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The Home Plate - Life and Lamb

Meet the Chef: Aaron Brooks

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Chef Aaron BrooksChef Aaron Brooks is the Executive Chef at
Four Seasons Miami and its EDGE Steak & Bar, and recently served as our “Lambassador” for Australian Lamb in Miami. Even as an expat and fellow Aussie, he learned a thing or two about lamb in working alongside other Miami chefs during Aussie Lamb Spring Fling this April. “I’ve traveled all over and used Aussie lamb for years, but never really knew what goes into it, the respect for the animals and how they’re raised and pastured.” Chef Aaron says. “We see it in the consistency and quality in what we get here, but it was inspiring to see and hear the story behind it.”

When asked what he likes most about Aussie lamb, Chef Aaron mentions the fact that it’s pasture-raised, with clean, natural flavor. “The flavor takes me back to home, and the quality of the lamb that’s exported to the US is amazing - they only send us the best.”  He notes that his guests have responded really well to the lamb he puts on the menu. “We see the reactions from folks every time we feature lamb.” says Aaron. “They love it, and wonder why they haven’t ordered it more often.”  The current menu at EDGE features “Fire Roasted Aussie Lamb Chops, Crisp [Lamb] Belly Glazed with Black Pepper Tupelo Honey, Five Grain Salad, Greek Yogurt” – to which we say, “Yes please!”

For home cooks, Chef Aaron recommends the grill to simply and quickly bring out the best flavor in lamb. He suggests using marinades and seasonings with earthy, strong flavors, which will pair well with the lamb and the smoky notes of the grill. His Korean BBQ lamb chops are a great example. “You can also keep it simple, like we often do in Australia.” notes Aaron. “Marinate Aussie lamb in a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and some rosemary or other herbs, and you’re good to go on the grill.”

Another of Chef Aaron’s favorite lamb dishes is his “Australian Lamb with Chipotle and Spices.” With the sophisticated equipment in the restaurant kitchen, he’ll cook it sous vide for 12 hours for super-soft, succulent texture and deeply intense flavor. You can achieve a similar effect at home with a simple braise on the stovetop or slow-cooker. “Even when you’re not grilling, smoky flavors like the chipotle and those aromatics like cumin, cloves, and allspice just bloom when they come together with lamb.” he says. “It’s irresistible.” 

WATCH AND LEARN: Chef Stephen Cooks Lamb Kebabs

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thumb_kebabs-video-thumbSummer is a season for simple pleasures—the smell of freshly cut grass, the warm sand on your toes at the beach, what-have-you. As far as dinner is concerned, it doesn't get more simple or pleasurable than grilled meat on a stick.

We're talking, of course, about kebabs, those colorful meat and veggie assemblages that originated in the Middle East and are also called "shish kebabs" (from the Turkish for "skewer" and "roast meat"). Traditionally made with lamb, they were the dish du jour among ancient nomadic tribes looking for sustenance. Today, they're a godsend for BBQ hosts who need something easy to cook so they can entertain, while sipping a cold beer.

You can use any kind of meat for kebabs, but if you want them to be as juicy and tender as possible, use Australian Lamb. In this easy-to-follow video, Chef Stephen shows you how it's done. You'll notice Chef cooks his North African-inspired kebabs indoors on a griddle, but the same simple instructions and tips apply when grilling outdoors. Be sure to check out our kebab grilling tips for additional information.

Prepare and Season

While many different cuts can be used for kebabs, Chef Stephen's pick is lamb rump (shank end of a leg of lamb). The lean cut takes well to spices and marinades. It's one of the best-value choices too.

As Chef instructs, you’ll want to buy a denuded rump, with sinew and fat removed. A regular serving size is around 6–8 ounces per person; cut the meat into 1-inch cubes for kebabs.

Not surprisingly, Middle Eastern spices are ideal for seasoning kebabs. Chef Stephen sprinkles and lightly presses each side of his kebabs with dukkah, a North African mix of ground sesame, cumin, coriander and pistachio. The mix can be found in the Middle Eastern section of most fine grocers, or try making your own (it's really easy). Either way, expect a beautifully nutty flavor.

After you've threaded your kebabs, brush both sides of the meat with olive oil. As you'll see, just a few brush strokes will do the trick, but this step is important because it will help prevent the meat from sticking to the grill.

Grill and Serve

Kebabs are best grilled over high heat, or, in Chef Stephen's case "a really hot griddle plate." Before cooking the meat, brush the griddle surface with olive oil, to keep it from sticking.

When cooking kebabs indoors, brush the grill surface with olive oil and keep the burner on high heat. Add the meat and allow about 3–4 minutes' cook time per side for medium rare. As Chef Stephen instructs, only turn the meat once (otherwise it will become dry and tough). Also avoid flipping the kebabs too soon, as the dukkah will stick to the grill.

Chef complements the North African flavors in the meat with Moroccan-style lemon couscous tossed with almonds, garnishing the whole package with mint, coriander and preserved lemon for an extra-fresh flavor kick. Give it a try, or have fun being creative with your own side dishes.

Footy Fun

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 Summer is a quiet time for American football. Down Under, though, the “footy” season’s well underway—although “footy” could mean three different things, depending on who you ask! The action’s happening in three codes: the AFL–The Australian Football League, or “Aussie Rules” football; The Australian Rugby Union; and The Australian Rugby League. The latter two codes also field international teams, The Wallabies and The Kangaroos.

