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The Home Plate - Life and Lamb

Featured recipes from Chef Michael Slavin

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This month we’re featuring recipes from one of our favorite chefs, Michael Slavin from Houlihan’s Restaurants. (more on him here)

Soy marinated grassfed tri tip 2 Soy marinated tri tip:  
"I love tri-tip because it’s a cut you can cook whole — just marinate and grill it, then slice it up. And it cooks fast. A whole tri-tip can be cooked in less than 15 minutes, and you can feed a crowd. The important thing is to let it get a nice crust, and let it rest before you slice it.

With Aussie grassfed beef, the meat has so much flavor, I like to keep it simple. Here, soy sauce is my secret weapon — use it sparingly and it won’t taste “Asian,” just savory, delicious and full of umami. Soy sauce also tenderizes the meat and stimulates the palate. The olive oil adds some subtle herbaceous notes and a little fat. Any fat in a marinade helps the meat char and caramelize, and gets you those beautiful grill marks."

Beer and mustard-marinated lamb rack:
beer and mustard marinated lamb rack
"When you start with really high quality lamb, raised the right way like they do in Australia, you don’t have to doctor it up. The flavor work is done for you, you just need to accent it. I love cooking with beer — it’s the workingman’s wine when it comes to food. The carbonation makes it light and bright, adding some bitter and herbaceous notes, and does what wine or vinegar does in a sauce or marinade. With so many different kinds of beer out there from dark to light, malty to bitter, you can tell a great story, and there’s so much room to play.

In this dish I like to use a Belgian beer like Blue Moon. You want something light, and generally I think lager styles work better when you are cooking with them. These days beer is getting as much love as spirits and wine in the kitchen… it’s not just for drinking after your shift!"

A chef's life: Michael Slavin

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Michael slavin 

Chef Michael Slavin is Director of Culinary and Menu Innovation for Houlihan’s Restaurants, which includes the Houlihan’s brand, J. Gilbert’s Wood-Fired Steaks, Bristol Seafood Grill and Devon Seafood & Steaks. The man knows his steaks! He’s also a good bloke, and a fan of Aussie beef and lamb, so we thought we’d have a chat and take a look into his Chef’s Life.

We often wonder how much chefs cook at home, when food is your business all day. Especially when kids are in the picture! You have three, ranging from 16 to 3. How does it go down in the Slavin house?

I cook as much as they want me to, especially when I can use my outdoor kitchen. Generally I don’t like to work with a plan, unless we’re having guests or a special occasion. I’ll work with what I have on hand, and take pride in getting something on the table in 20-30 minutes that everyone will like.

Obviously as a chef you have a leg up, but what’s the key to getting the kids to “buy in” to what dad’s cooking?

I think getting the kids involved is great — they get a sense of pride and accomplishment, and they’re invested in it. As the parent, you celebrate that they helped out; give them lots of credit and praise. It’s a lot like what you have to do with young cooks in professional kitchens these days!

You gave us a number of your favorite recipes for home cooks. Tell us about the “Zesty Lemon and Roasted Garlic Leg of Lamb Steak.

That one is delicious! The key is we’re not trying to hide the lamb flavor. In the old days, cooks would cover up the natural taste of lamb with heavy sauces and mint jelly. But with good quality Aussie lamb you don’t want to do that! It’s naturally clean and almost sweet tasting because of the way it was raised, naturally on pasture. Keep it simple with a nice spice rub, and then a condiment like the one in the recipe, with feta, lemon, olive oil and herbs. It’s Mediterranean flavors all the way, and the lemon zest gives you that instant brightness and “pop.” You can almost taste it from the way it looks and smells…you’ll start salivating.

One tip for this one, you have to cook it fast, because it’s cut thin. Let it sit at room temperature to help it cook quickly, and use a good hot pan.

OK, we’re hungry now! For more of Chef Slavin’s recipes, follow this link. Or go to your local Houlihan’s Restaurant group location.

Go low and slow to look like a pro

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fig and lamb stew The crock-pot once had a bad rap as a stodgy old housewife’s appliance, but in recent years more home chefs are seeing the appeal in the “low and slow” method. We were happily surprised that it wasn’t just retro-minded hipsters behind this, but professional chefs, too. These are a few of our fave slow-cooker recipes from some of our chef mates. They’re all designed to keep the family happy and make you look like a pro.