< Back

The Home Plate - Life and Lamb

Six Minutes with Sam Archer

(Meet the Farmer) Permanent link

farmer samAustralia’s farmers play a major role in ensuring that the country’s meat is some of the world’s best. In this short video, you’ll meet one who’s leading charge—sheep and cattle farmer Sam Archer. Not only are Sam and his wife Sabrina making a difference on their 1,500-hectare farm in New South Wales, but they’re also helping Australia to achieve sustainability goals that set an example for the rest of the world to follow. Here’s some of the important information Sam will share with you:

The Australian difference 

Australia’s red meat industry and key government and research organizations have made a long-term commitment to food safety, product integrity and sustainability, and traceability. Additionally, Australia is internationally recognized as being free of all major livestock diseases. 

A team effort 

When it comes to implementing sustainability initiatives, Australia’s got a lot of cooks in the kitchen, from the government to academic organizations and advocacy groups, all involved in research, development and education. Farmers like Sam, however, are often the first to carry the torch. “We think of ourselves as environmental caretakers, because we manage half of Australia’s landmass,” he says. 

One thing that sets Australia’s sustainability approach apart is a focus on the entire meat supply chain. There’s more work to be done, but according to Sam, so far, so good—the country’s red meat industry is leading the way in cutting water use, increasing biodiversity, implementing sustainable land management practices, reducing emissions from sheep and cattle and efficiencies in shipping to the USA. 

Important goals 

According to Sam, the red meat supply chain should conserve and enhance the following: biodiversity, clean air and water, healthy soils and natural ecological practices. It should also aim to “deliver good animal welfare and ensure that the diversity and productivity of the natural environment is maintained and enhanced for the benefit of future generations.” 

Walking the walk 

On their farm, Sam and Sabrina have been focusing on numerous sustainability improvements, including land use strategies; paddock rotation to “rest” land and maximize animal health; and the promotion of biodiversity through the re-planting of native vegetation along waterways.   

They’re also working with key organizations on four important environmental trials, including an environmental services pilot project aiming to establish a market price for environmental credits for carbon, water, salinity and biodiversity. 

Not just not food miles

As a whole, the Australian Red Meat Industry is looking at how livestock impacts the environment, using life-cycle assessments to measure the full environmental impact of producing a pound of meat, from the field to the fork. As Sam will tell you, the approach is far more reliable than the concept of food miles—Australia’s livestock industry even plays an important role in removing carbon from the atmosphere. 

Looking forward 

As technology continues to improve and sustainability initiatives come down the pipeline, Australia is well positioned to continue to be a sustainable meat producing and exporting country. Sam’s prediction: “We’ll be producing the highest quality lamb and beef for your enjoyment, for a long time to come.” 

For more on the sustainability of Australian Lamb, click here

Merry Chrissy!

(Only in Australia) Permanent link

In Australia, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas when the thermometer’s rising, school’s ending and the beach is beckoning. Indeed, with December 25th in the middle of Southern Hemisphere summer, Christmas feels different than in America. However, no matter where you roast your lamb, the spirit’s still the same. Nonetheless, if you’re in Australia and inclined to celebrate like a local, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind…

For instance, the holiday’s “Chrissy”—you send Chrissy cards and buy Chrissy prezzies. Don’t hang a skinny red stocking above the fireplace; do hang a good-size pillowcase at the end of your bed (just hope you don’t get coal!) As for Santa, he’s more of a red-shorts and flip-flops guy, with a surfer ‘tude—which works, as you’ll probably be at the beach (if you’re not at a backyard BBQ). For dinner—actually, lunch—look for classic roast lamb and plum pudding, plus fresh seafood and seasonal produce. Of course, every table needs Crackers, festive paper-wrapped cardboard tubes with jokes, paper hats or goodies inside. (Tip: to open them, grab a partner, pull the string and wait for the pop). Then it’s time for Chrissy pudding (and for one eater, the discovery of the lucky silver coin). Finally, no Christmas season is complete without a carol or two. Head to your town’s Carols by Candlelight singalong, or get your song on at home. Choose from solemn favorites like “Silent Night,” or, if you prefer, Jingle Bells: 

Dashing through the bush, in a rusty Holden Ute,     

Kicking up the dust, esky in the boot,   

Kelpie by my side, singing Christmas songs,   

It's summer time and I am in my singlet, shorts and thongs Oh!   

Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way,   

Christmas in Australia on a scorching summer's day, Oh!   

Jingle bells, jingle bells, Christmas time is beaut!,     

Oh what fun it is to ride in a rusty Holden Ute.     

 

Legend:    

Holden – locally manufactured GM vehicle  

Ute – Pick up  

Esky – Cooler  

Kelpie – An Australian dog breed

Thongs – Flip Flops    

Meet the Farmer: Allan Piggott

(Meet the Farmer) Permanent link

Allan PiggottIn this month’s edition of the Home Plate, we talk with 3rd generation sheep rancher Allan Piggott from Tailem Bend, South Australia. 

True Aussie Lamb: How long have your family been ranching sheep?

Allan Piggott: My grandfather purchased this property as a bush block in the 1922. Extra land has been purchased in recent years so we now own over 5000 acres and sheep have always been a very important part of the business mix. Not only do we produce prime lambs for the domestic and export markets, but we are also a seedstock producer, which means that we breed rams for other prime lamb producers.

TAL: How has the business of husbandry changed over that time? 

AP: There have been many changes over the 35 years that I have been involved with breeding lambs. We now have numerous labour saving devices that enable us to care for many more sheep safely and more efficiently. We are able to use the innovation and technology that is now available to make our Australian sheep and lamb industry more productive and more sustainable.

TAL: Are new generations coming into the business, too?

AP: We now have a large number of young sheep producers who are actively involved in our industry and excited and passionate about it. It’s a great sign for the future.

TAL: What should Americans know about lamb from Australia, from your ranch, and more generally?

AP: The Australian lamb that arrives in the USA has been grown in a clean and green environment by producers who are committed to providing the very best meat possible. Every plate of lamb is supported by decades of science and research to ensure that it meets the expectations of the consumer.

American consumers might not know that Australia has done decades of studies to find the gene markers for the best meat eating qualities. On our ranch we use this service and DNA test our young rams to ensure that they have the genetic traits to breed lambs that will produce the meat that we all enjoy. The result is a product that is nutritious, satisfying and delicious.

TAL: You recently hosted a group of hi-calibre chefs from the US to your farm - what do you think they responded to the most or were most impressed by?

AP: We had a long and interesting discussion about lamb production in Australia and I think they appreciated the information about the innovation and technology that is being utilised by Australian sheep farmers. During the discussion, we talked about the importance of providing a consistently good product to our consumers to ensure that they will always have a good meat eating experience. The flavour and tenderness of the meat is determined by the genetics, the production system used to grow the lamb and the methods used to process the lamb. As an industry we are continually working to ensure that we get this right.

TAL: American consumers eat about 1/20th of the lamb compared to their Aussie friends. If you could serve one lamb dish to convince a Yank to eat more lamb, what would it be?

AP: You can’t beat the Australian favourites of a lamb roast, rack of lamb or lamb chops on the BBQ. But equally as good (and a little bit different), my wife Sue makes a fantastic pulled lamb dish that has been slow cooked for up to 24 hours in Asian flavours.

Holiday Gift Guide

(Lifestyle and Travel Trends) Permanent link

Wondering what to get the cook or food lover in your life? You could go with a big leg of juicy Australian Lamb, complete with a snazzy red bow. Of course, there are other perfect gifts out there too that they’ll need to prepare that Australian Lamb. Here’s our handy guide:

Cast-Iron Skillet 

Hands-down, the one item any cook needs to have. Ideal heat conductors famed for ensuring even cooking, they can be used on the stovetop or in the oven, for sautéing, frying or even as a makeshift Dutch oven, for lamb stews and soups. Their remarkable durability also tends to make them a highly cherished item (ask Grandma or Mom about hers). Snag a basic 8″ or 10″ skillet for the beginner cook, or a more unusual size for the more experienced cook (just remember to keep their oven size in mind). 