Wondering what’s what? For starters, American football and Aussie Rules football are quite different. With its focus on kicking the ball into a goal, many Americans would say that Aussie Rules bears a closer resemblance to soccer (though you wouldn’t want to call it that to an Aussie!). On the other hand, while they’re not exactly the same, tackle-heavy rugby can be likened to American football—though any rugger would surely remind you of two missing uniform parts: shoulder pads and helmets. 

Differences among the three codes include pitch (field) shapes—oval for AFL; rectangle for rugby, and passing methods—football: any direction from the hand; rugby: backwards only. Then there’s the number of players on a team (18 for AFL, 15 for Union and 13 for League) and scoring methods (through the posts for football; touching down for rugby). And so on! 

Fans tend to swear allegiance along geographic lines. Aussie Rules draws mostly from the Northern Territory, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria and Western Australia. Rugby League and Rugby Union loyalists are concentrated in New South Wales, Victoria, Western Australia and Queensland. As you might imagine, rivalries are fierce. However, there’s one game day tradition on which everyone can agree: meat and beer. Grilled Australian Lamb chops are a tailgating must, and during the game it’s all about what you can hold while you watch. Meat pies, sausage rolls and chili are standard fare. 

Roasted Australian Lamb Rack with Oven Fries and Herb Vinegar

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roasted Australian lamb rackWant to be the hostess (or host) with the mostess this holiday season? If you roast some Australian Lamb, you don’t have to worry so much about decking the halls or lighting up the house up like Clark Griswold. Your guests are likely to be so enthralled with the meat’s enticing aromas, melt-in-your-mouth texture and juicy flavor that they’ll hardly even pay attention! 

One of the easiest and most delicious ways to prepare Australian Lamb, roasting is the dry heat cooking method often used for large, tender cuts. However, it’s equally delicious for rack of lamb, especially if you marinate the meat overnight, as in the delicious recipe below. Or, you can slow-roast a leg of lamb (like the one Chef Stephen prepares in this quick video).   
One thing to keep in mind when roasting Australian Lamb is that the meat should rest for a few minutes, just prior to carving and serving, to allow the juices to settle into the meat. The larger the meat, the longer it should rest (you can cover it with aluminum foil, to hold in the heat). 
Another tip, for large cuts that require carving, is to carve across the grain of the meat. This will ensure maximum tenderness. You’ll need a carving knife 8 to 10 inches long, a chef’s fork or tongs to hold the roast in place and a carving board. Carve only what’s necessary—meat left on the bone stays moist and firm for enjoying later.

 Australian Lamb Ingredients

  • 2 Australian Lamb racks, frenched
  • olive oil, for coating
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, chopped, or 2 teaspoons, dry

Herb Vinegar Ingredients

  • 1⁄2 cup fresh mixed herbs, chopped (try mint, tarragon, marjoram, thyme or rosemary)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar

Oven Fries Ingredients

  • 6 potatoes, cut into wedges
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

To Serve (optional)

Green salad and cucumber or vegetables of choice

Method

Brush the racks of lamb with oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Scatter the mustard seeds and oregano on a plate and press the meat side of the lamb into the mixture to coat. Cover and refrigerate 1–2 hours or overnight.

To make the herb vinegar, place the herbs, vinegar and lemon zest in a food processor and process for a few seconds just to combine. Pour into a jar or small bowl and set aside.

To make the fries, preheat oven to 400°F. Brush the potatoes with oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place on an oven tray and bake for 25–30 minutes or until browned and crisp.

When the potatoes have been in the oven for 10 minutes, place lamb racks in a roasting pan meat side up and roast for 12–15 minutes for medium-rare, which will be the most tender and moist, or until cooked as preferred. For medium-rare, the meat will be browned and still springy when pressed. The internal temperature will be 130–140°F.

Transfer to a warm plate, cover loosely with foil and allow to rest for 5 minutes. Serve the racks with the oven fries, herb vinegar and, if desired, a salad.

Cooking Tip:

Prefer your meat with a crispier crust? Try searing it until lightly browned before placing it in the oven. Just remember to adjust your cooking time—about 7–10 minutes for medium-rare, or until the internal temperature reaches 130–140°F.

Lamb, Cucumber and Watercress Salad

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Cooking with spring produce? Think “the more the merrier.” Fantastic on their own, many of the season’s fresh fruits and veggies also play deliciously well together. We’re talking spinach and mushrooms, strawberry and rhubarb, and so on—and then there’s how they taste with juicy Australian Lamb. Nom, nom.  

Here’s a great-tasting, lamb-friendly combination that may not have come to mind: a watercress, fennel and cucumber salad. Now, if the mention of watercress brings to mind dainty English tea sandwiches—or if you interpret “salad” as “rabbit food"—give this mind-changing recipe a shot. A complete, flavorful spring meal will be your reward, along with a host of nutritional perks. Antioxidants? Vitamins? Minerals? All in here. Tea parties and rabbits? Nope, just a smoky barbie, a tender leg of Australian Lamb and lots of flavor. Enjoy!    

Servings  

4-6  

Australian Lamb Ingredients

  • 1 Australian Lamb leg, boneless 
  • 2 tablespoons coarse sea or kosher salt 
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper 
  • 2 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves 
  • Olive oil 

Salad Ingredients  

  • 2 Persian or ½ English cucumber 
  • ½ bulb fennel (anise), white part only 
  • 2 bunches watercress, leaves separated from roots 
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1 lemon 
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard 
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 

Method  

Remove netting and open leg of lamb. Pound to around 1- to 2-inch thickness. Season with salt, pepper and oregano. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes to 1 hour, or overnight for a more “cured” flavor.

