Level Up Your Recipe Repertoire With These Carnivore Dishes From The Tattooed Butcher

By Jessica Suo

James Smith smiling to camera with the Ninja Grill in the background

Stuck on the same rotation of recipes? Does pesto pasta have a chokehold on your shopping list? Take this as a sign to stop marinating in FoodTok and get chopping. Our nan used to say "your butcher knows best", so we’ve called on the best on Aotearoa—literally.

James Smith a.k.a. The Tattooed Butcher has been in the chiller since school and 14 years later has been crowned NZ Butcher Of The Year in 2020 and competed internationally even heading to the 2025 World Butchers' Challenge in Paris. With an equal love for cooking and experimenting with the flavours around meat, to James, this is his art.

To get your culinary juices flowing, we’re bringing you three lip smacking recipes from James who has teamed up with Ninja Kitchen to inspire you to get creative with your food.

If you have the desire to cook it, you can make it, and our mates at Ninja are here to help you do it in ways that are fast, easy, and delicious.

Lamb Neck Tacos 

Tacos on plate

Gone are the days of chicken breast, our palates are more experimental with more and more menus showcasing playful cuts of meat, from beef cheek to ox tail. Lamb neck is another elevation your local butcher will no doubt love to provide. The orange in this recipe adds a punchy acidity and tenderises the meat beautifully. James’ tip: heat soft shell tacos for 30-45 seconds before serving. 


  • 3 x lamb necks
  • 10 x soft shell tacos
  • 1 cup veggie stock
  • ¼ cup red wine
  • 3 x fresh garlic cloves crushed
  • 3 x twigs of fresh thyme
  • 1 x teaspoon salt
  • 1 x teaspoon pepper
  • 1 x orange cut in quarters
  • 2 x brown onion sliced
  • 1 x tablespoon olive oil


  • Coriander chopped
  • Pickled red onion
  • Feta
  • Garlic yoghurt


  1. Grab the Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Oven and fill the pellet hopper. Set the oven to max roast. Set the first step temperature to 250c for 10 minutes, then click the Woodfire button to start the smoker. Set the second step for 3 hours and 45 minutes.

  2. Press Start to preheat the oven. 

  3. In a tin foil tray, rub the lamb in olive oil, salt and pepper 

  4. Once the oven has finished preheating, place the lamb in.

  5. After 10 minutes, the oven will let you know step one has finished. Remove the tray and add veggie stock, red wine, garlic, thyme, orange quarters and brown onion. 

  6. Wrap in tin foil and place back in the oven for the remainder of the time.

  7. After step two, the oven will let you know when the lamb is ready to remove. 

  8. Rest for 30 minutes before pulling the lamb apart

  9.  Serving on the soft shell tacos with desired toppings. 

Steak And Chimichurri 

Steak on board

You can’t get more restaurant quality at home than this. With simple seasoning, the flavour of the steak really sings. While this chimichurri is James’ version, he wants you to be able to make it your own. Want more garlic? Go for it. Some tang? Squeeze a lemon.


  • 1 x portion aged tomahawk (James chose a 44 day aged steak from Matangi Meats)
  • 2 x teaspoon salt
  • 2 x teaspoon pepper
  • 2 x tablespoon olive oil

Chimichurri Ingredients

  • ⅓ cup Italian parsley finely chopped
  • 3 x garlic cloves
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ tteaspoonsp cracked pepper
  • 1 x teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 x teaspoon chili flakes
  • 2 x tablespoons red wine


  1. Remove your tomahawk steak from your fridge and rest for 1 hour. 

  2. Grab the Ninja Woodfire Electric BBQ Grill And Smoker and fill the pellet hopper. Turn the dial to grill and press the Woodfire Flavour button to start the smoker. Set grill to High, select the Beef preset and using the left arrows, select your resired doneness. 

  3. Press Start and let the grill preheat. 

  4. Add a generous amount of olive oil to your tomahawk steak then season with salt and pepper. 

  5. The grill will let you know once preheatek, then insert the built in temperature probe into the thickest part of the steak.

  6. Open the lid and put the the tomahawk onto the grill. 

  7. Combine all the ingredients for the chimichurri and mix well.

  8. The grill will sound an alarm when it is time to flip the tomahawk over. Be careful here, as the grill and meat will be very hot. 

  9. The grill will sound an alarm again when the steak has finished. Removed the probe and  rest the tomahawk steak for 10 minutes before slicing.

  10. Spread the chimichurri over and serve. 

Bacon Brownies

Brownie in hand

Not even dessert is safe from James’ meaty might, and boy are we grateful. Office shared lunch, potluck, movie night—you can never go wrong with a tray of brownies and now imagine pulling up with these bacon brownies. It might seem intuitive to mix the bacon in with the chocolate chips but the flavour can get lost so James recommends always sprinkling on top.


  • 250g butter
  • 4 x eggs
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ cup white sugar
  • 1 x teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 cup standard flour
  • 1 x teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • 8 x strips of grilled bacon finely chopped


  1. Turn the Ninja Woodfire Outdoor Oven dial to Bake, fill the pellet hopper then click the Woodfire button to start the smoker. Set the temperature to 180c for 25 minutes and press the start button to preheat the oven. 

  2. Melt butter in a mixing bow,l then add cocoa, sugar and vanilla essence.

  3. Add eggs, sift in flour and baking powder, then mix well.

  4. Stir in the chocolate chips.

  5. Line a baking tray with baking paper then pour the in brownie mixture. 

  6. Evenly sprinkle your finely chopped bacon pieces on top.

  7. The oven will let you know when it has finished preheating, place the brownie inside.

  8. The oven will let you know when it has finished cooking. Remove the brownie and rest for an hour or until the brownie has firmed up, then slice and serve.

Want to make these at home but don’t have the tools or appliances? Head to Ninja Kitchen to check out their full range to help you achieve endless opportunities in the kitchen, regardless of how much experience you have. 

Editor’s note: this article was produced in partnership with Ninja Kitchen. Thank you for supporting the partners who make Urban List possible. To read our editorial policy, click here.

Images: Supplied.

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