Mortar and Pestle  

Handy for light mixing, crushing, grinding and mashing, to prepare blended foods like pesto (actually named for the pestle pounding) or guacamole, a mortar and pestle can be an indispensible kitchen tool. Quick to use and easy to clean, they can also double as eye-catching kitchen décor. While available in a variety of materials, many cooks tend to prefer ultra-non-porous ceramic and stone. Whatever material you choose, make sure both mortar and pestle are made of the same material, for even pressure and grinding. 

Good Knife 

Another essential and cherished kitchen item—for amateurs and experienced cooks alike—is a good knife. If you’re gifting for a beginner foodie, you can’t go wrong with a good chef’s knife, for chopping, slicing and dicing. Or, you can always round out their collection with one of three other essential knives: a longer, thinner slicing knife; a utility knife (a smaller, 4–6 inch version of the chef’s knife); or a paring knife. Quality tip: “forged” knives, while more expensive, tend to be sturdier and longer-lasting than their “stamped” counterparts. 

Artisanal Oils, Salts or Spices

 Every recipe needs some sort of oil, acid or seasoning—and while all cooks likely have regular old salt, pepper and olive oil in their cabinet, what about Meyer lemon olive oil, or classy French Fleur De Sel (delicate sea salt that can provide the perfect finishing touch to many a dish)? Hip, elegant and worldly, artisanal variations of basic ingredients can really appeal to a foodie’s creative, experimental nature. You may even get an exiting new lamb dish as a thank-you note!

Tagine

Considering what your foodie likes to cook is always a good approach. For fans of savory, slow-cooked dishes, you can’t go wrong with a tagine. A word that refers to slow-cooked dishes like this lamb leg, it’s also a cone-shaped pot traditionally used in Mediterranean and North African cooking. Comprised of a flat, circular base and a tall lid (designed to facilitate even heat and moisture circulation), it can be used to prepare tantalizing meals. It also makes an eye-catching conversation piece, with styles ranging from slick and modern to traditional and hand-painted.    

 

Your Face Here - Karen Chrestay

(Your Face Here) Permanent link

Several home chefs jumped at the opportunity to win two Aussie lamb racks, two lamb legs and a carving kit. This quarter's winner is Karen Chrestay. 

Karen Chrestay

AL: Congratulations Karen! We’re thrilled you submitted your lamb dishes to the Your Face Here contest. Tell us what inspired your dishes? 

KC: The chance to win all this lovely lamb was an inspiration in itself! We’re definitely lamb lovers in this house and so are many of our friends so it’s on the menu quite often — especially in the summer when we can grill and rotisserie. All my submissions were first-time experiments (my favorite way to cook) that were either inspired by a recipe I saw somewhere then tweaked to my own liking or just looking in the pantry, fridge and spice rack and putting things together. The Moroccan Spiced Rotisserie Leg of Lamb and the Curried Lamb Pie are two resulting examples. The mustard-herb-breadcrumb coated rack of lamb is a classic preparation that’s just too good to change.

AL: What advice would you give to someone cooking Australian Lamb for the first time? 

KC: No mint jelly! (Although I do make a broth-based fresh mint sauce that’s quite good with lamb). My biggest tip would be to invest in a good instant-read meat thermometer and use it often during cooking. There’s nothing worse than overcooking a fabulous leg or rack of lamb. And be sure to let it rest before carving. Don’t be afraid to experiment with cooking techniques or seasonings. Even if it doesn’t turn out exactly how you wanted, there’s almost always a way to salvage or re-invent the meal.