Drain away excess juices and pat lamb dry with a paper towel, wiping off excess seasoning. Allow to come to room temperature, then brush generously with olive oil. Preheat grill or barbecue to medium high and add remaining oil.

Add lamb to the grill and brown on all sides, then continue to barbecue, turning occasionally for 10-20 minutes, depending on thickness. The lamb can be finished in a covered grill or 350°F oven. Transfer to clean platter, cover loosely with foil and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes.  

For the salad, cut cucumber and fennel in half lengthwise and slice as thinly as possible. For paper-thin slices, use a vegetable peeler or mandolin. Place in large bowl with watercress leaves.

Just before serving, whisk together the oil, juice of ½ of the lemon, mustard, and season to taste. Toss through the salad.  

Place salad on large platter or individual plates. Slice desired amount of lamb thinly across the grain and arrange over salad. Squeeze over extra lemon juice, or lemon-infused oil.   

Toss the salad with half of the dressing and serve with the chops. Drizzle the chops with the rest of the dressing.

Leg Versus Rack: Roasting Australian Lamb

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Roasting is a dry heat cooking method often used for large, tender cuts. It makes a melt-in-your-mouth Easter centerpiece and creates an oven-warm, fantastic-smelling atmosphere inside your home. Prior to this cozy scenario, though, you'll likely face The Great Roast Lamb Debate– leg of lamb versus rack of lamb.

We'll warn you– choosing between these crowd-pleasing cuts can be difficult! Watch this video to learn roasting basics—and read on to learn more about these two Aussie lamb stars.

The Cuts

From the hindquarter, leg of lamb can be a whole leg with sirloin attached, partly boned or a center cut roast. It can be rolled and tied, butterflied, boned or prepared whole. Chef Stephen uses an easy-carve leg (exactly what it sounds like), with the large hock bone left in the meat.

Lamb rack comes from the front/middle section, from the saddle through the eye muscle. It can be frenched (with fat and tissue between bones removed), capoffed (with fat cap removed) or fully denuded (all fat removed). Rib chops are single or double chops cut from the rack.

Cooking Your Leg of Lamb

Chef Stephen seasons his lamb with a classic salt, pepper and rosemary mix. As he demonstrates, one advantage of a lamb leg is that it can also be stuffed with garlic (or, as in this month's featured recipe), shallots and thyme.

A 2.2-lb leg like Chef Stephen's takes about 45 minutes at 350F to cook to medium. A larger bone-in leg will take about 1 hour and 40 minutes to reach medium rare. For the richest flavor, try slow roasting at 250–300°F for 3–4 hours, in a pan of flavorsome liquid. Be sure to factor about 10–15 minutes resting time into your total cook time.

Cooking Your Rack

Like leg of lamb, tender, mild-flavored rack of lamb requires little seasoning. One advantage of a rack is that it's easy to pan-sear prior to roasting, a means of reducing roasting time, sealing in the meat juices and creating a crisp, fabulously caramelized crust.

After searing your rack for about three minutes per side, roast it fat side up at a high heat (375–425°F) for 13–15 minutes for medium rare (where it'll be the most tender and moist). The meat will still be springy when pressed. If you're searing your rack, simply increase roast time and lower the oven temperature—about 30 minutes at 400°F for medium rare. As with a leg, allow for resting time—about 5–10 minutes.

On the Plate

Economical and great for leftovers, a leg of lamb serves at least six. As you see in the video, hearty side dishes like potatoes and veggies can be cooked alongside the meat, for a flavor-packed, one-pan meal.

A medium (8-rib) rack of lamb typically serves 2–3. While you're less likely to see side dishes roasted alongside a rack, its impressive presentation recoups what it may lack in one-pan meal-ness—hence rack of lamb's wildly popular presence on restaurant menus. Pair yours with everything from fresh spring salads to savory vegetables and grains.

Decision Time

Roasting lamb this Easter? Let us know which cut you choose!

Chef Stephen’s Lamb Shanks Cooked in Stout

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Great for sipping during the cold winter months (or on St. Patrick's Day), dark, robust stouts can be a little heavy for spring. Why not put any leftover brews to good use in the kitchen instead? Use them as the foundation of a great-tasting meal, like these shanks cooked in stout.

Ideal for shanks, diced leg of lamb and shoulder chops, braising (combination pan-searing and pot-roasting) really brings an aromatic depth to lamb. Acidic ingredients like beer (wine, stock, and so on) really bring the lamb to its falling-off-the-bone best. Watch this helpful video to get the technique down pat. 

Step 1: Sear

Grab your lamb shanks. For an impressive presentation, Chef Stephen uses Frenched shanks, with the meat removed from the bone at the end.

Drizzle some olive oil (about a tablespoon) into a hot pan. Before adding the meat, dust it with seasoned flour, a move that will eventually make for a thicker, richer sauce. Cook the lamb for a few minutes, until well-browned. This will enhance its flavor (a process known as the Maillard reaction, if you want to get technical). Remove the shanks and place them in a roasting pan.

Step 2: Sauce It Up

Add a little more olive oil to your pan, then add finely diced onions and carrots for additional flavor and meat tenderization. You’ll eventually add garlic, but resist the temptation to do that now—if you do, it may burn and taste bitter. Stir the onions and the carrots and toss in some rosemary (THE herb for lamb; two sprigs should do the trick). Add the garlic and fry the mix for a few minutes, so the flavors can get acquainted.

