes from one of Canberra's top restaurants

Pilot has had a heady first year, picking up a hat and being named one of Australia's best new restaurants by several publications. They deserve a break over Christmas, and so do you. Here's their feast fit for family and friends.

Co-owners of Pilot Dash Rumble and Ross Quinn with chef Malcolm Hanslow. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Co-owners of Pilot Dash Rumble and Ross Quinn with chef Malcolm Hanslow. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Head chef Malcolm Hanslow:

This is the type of food that I love to cook for my friends and family when we are all together. Like the menu at Pilot, it takes influences from all over the world, and while each dish has a kind of familiarity to it, I've made them just a bit fancier without being complicated. I recommend that, whenever you can, but especially when cooking for a special occasion, you head down to your local organic market and spend some time with the people who grew the ingredients. It will make the meal all the more special, not to mention delicious, and it'll make for great conversation around the table.

Menu fills a table for 4-6 people.

Barbecued flounder with tomato burre blanc and confit cherry tomatoes. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Barbecued flounder with tomato burre blanc and confit cherry tomatoes. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Flounder with confit cherry tomatoes

What's an Aussie Christmas feast without barbecued seafood? The warmer months are also when tomatoes have the most intense flavour, so although flounder is the protein in this dish, the tomato is the real star. I get my tomatoes from Brightside Produce in Captain's Flat, but organic growers should be flush with tomatoes in the summer so they'll be easy to find. You can find flounder at any good fishmonger.



  • 400-500g whole flounder (gutted, scaled)
  • pinch salt
  • nasturtium leaves

Confit cherry tomatoes:

  • 400g cherry tomatoes
  • 100g extra virgin olive oil
  • 100g vegetable oil
  • 30g sherry vinegar
  • 10g sugar
  • 20g salt
  • 1/2 handful of thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic


Confit tomatoes:

1. Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan on gentle heat. When you see the skin starting to peel away from the tomatoes, remove from heat. Leave to infuse until you garnish with them.


1. Set up the barbecue with coals for medium to high heat.

2. Season the top of the fish with a pinch of salt.

3. Sear the fish top-side down until nicely charred. Gently pull away from direct heat and leave in a warm spot until 95 per cent cooked.

4. Flip over and char the underside quickly before serving.

5. Serve with confit tomatoes and nasturtium leaves.

Jerk-spiced barbecue chook on a full table. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Jerk-spiced barbecue chook on a full table. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Jerk-spiced barbecue chook

This is just a really easy and tasty way to cook chicken. It doesn't require a lot of effort at all, but people are always so impressed by it. I get my chicken from Eugowra Game Birds who supply to various butchers in Canberra. They are sustainable, organic and free range, and easily some of the tastiest going.



  • 1.2-1.4kg organic free range chicken

Jerk spice:

  • about 8 spring onions, roots removed, whites and about 5cm of green sliced
  • 1 tbsp red chilli flakes
  • zest and juice of two limes
  • 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 10g fish sauce (I prefer Three Crabs brand)
  • 25g tamari
  • 35g brown sugar
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 40g ginger, finely chopped
  • 50ml vegetable oil


1. Flatten the chicken out by removing the backbone and pat dry with paper towel. Remove wing tips and neck.

2. Set up your charcoal barbecue on a low to medium heat

3. Seal the skin side of the chicken until it is nicely charred (blackened but not burned.

4. Flip it over add smoking chips and place the chicken as far away from direct heat as possible within the barbeque.

5. Spread the jerk spice mix over the chicken. Cover the barbecue, allowing the meat to hot smoke for 45-55 minutes or until the thickest part of the thigh is 67C when probed.

6. Serve with fresh lime wedges.

Roasted lamb shoulder kebabs with garlic yoghurt and chickpea salad. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Roasted lamb shoulder kebabs with garlic yoghurt and chickpea salad. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Roasted lamb shoulder kebabs with garlic yoghurt and chickpea salad

I like to think of this as a cheffy take on souvlaki. As a chef, I eat a lot of late night souvlakis, so I feel like a bit of an aficionado. It's got that beautifully rich and soft meat which is lightened by the yoghurt and goes perfectly with chickpeas and mint. The lamb I use is from Bellevue in Cootamundra - available at various organic butchers around town. It's very important to use your hands when eating this one.

This recipe will take two days to prepare. On the first day marinate your lamb, soak the chickpeas, make the caramelised yoghurt and confit garlic, as these should be left overnight. On the second day you can roast the lamb, cook the lamb glaze, finish off the garlic yoghurt and prepare the chickpea salad. Throughout the process season as you like with salt.


For lamb shoulder:

  • 1.2 kg lamb shoulder, bone in
  • zest of 1 orange
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 handful rosemary
  • 1/2 bulb garlic, finely sliced
  • 2 green chillies
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • 25g ground cumin
  • 50g ground coriander seeds

For lamb glaze:

  • 100g fennel seed
  • 100g cumin seed
  • 80g white soy sauce (or tamari if you can't find white soy)
  • 225 white sugar
  • 160g water
  • 60g glucose
  • 40g lemon juice
  • 30g sherry vinegar

For garlic yoghurt sauce:

  • 600g greek yoghurt
  • 200g confit garlic (see recipe below)
  • 100g reduced lamb stock
  • For chickpea salad:
  • 200g chickpea
  • 150g rye grains
  • 2 handfuls of parsley, chopped
  • 2 handfuls of mint, chopped

For salad dressing:

  • 100ml fresh orange juice
  • 50ml brown rice vinegar
  • 10g sugar
  • 50ml olive oil
  • pinch of salt


For lamb shoulder:

1. Place orange zest, lemon zest, rosemary, garlic, chilli, cumin and coriander seeds in a large bowl with the lamb shoulder. Rub the mix over the meat and allow to marinate overnight, covered, in the fridge.

