Chef Andy Husbands is something of an icon on the Boston restaurant scene, with 19 years of success in the South End under his belt with ‘Tremont 647’ and ‘Sister Sorel’. He’s also written four books, from 2004’s The Fearless Chef to 2014’s Grill to Perfection. And somehow he finds time to compete -- and win – in the arcane world of championship BBQ. We caught up with Chef Andy shortly after he helped lead a seminar on True Aussie Beef & Lamb for local Boston chefs as our official “lambassador.”
What did you take away from the immersion?
It was a lot of fun getting to cook with peers outside of the restaurant context. As professionals we don’t get to do that too often, and strip away all the guardrails of the restaurant kitchen and just cook for the sake of it. It’s a great way to get fired up.
What do you like best about lamb?
I think Americans – chefs and guests alike – often forget about lamb; it’s not the go-to that beef or chicken are. At our restaurant, we love using lamb, especially in atypical applications. At the immersion I did an Aussie lamb pastrami, and right now we’ve just run a successful “lamb ham”. People have a view of lamb as a special occasion dish – but it can be so much more than that.
What about Aussie lamb in particular?
I’ve worked with Aussie lamb before, so I knew what to expect; but the quality we cooked with that day was truly spectacular. As a chef I look for flavor, sustainability and consistent quality in pretty much every ingredient, and especially meats. The Aussie lamb is right on point with all three of my key areas. It’s why I’m an Aussie lambassador!
What are some of your favorite ways to cook lamb?
I’m a huge fan of live fire cooking, and anything on the grill. In Boston we don’t get to cook outside for a good part of the year, so a trusty cast iron skillet for pan-roasting and oven cooking work great for achieving that amazing natural lamb flavor. (Andy uses this technique with his Australian lamb t-bones.)
What about flavor combinations, herbs and spices?
There’s nothing wrong with classic flavor combinations like fresh mint, rosemary and oregano. One of the best things you can do with lamb is just grill it simply with olive oil and herbs, then hit it with a bit of lemon and sea salt. (Andy’s Aussie Lamb Leg with Lemon and Fresh Herbs is a great example!) Meat in general and Aussie lamb in particular is naturally sweet – so the classic contrast of sweet and sour works really well. I also love using North African spices like fenugreek, cinnamon and ginger.
What should home cooks know about cooking lamb?
What’s really important is cooking process. Most importantly, watch your temperatures – treat it like chicken or beef and don’t over- or under-cook. Use a therma-pen or other instant-read thermometer. For lamb I like to cook to 130°-135°F and finish with a rest. Always rest your lamb before serving, you’ll add another 5 degrees of temperature as the heat distributes. You end up in that happy spot between medium rare and medium.