Then add the best ingredient of all: the stout. Pour in about half a bottle, give the pan a gentle shake and add some beef stock, for a beautiful, rich sauce. Season the mix with salt and pepper and cook at a low boil, until reduced by half. Taste it frequently along the way. The flavors will continue to develop as you cook the sauce, but tasting early will help confirm that you’ve struck the right ingredient balance.  

Step 3: Roast

Ladle the sauce over the shanks. Don’t worry if the sauce doesn’t cover the shanks; you’ll flip the meat later on. Cover the roasting pan with foil and cook at 320°F for about an hour and a half (you can also cook the meat at 250–300°F, for even more depth of comforting flavors). Either way, flip the shanks midway through the roasting time, to ensure they cook evenly.

Remove the pan from the oven. Let the shanks rest for 10 minutes, to allow the meat to relax and get the juices flowing back through it. Scoop a bowl of fluffy mashed potatoes and top with the lamb shanks, the sauce and a few sprigs of rosemary. Then grab your fork and get ready for a seriously mouthwatering meal. 

 

Australian Lamb on Lifetime's The Balancing Act

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Australian Lamb is an ideal part of a well-balanced diet—and we recently had a chance to discuss this in a most fitting place: on Lifetime’s The Balancing Act, a popular morning show focused on living a healthy, balanced lifestyle.  

“Lamb is a popular dish at restaurants, but not a staple in my at-home menu,” says host Kristy Villa, at the start of the show. Then, the truth really comes out: she has never tried Australian Lamb. “Honestly, it just looks too difficult to make.”  

Freeze!   

Studies show that lamb is a popular restaurant dish, but many people perceive it as being too challenging to cook at home. Studies also show that most people who try Australian Lamb really like it.  

Naturally, we smelled a challenge. Enter Chef Stephen and an arsenal of lamb dishes, designed to help Kristy see the light.  

Will Kristy like lamb once she tries it? Watch this video to find out or (spoiler alert!) keep reading, for the highlights. 

Australian Lamb 10

Kristy’s perception is a familiar one. While Americans eat nearly 100 pounds of beef per year, we only eat about one pound of lamb. And usually, only at restaurants or on special occasions. In reality, lamb is easy to prepare and enjoy at home any day of the week. “If you can cook beef or chicken, you can cook lamb,” says Chef Stephen. Not to mention lamb is a fantastic-tasting staple of a balanced diet. It’s packed with protein, vitamins and minerals.(You might want to delete this quote since it’s not literally true that lamb contains all the vitamins and minerals you need.

Supporting Evidence   

To convince Kristy and The Balancing Act viewers that Australian Lamb is well worth their time, Chef builds his case with a vibrant array of dishes. First up: the classic rack of lamb. One reason why it appeals: its impressive, restaurant-style presentation is achievable with next to no effort required. “It comes like that,” Chef tells Kristy, suggesting Frenched rack (with the bone denuded of fat) and mentioning another perk: “if it’s Australian, you’re going to get a good cut.” All you’ll need to do is cook your rack and slice it into chops.   

Then, on to exhibit B: The Great Australian Lamb Burger. Chef’s take: “Ground lamb is a fantastic meat for burgers because it’s a little leaner than beef and takes on other flavors very well.” As you’ll see, a lamb burger is best enjoyed in true Aussie fashion: with a fried egg and some pickled beets.

The Coup de Grâce: Leg of Lamb   

While Kristy mentions she’d be willing to try the lamb burger and seems impressed by the next dish, a zesty Moroccan-spiced lamb leg, she still hasn’t picked up a fork, or witnessed just how easy Australian Lamb is to prepare.
Time for the game-changing recipe: Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Brazilian Chimichurri

As Chef instructs, this recipe is made for a boneless leg of lamb. If you’re preparing it, you’ll want to make some cuts in the leg to get the meat to lie flat, for even cooking. And, because Australian Lamb has never been frozen, you can easily freeze the other half for another meal. Cook your butterflied leg to medium rare with the fat side up, so the fat melts through the meat, making it juicy and tender.   

The Verdict

Chef removes the meat from the oven and adds a splash of Chimichurri, a spicy Argentinean herb, oil and vinegar sauce. Then, the moment of truth. Kristy takes her first bite. There’s a Face. And then: a big smile. Survey says: “Scrumptious! Qué rico! This is so good.”  

Maple-Glazed Leg of Australian Lamb with Squash Purée and Cranberry-Pear Chutney

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Maple-Glazed-Leg-of-Australian-Lamb-with-Squash-Puree-and-Cranberry-Pear-ChutneyFresh, all-natural Australian Lamb really doesn’t require much seasoning—a shake of salt and pepper, or a little garlic and onion will often do the trick. However, it’s just as easy to get creative, as its mild character also tastes superb with tangy sauces, savory fruits and vegetables, and any number of spices and seasonings—or, in the case of this easy, Easter-worthy recipe, all of the above!

As you’ll discover, stuffing the lamb with shallots and thyme adds moisture to the meat and infuses it with herby flavor. The chutney and squash purée add a sweet yet savory quality to the dish that perfectly complements the tender meat.  

Carving a bone-in leg of lamb requires a little bit of technique, but it is really very simple. Plus, you’ll reap dividends: a bone-in leg provides extra-juicy flavors, the bone can be used to make lamb stock, and a bone-in leg also cooks a little bit faster than its boneless counterparts. Click here for some helpful carving tips.

View Recipe  

Lamb, Mushroom and Beer Pot Pies

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Lamb Pie Recipe ImageOut of the way, apple. These days, pie is for dinner, not dessert–and it’s all about meat.