2. Preheat oven to 150C. Remove lamb shoulder, place in a roasting tray and pour over the chicken stock. Cover the tray tightly with foil and start to roast.

3. Cook for two hours on this temperature and then reduce the oven to 110C and cook for a further six hours. Make sure you check every so often that the lamb is still sitting in stock. Add more stock if you need to - you do not want it to dry out.

For lamb glaze:

1. Combine all ingredients except lemon juice and vinegar in a sturdy pot.

2. Place the mixture on the stove, and, using a thermometer, bring it up to 110C. Once it reaches this temperature, take it off the heat and set aside to infuse for 30 minutes.

3. Strain the mix and then stir through the lemon juice and sherry vinegar.

For confit garlic:

1. Place 200g garlic, 200g vegetable oil and half a handful of thyme on the stove in a small pot and leave on a gentle heat for three hours until the garlic is cooked.

For garlic yoghurt sauce:

1. Position a piece of muslin over a strainer and pour in the Greek yoghurt. Gather the edges of the muslin and tie together so that the yoghurt stays neatly inside. Slip a wooden spoon or other straight utensil through the tied muslin and hang the yoghurt over a deep bowl. Place in the fridge overnight to separate the whey from the yoghurt.

2. Once the lamb has cooked, take it out of the roasting tray and transfer the remaining stock into a pot.

3. Reduce the stock down until you have about 100ml left.

4. In an upright blender, place the reduced lamb stock, confit garlic and hung yoghurt. Blitz on high until smooth. Use the leftover whey from the hung yoghurt to adjust acidity to taste.

For chickpea salad:

1. After the chickpeas have soaked overnight, bring them to a simmer and cook until soft before straining.

2. Separately bring the rye grain to a gentle simmer and strain when cooked.

3. Shred parsley and mint and add to a large mixing bowl with the cooked chickpeas and rye grain.

4. Whisk together all ingredients for dressing and pour over the salad mixture.

To serve

Once you are all ready, glaze the lamb and place it back in the oven on the grill setting until it is nicely caramelised.

Serve the shoulder with the garlic yoghurt, chickpeas salad and pita bread. Remember to use your hands.

Malcolm Hanslow's Boozy pecan pie and peach salad. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Malcolm Hanslow's Boozy pecan pie and peach salad. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Peach salad

I must admit that the first time I made this salad, it was really just thrown together from random items in my fridge. But it worked so well that it's become a bit of a staple at our place in the summertime. I get the peaches from a friend of mine who commutes into Canberra from Young (about two hours away) - he picks me up a tray on his way into work each week.



  • 4 white peaches
  • 3 golden peaches
  • 1/2 handful basil, leaves picked
  • 250g stracciatella (or burrata)


  • 40ml brown rice vinegar
  • pinch salt
  • 10g sugar
  • 20ml olive oil


1. Whisk all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl until combined.

2. Slice peaches into approx 2 inch pieces and place on a baking tray.

3. Roughly tear basil and place on top of peaches.

4. Cover peaches and basil with dressing and leave for 10 minutes so the dressing starts to cure and break down the peaches.

5. Once ready, place the stracciatella/burrata in a serving bowl and top with the dressed peaches and basil.

Malcolm Hanslow's Boozy pecan pie and peach salad. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Malcolm Hanslow's Boozy pecan pie and peach salad. Picture: Elesa Kurtz

Pecan pie

This recipe is a nostalgic throwback to my childhood. When I was a kid, my mum used to buy pecan pie from the supermarket for special occasions. I decided to make my own boozy adult version in her honour.



  • 155g softened unsalted butter
  • 120g sugar
  • 280g plain flour
  • 60g egg (1 big or 2 small)
  • zest of one orange (optional)
  • 25cm tart pan


  • 2 eggs
  • 90g brown sugar
  • 40g golden syrup
  • 5g salt
  • 30ml whisky
  • 180g chopped pecans

Candied pecans:

  • 250g pecans
  • 130g brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp water



1. Whip butter and sugar together until sugar has dissolved.

2. Add egg slowly, then flour and mix until combined.

3. Spread between two sheets of baking baker with a rolling pin and chill.

4. Once chilled spread between another two sheets of paper until it is the thickness of a $2 coin.

5. Line tart case with the pastry and blind bake for 12 minutes at 160C.

6. Remove filling, glaze with egg wash and cook for a further 8-10 minutes.


1. Add all ingredients to mixing bowl and mix until the sugar has dissolved.

2. Once mixed pour into tart shell.

3. Bake at 160C for 16-20 mins or until internal temperature reaches 77C.

4. While it is cooking combine brown sugar and water in a flat pan on medium to high heat. Once the sugar is dissolved and it starts to caramelise add in the pecans.

5. Stir frequently for three to five minutes or until all the liquid has dissolved.

6. Set on a baking tray lined with baking paper to cool.

7. Take the pecan pie out of the oven when done and top it with the candied pecans.

8. Best served with vanilla ice cream.

This story Restaurant recipes: Have a very Pilot Christmas first appeared on The Canberra Times.