Need More Holiday Food Inspiration? Try These Recipes for Charles Gaines’s Candied Yams and Ragnar Kjartansson’s Lambchops

Read an excerpt from the new book "The Kitchen Studio: Culinary Creations by Artists."

Photo: Nicolas Polli, as featured in Wallpaper* magazine’s Artist’s Palate series, 2021.

Just in time for the holidays, Phaidon has released a compendium of recipes by some of the world’s leading artists, including Ghada Amer, Jimmie Durham, Carsten Höller, Dorothy Iannone, and more. As we celebrate Thanksgiving this week, we bring you part two of our series excerpting a few of the artists’ strange, delicious, and very creative personal recipes.

Ragnar Kjartansson’s Grilled Lamb Chops With Potatoes, Mushroom Sauce, and Salad

Ragnar Kjartansson. Grilled Lamb Chops with Potatoes, Mushroom Sauce and Salad. Image: A Perfect Evening, 2021. Courtesy of the artist, Luhring Augustine, New York and i8 Gallery, Reykjavik.

Here in Iceland we have an excellent food commodity that one could describe as “the Champagne of meat.” It is rare, and raised under very special conditions, not to be found anywhere else. Icelandic lambs roam free in the highlands during the summer, feasting on herbs, mountain grass and crystal-clear stream water. Their short life is one of beauty. The farmers treat them well and talk about them with deep respect.

My family has a farm in an area called Skaftártunga, which is a great sheep-raising area surrounded by volcanoes and glaciers and on the foothills of Iceland’s enormous highlands. Sheep farming and herding has been the area’s livelihood for 1,000 years.

Although we don’t raise sheep ourselves, it is one

of the responsibilities of my farm to shepherd the highlands in autumn (fall) with the other farmers in Skaftártunga. Through this lovely duty, shepherding has become my hobby. For one week in the autumn

I go with around 30 people up into the highlands and round up the sheep in places with names like Evil Canyon and Black Mountains. Knowing how the animals are raised, treated, and respected has filled me with adoration for this ancient industry.

Nowadays Icelandic lamb can be found in quality food markets around the world.

On the farm we love to put some lamb chops on the grill or, if the weather is bad, just slightly brown the meat in a pan and roast it in the oven. Here comes

a simple dish of lamb that is just as classic as it gets.

Grilled Lamb Chops with Potatoes, Mushroom Sauce and Salad

Serves 4


1 kg potatoes

Olive oil, for drizzling

8 lamb chops (I recommend you ask the butcher to cut you thick ones)

Fresh thyme leaves


For the mushroom sauce:

2 tablespoons butter

400 g mushrooms, cleaned and finely chopped

Fresh thyme leaves

1 teaspoon salt

100 ml red wine

200 ml double (heavy) cream

For the salad:

1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered

2 bunches of fresh salad greens

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon basil vinegar

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 200°C (390ºF). Cut the potatoes into wedges. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt. Put in an ovenproof dish. Roast in the oven for about 40 minutes, or until crisp and golden.


Charles Gaines’s Southern-Style Candied Yams

Photo: Nicolas Polli, as featured in Wallpaper* magazine’s Artist’s Palate series, 2021.

Serves six as a side dish.


5 medium yams (or sweet potatoes) 8 tbsp salted butter

1 tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground cloves

½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg

¼ tsp ground ginger

1 cup brown sugar

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 tbsp pure vanilla extract

½ cup heavy cream (or double cream)


Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).

Put the yams into a pot of water, bring to the boil over high heat. Boil the yams until the skins loosen and the yams are slightly softened but still firm. Allow to cool just enough to be able to handle them and then peel off the skin. (They should be easy to peel at this point, with the skin coming off with little effort.) Cut the yams into ½-inch slices and arrange in an 8 x 12-inch baking dish, layered in rows like fallen dominos.

For the candied mixture, melt the butter in a pan over low heat. Once melted, turn off the heat and add the cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, ½ cup of the brown sugar, ½ cup of the granulated sugar, and the vanilla extract, then mix it all together. In a separate bowl, mix the remaining granulated sugar with the cream, then add this to the bowl with the butter and spices.

Pour the candied mixture over the yams, cover the dish with foil and cook for 25 minutes, then remove from the oven and baste the yams with the candied mixture. Sprinkle the top with the remaining brown sugar, then cover and return to the oven for another 20 minutes.

Allow the dish to sit for about 10 minutes before serving.


Excerpted from The Kitchen Studio: Culinary Creations by Artists by Phaidon Editors, with an introduction by Massimo Bottura. Copyright © 2021 by Phaidon Editors, with an introduction by Massimo Bottura. Excerpted by permission of Phaidon Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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