Savory pies are an Aussie icon. You’ll find ‘em in the UK, New Zealand and other places, too—(the handheld version is a cousin of the empanada) but they’ve never really caught on in the U.S. Until now. And if the out-the-door lunch lines, hip pie shops and popular recipes from top chefs like Paula Dean, Emeril Lagasse and Sam Jackson are any indication, they’re not just another passing trend.

So, what ingredients are fueling the wild popularity? Certainly nothing of the chicken-pot or mystery-meat variety. What you will find at hotspots like Boston’s Ko or New York’s Tuck Shop are delicious fillers like all-natural Australian Lamb and fresh veggies, maybe some potatoes. Oh, and then there’s the golden, flaky pastry crust. Cost for the whole shebang: less than a steak.

View Recipe

Ready to try some pie? Visit one of the shops below, or keep an eye out—there’s likely an Aussie pie shop coming to your city. Pick up some boneless lamb shoulder and get your fix at home too with this fantastic recipe.

Pie Time! (Or at least give these top shops a Like on Facebook)

 

New York City

Pie Face: http://piefacenyc.com/
Down Under Bakery (DUB): http://www.dubpies.com/
Tuck Shop: http://www.tuckshopnyc.com/  

Boston

KO Pies: http://www.kocateringandpies.com/

Chicago

TipsyCake: http://tipsycakechicago.com/

Atlanta

The Australian Bakery Café: http://australianbakerycafe.com/

Seattle

The Australian Pie Company: http://www.australianpieco.com/

Portland

Pacific Pie Company: http://www.pacificpieco.com/

Grilled Australian Lamb Loin Chops with Warm Peach Chutney

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recipe-juneSalt and pepper, macaroni and cheese, peanut butter and jelly… they're all on the A-list of food couples. What about meat and fruit? At first, the pairing doesn’t quite seem to jive. Or does it?

Actually, if you think about it, it works—and there’s quite a bit of supporting evidence: Thanksgiving turkey with cranberry sauce, sweet and sour chicken, duck a l’Orange…

Well, OK, but let’s leave those couples to November, Chinese takeout and France, shall we? During summer grilling season, Aussie Lamb is THE mate for in-season fruit, especially stone fruit (peaches, plums, nectarines, what-have-you). And chutney, a chunky condiment made with fruit, sugar and vinegar, might as well be its soul mate. Just look at what chutney and lamb have in common: roots in ancient cultures, modern appearances in dishes around the globe, endless opportunities for customization; the list goes on. Most importantly: they taste (and look) great together with their balanced, savory and sweet, juicy and concentrated character.

This mouthwatering recipe proves the point. Added bonus: it takes just minutes to grill the fresh, simply seasoned lamb chops. If you're really looking to save time, the chutney can be made the day before and stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Just reheat gently before serving or serve cold with the lamb.

Servings:

4

Australian Lamb Ingredients

  • 8 Australian Lamb loin chops, trimmed
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice or balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Peach Chutney Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 leek, white part only, sliced
  • 2 peaches, diced
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ½ cup white wine or orange juice
  • ¼ cup cilantro or basil, finely sliced, for garnish

To Serve (optional)

Grilled eggplant and peppers or salad of choice

Method

Place the lamb chops in a flat glass or ceramic dish. Combine the oil and lemon juice and pour into the dish, swirling the chops through the mix to coat both sides. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover with plastic and allow to marinate 15–20 minutes while you make the chutney.

To make the chutney, heat the olive oil in a saucepan, add the leek and cook for 2–3 minutes over medium heat or until soft. Add the peaches, vinegar, sugar and wine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until peaches are soft and mixture is syrupy, about 15–20 minutes. Keep warm or refrigerate in sealed containers until ready to use.

Remove chops from marinade and pat dry. Preheat a broiler or barbecue to medium high and grill the chops for 2–3 minutes on each side for medium rare or until cooked as desired.

Serve with the chutney and garnish with cilantro or basil. This is delicious with grilled eggplant and peppers or salad of choice.

 

Food Porn

(Lifestyle and Travel Trends) Permanent link

It needs no parental controls, you've probably seen it at work and people rarely hide their stash—why bother when it can be posted on Facebook?

Food pornSuch is the new pornography that's everywhere: food porn! More savory than smut, this trend is all about the tantalizing action that's taking place on the plate, captured in food photographs that leave viewers drooling. From the offerings at five-star restaurants to the amateur cook’s finest culinary creations, its stars (millions of them) have taken over the internet, with hot shots from breakfast, lunch, dinner and beyond, commonly sporting hashtags like #Food and #FoodPorn on Twitter and Instagram.

Wondering where you can post your pic or get your fix? If it’s lamb porn you seek, head on over to the Photos section of our Facebook page or Community Center. You’ll find plenty of mouthwatering lamb images (new additions are most welcome, too). You can also check out these five dedicated food porn sites:

Flickr Food Porn Group

Geared towards those "who can't help but take pictures of food" and loaded with nearly 600,000 images, this is one of the most active groups on the popular photo-sharing site. A series of lively discussion threads add to the fun.

Food Gawker

Populated by food bloggers from around the world (editors review and select submissions daily), this "curated photo gallery" enables viewers to discover new recipes, techniques and ingredients.

Pintrest Food & Drink

Food images are also the fastest-growing category on this rapidly growing inspiration board site, where they reportedly generate 50% more re-pins than fashion and style photos. Many images connect to recipe posts, which can easily be repined for maximum visibility.