AL: What’s one of your favorite lamb recipes that would be good for a beginner to try? 

KC: A lamb stew made from the shoulder or shanks might be a good choice. Once all the ingredients are assembled, you really just sit back and let the stove do all the work and there’s not much chance of overcooking. Lamb burgers would be an easy intro to lamb cooking. Move on to grilled chops, then try roasting a half-leg. Once you’re familiar with lamb flavor and texture, you’ll feel more comfortable working with larger, more expensive cuts like whole legs or full racks.

AL: You mentioned hosting a lamb party for all your friends with the prize. Which fixings are you thinking will complement your lamb? 

KC: We have a wine dinner club called the Corkheads. I’m sure it will be the recipient of some of this wonderful lamb. We’ll ask the members to bring the sides and I’ll give them some ideas based on the theme of the meal. In the summer, it might be lots of cold salads and marinated and grilled vegetables. In colder months (like now), I like crispy roasted potatoes or a creamy, cheesy gratin and a bright green vegetable. And it goes without saying that at least one of those racks is reserved for my lamb-nut friend, Laura!

AL: Awesome. Thanks so much for chatting with us, and Happy Holidays!

Meet the Chef: Josh Elliott

(Meet the Chef) Permanent link
Josh Elliott HeadshotIn this month’s edition of the Home Plate, we talk to Hilton Cabana Miami chef Josh Elliott . Josh has worked his way up through some top restaurants in Miami, including db Bistro and almost the complete set of concepts in the Pubbelly empire, of which the Hilton Cabana’s L’Echon Brasserie is the newest member.

Josh recently took part in a day-long immersion in Aussie beef and lamb, connecting with a group of fellow chefs from Miami restaurants and hotels to “bone up” on meat from down under. “Lamb is my favorite protein to eat and to cook – I love every part of it.” said Josh. “And I never pass up an opportunity to learn the how and why about food and ingredients.” Like many of the chefs at the immersion, Josh raved about the chance to break out of the daily routine, connect with colleagues and just spend a day cooking for its own sake.

During the hands-on cooking part of the immersion, the chefs were put into teams and given a “mystery box” of ingredients to work with, cooking-show-style. Josh was paired up with Timon Balloo from Sugarcane and another hotel chef from the Four Seasons, and given a mix of Spanish & Portuguese ingredients to work with.

Josh’s team made Spanish meatballs, albondigas, using ground lamb from the hind shank. The meat was mixed with cream, manchego and piquillo peppers to make the meatballs. Then they served it up on a chickpea puree with a yogurt-quince vinaigrette.

Coming out of the immersion, Josh was inspired to take part in a special dinner featuring Aussie lamb alongside some of the other chefs in attendance. Hosted by chef Conor Hanlon at The Dutch, the five chefs served up an array of lamb dishes and accompaniments to a ticketed crowd.

Josh’s dish was a “Curry braised Aussie lamb shank with pumpkin spiced fregola, cranberry, green olive, candied pumpkin seed.” First Australian lamb hind shanks were cured in red curry, sugar and salt, then braised in yellow curry. In the classic French “presse” style, the meat was then cooked off the bone, pressed flat and cut into cubes. For service, it’s plated with fregola (Israeli couscous) with dried cranberries, green olives, diced pumpkin & pumpkin puree. “After the event, we took that same dish and ran it as a special at the restaurant, it did really well.” says Josh.

We asked Josh what the secret is to getting Americans to order lamb, and he told us “It’s true Americans are very beef-centric and can have what you might call comfortable palates.” He said. “The key is to educate your team and the guest, getting your service team excited about it and arming them with a story to tell. If they taste it and like it, they’ll sell it!”

He went on to add that having a high-quality and consistent product helps too. “I am really impressed by the care, consideration, and craft that goes into the Australian lamb.” he told us. “You can see the results in the quality, and the clean, natural flavor with less overall richness in Aussie Lamb.”