TasteSpotting

One of the earliest food porn sites (founded in January 2007), this "obsessive, compulsive collection of eye-catching images" presents itself as a visual potluck of all things taste-related. Submissions are reviewed by a team of editors, who dish out "a beautifully refined set of the community’s contributions."

FoodPornDaily

This popular site is what it sounds like, serving up the "most delicious food pic possible, once a day, every day." It also boasts a companion cookbook. The daily photo links to recipes when possible, and aims to offer chefs everywhere a little inspiration.

Keeping It Fresh—New Websites

(Lifestyle and Travel Trends) Permanent link

A new look for Australian-lamb.com and Australian-beef.com

As data from the February 2012 study Clicks & Cravings: The Impact of Social Technology on Food Culture shows, the majority of consumers are taking to the web for all things food-related. As we like to keep things fresh here at Meat & Livestock Australia, and (more importantly!) we’re here to serve you, we’ve recently redesigned our Australian Lamb and Australian Beef websites with your needs and interests in mind. Use our revamped, easily navigable interface to find everything you need to know about our products, with plenty of nice things to look at along the way. We do hope you’ll explore—come hungry, and feel free to let us know what you think!

AT A GLANCE: A new, improved and totally spiffy way to learn about Australian Lamb and Beef.

A Proper Welcome

We want you to come in and explore our site…so we figured we’d better make a good first impression! When you arrive at the homepage of Australian-lamb.com and Australian-beef.com, our newest, most exciting photography will be there to greet you. Watch our slider and whet your appetite—and if you like what you see, a simple click of the mouse will take you straight to the recipe. Check back often for snazzy new images.

Colorful. Easy.

To maximize your access to our great content, we’ve streamlined our site menus and added a dark background with a soft, complementary color scheme. Quickly toggle between recipes, cooking tips and product information using the main menu in blue at the top of your screen. Scroll down to the full footer (a top-quality design element) to easily search the site, discover our latest happenings, download our iPhone app and more. 

 

Less Words, More Pictures

As any time-strapped web surfer or smartphone user can testify, sometimes you just don’t have the minutes or the 20/20 vision to read through long paragraphs on a webpage. Images really are worth a thousand words, so we’ve added photos and charts that will help you navigate through the site and discover the information you seek, at a glance. Where you do see words, we’ve kept ‘em easy-to-read, with the dark background, oversized photography and easy-to-read fonts.

 

The Little Things

Cruising through a website is like driving a car—the little things (cup holders, steering wheel audio controls and so on) can make a big difference. When you’re on our site, we never want you to have to stop and think about how to get from one page to the next. And, if you’re feeling social, we want you to be able to stay connected with a simple click. Small-but-important details, like the small arrows on drop-down menus, social media icons will enhance your experience, and take you right to the page you’d like to visit.

The Great Australian Lamb Chase

(Lifestyle and Travel Trends) Permanent link

Boston’s lamb-loving food bloggers have been issued a tasty challenge. Who will win?
 
Wondering what they like to eat with their clam chowdah in Boston? We’ll make an educated guess: Australian Lamb! Indeed, a recent Meat & Livestock Australia survey shows that 21.5% of Bostonians surveyed have eaten lamb three or more times in the last six months.
 
With so many flavorful cuts, cooking techniques and recipe options, one can’t help but wonder what lamb dishes Beantowners enjoy the most. So, we’ve set out to challenge the people who really have their fingers on the pulse, or at least the WordPress “publish” button: the city’s top food bloggers. From now until Easter Sunday, a handful of Boston’s best are hot on the Australian Lamb trail, as part of The Great Australian Lamb Chase—an exciting and great-tasting extravaganza that, for one lucky blogger, will end with an excellent reward: two round-trip tickets Down Under.  

The bloggers’ missions: to snag some Aussie lamb and cook it at home or eat it out, then blog like mad and show us what they’ve got on our Facebook page
. Blog links—replete with videos, photos and the like—will be judged by a distinguished panel of Aussie lamb experts. An exclusive Aussie lamb bash will mark the end of the competition.  

Want to keep an eye on the action? Be sure to follow us on Facebook. Or, if you’re in the Boston area, you may spot The Great Australian Lamb Chase in real time. Retailers where you can find Australian Lamb include Boston Costco and Boston Stop & Shop stores. Participating are some of the city’s coolest food trucks, like Roxy’s Grilled Cheese and Staff Meal; and the city’s first Australian food shop, KO Catering and Pies

KO Catering and Pies is a retail food shop, take out and catering business that offers fresh food with an Australian theme. They’re the first Australian-inspired food business in New England. Signature menu items include traditional savory pies, barbequed grilled seafood and more. KO Catering and Pies uses and promotes the best of sustainable, locally sourced vendors in the delivery of premier Australian food. Check out KO’s How to Eat a Meat Pie for some Aussie food fun.

Roxy's Grilled Cheese has been spotted cruising the streets of Beantown, but you might recognize them better from The Great Food Truck Race. They serve up ingenious grilled cheese creations as they drive around Boston. They’re all about bread, cheese and rock & roll. Check them out on Facebook to spy their latest creations.

Staff Meal is a meal prepared by restaurant staff, for restaurant staff. They like to think they've made some pretty tasty staff meals over the years and they would like to share those meals with everyone. Catch them on the streets of Boston!

The Dining Car is a mobile food truck — a gleaming, stainless steel kitchen on wheels, serving freshly prepared meals on the streets of Boston. Their sandwiches are prepared on freshly baked breads continuously throughout the day. Their ever-changing menu features meats and seasonal produce that represent our local agricultural community, with selections inspired by cuisines from all over the world. Check out what they’re offering today on their Facebook page. 

Ban Boring Burgers to the Bush

(Lifestyle and Travel Trends) Permanent link

lifestyle-june2012Ohh, burgers. Any food you literally cradle in your hands (and whose glorious assembly once inspired its own Nintendo game) has to be special—and while May was the 'official' National Burger Month, we think every month should be national burger month. Especially if Australian lamb is involved. And, um, hello. It's grilling season!

However, while we are (with all due respect) telling the calendar to flip off, National Burger Month was a great time to size up the state of this cherished sandwich, to sink our teeth (and hopefully yours) into some fantastic recipes and menu offerings. A roundup:

The Traditional

Naturally, there's no better place to start a burger bonanza than with an iconic Aussie Lamb burger. We're talking 12 ounces of fresh Australian Lamb, topped with pickled beets, pineapple, bacon, fried egg and cheese. Just… try it.

The New Classics

The top chef creations that stole our hearts in last year's Plate magazine burger contest are still going (deliciously) strong. Don't miss this recipe for Kristina Vanni's Mediterranean Lamb Burger with Goat Cheese and Tomato Relish. Or, if you're in L.A., swing by the Jewel City Diner for Anthony Jacquet's winner, topped with cranberry compote, Brie cheese and jalapeño mayo.

The Greek

Because we're cool like that, we'll acknowledge that one popular lamb burger takes its inspiration not from the lovely country of Australia, but from Greece. At Chicago's DMK Burger Bar, Chef-owner Michael Kornick has concocted a grass-fed lamb burger garnished with sheep's milk feta, briny olive tapenade, Greek salad and tzatziki. In New York, The Breslin's award-winning April Bloomfield pairs her chargrilled version with feta and cumin mayo.

The Hybrid

While all fine and good, the ubiquitous black and bleu burger and the mushroom-and-Swiss burger are just a tad bo-ring. At top-rated San Francisco pub, The Chieftain, they're spicing things up with their best-of-both worlds lamb burger, topped with melted bleu cheese, caramelized red onions and grilled mushrooms. If you Google this delectable signature dish, you'll spot "awesome" and "to die for" early on in reviews.

Seasonal Sensation

Another reason why you shouldn't limit your burger intake to the month of May: you might miss out on fresh, seasonal ingredients! Example: during National Burger Month, Michael Mina's Wit & Wisdom in Baltimore paired their juicy lamb burger with tiger sauce (aioli made with fresh spring ramps and horseradish), grilled picked red onions, romaine and confit tomatoes. Can't wait to see their lineup for summer and fall.

Beef-Buster

Texas isn’t exactly lamb country (for now, anyway) but owner Mike Hoque, Nafees Alam, and the team at Dallas Chop House are really breaking the beef-y mold. Seasoned with exotic Indian spices, swadled in brioche, and topped with tzatziki and pickled cucumbers, their lamb burger is as innovative as its Dallas origin may be surprising. Nice bonus: a side of Truffle-Parmesan fries.

A Brand New (Totally Helpful) Aussie Lamb Cookbook

(Lifestyle and Travel Trends) Permanent link

Sure, many of today’s tech-savvy cooks are finding recipes online. We have more than 100 of our own on our newly revamped website. However, it’s also true that the kitchen, with its bubbling pots and hot ovens, isn’t always the best place to be looking at recipes on a laptop or smartphone. As the perfect complement to your online experience, be sure to snag your free copy of our exciting new cookbook, A World of Flavor.

Your passport to the exciting world of Australian Lamb, A World of Flavor will take you around the world to sample some of the finest and simplest recipes with regional flare. From Brazilian Style Butterflied Leg of Lamb with Chimichurri Sauce to Aussie Lamb, Mushroom and Beer Pot Pies, you'll see why lamb is a global staple. And that’s not all. Get ready for:

 

 

 

  • Colorful Photos. Who knew lamb could look so good? Our newest, full-bleed photos will really help you get excited for your meal. Use the photo index at the back of the book to plan an impressive dish for any occasion.
  • A Recipe for Every Cut. From the rack to the classic leg, you’ll find a recipe for every cut. The clear, easy-to-read ingredient lists offer plenty of inspiration for mixing and matching different cuts and seasonings, too.
  • Nutritional Stats. Protein-packed and vitamin-rich, Australian Lamb is always a healthy choice. See for yourself and choose the recipes that are exactly right for your diet with a detailed breakdown of every lamb dish.
  • Clear, Detailed Index. Too busy to flip through pages? No problem. Use this well-organized list to plan your meal by cut, cooking method or ingredient.
  • Cooking Guide. Learn about the differences in Aussie lamb cooking temperatures with an easy-to-follow chart, tips and photos.

…Did we mention this great Aussie lamb resource is without cost? Use this form  

 

 

 

 

*We deliver to the United States, Canada, and Mexico only. One book per household, please. Allow 4-6 weeks for delivery.

Crowd-Pleasing Easter Wine Tips

(Beverage Pairing Trends) Permanent link

With its tasty lamb and cornucopia of spring produce, Easter is a holiday when pretty much anything goes, wine-wise. The rich, fruit-packed reds that paired so well with your winter holiday lamb are certainly worthy of a reappearance; or, do as they do in countries surrounding the Mediterranean (home to some of the world’s oldest Easter traditions) and go for higher-acid, medium-alcohol reds like Chianti. Delightful-with-lamb whites like Chardonnay, that make the perfect refreshment on a warm spring day, are also worth keeping in your differential.

Regardless of which style you choose, offering one red and one white is a surefire way to satisfy your Easter crowd. Here’s how to make it work:

Dynamic Duos
If your guests will be drinking both wine styles, it’s always good to choose a red and a white from the same region.They won’t taste the same, of course, but other characteristics like fruit ripeness and alcohol (that tend to be influenced by a region’s climate and geography) are likely to be in balance.

Which Comes First?  
White wines are usually served before reds, as classy aperitifs or refreshing meal starters. Whites-before-reds isn’t an absolute…but if you go there, you may find that the tannin in some red wines (especially Old World reds like Bordeaux) adds a sharp, astringent edge to the whites. 

Temperature
Serve Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and other lighter whites icy cold. Chill Chardonnay and fuller-bodied whites in the fridge for about 30 minutes (ice bucket optional after that). Give delicate reds like Pinot Noir about 1015 minutes in the fridge. Finally, keep fuller-bodied reds like Cabernet at room temperature, unless your room is very warm (say, above 72°F). At that point, you might want a few minutes of chill time, as “room temperature” is considered to be around 60°F.

Glasses
From your grandfather’s homemade jug wine to that 1982 Margaux in your cellar, there’s a glass out there for nearly every wine. What most drinkers really need: good all-purpose red and white glasses. Ideal red glasses have a shorter stem with a wide bowl, designed to increase the surface area of the wine (and unleash complex aromas and flavors). White wines benefit from glasses with a narrow bowl and opening, a means of keeping the wine cool and drawing their fragrant aromas upward. 

Decanting
Typically intended for reds, decanting (pouring your wine into a glass pitcher or jug) is a great way to maximize enjoyment. Again, the idea is to increase wine surface area. If time allows, give your wine an hour or so to breathe (tip: if you’re roasting lamb, pour the wine in the decanter when the meat goes into the oven). In a rush? Try “splash decanting”—pour the wine back and forth a few times between two vessels. Decanter-less? Mimic the process by filling your red wine glasses halfway about 20 minutes before dinner. Have everyone give their glass a good swirl before trying the wine, and you should be good to go!

Ale Summer!

(Beverage Pairing Trends) Permanent link

drink-juneGot blue skies, friends in the yard and lamb on the grill? Just one other thing's needed to complete this pleasant picture: a crisp, refreshing summer ale. While many craft breweries state the obvious by listing "Summer Ale" on the label, it also helps to have a sense what makes a great warm-weather brew, so you don’t miss any tasty choices. Labeled "Summer Ale" or otherwise, here are five low-alcohol, lightly-hopped contenders.

Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale, Lyons, Colorado

http://www.oskarblues.com/the-brews/dales-pale-ale
"One of the quintessential American hoppy pale ales of our time," says BeerAdvocate.com, of this Rocky Mountain gem. Clocking in at 6.5% ABV, this pale ale is a little hoppier than most summer-ready suds, but it's very well balanced. Full of malt and citrus, it's delightful with grilled lamb chops and burgers. Another reason why Dale’s belongs high on our summer beer list: it comes in a can. Bring on the easy party cleanup!  6.5% ABV.

Hoegaarden Original White Ale, Brouwerij van Hoegaarden, Belgium

http://www.hoegaarden.com/en-be/products/original_white.html
Nobody does refreshing wheat ales like the Belgians (for the record, they're not bad with fries, chocolate and waffles, either). Anyway, while you'll see this fine brew everywhere, Hoegaarden is no ordinary mass-market offering. Generally regarded as the classic example of its style, this "witbier" has been crafted since 1445 (kudos to the monks who made it first). Pale gold in color with cool coriander and orange notes, it's a quintessential summer ale. 4.9% ABV.

Stone Levitation Ale, Escondido, California

http://www.stonebrew.com/levitation/
Generously malted and hoppy but with a lower summer-appropriate alcohol content, this ale goes down easy with all-natural, additive-free Australian lamb. Also worth mentioning: the brewery's mission sounds awfully familiar: "We avoid dumbed-down flavor profiles and the vigorous pursuit of the lowest common denominator… we avoid additives, cheap adjuncts, stabilizers and chemical preservatives." Well put, mates! Sip in a tall, frosty glass. 4.4% ABV.

Bell's Oberon Ale, Kalamazoo, Michigan

http://www.bellsbeer.com/brands/8-Oberon Ale
Ask any fan of this cult favorite summer sipper, or simply read the label: this American wheat ale offers the color and scent of a sunny afternoon. Crafted with Bell's signature house ale yeast, it combines a spicy hop character with mildly fruity aromas. A touch of wheat malt adds smooth-yet-crisp texture. With its medium body and mix of savory and fruity flavors, this is one to try with this month's featured recipe.

New Belgium Somersault American Blonde Ale, Fort Collins, Colorado

http://www.newbelgium.com/beer/detail.aspx?id=84ea39a5-9587-4ff9-b178-28ee10cb5c0f
Who doesn't love an all-American blonde? Crisp, light-bodied, very lightly carbonated, and on the lower end of the calorie spectrum, this blonde ale from America's third largest craft brewery is quite a catch. Icing on the cake: it received a whopping 100 points on BeerAdvocate.com. Designed to be "a fun roll around on the tongue," it combines notes of apricot, citrus, ginger and oats. 5.2% ABV.

Drink Your Veggies

(Beverage Pairing Trends) Permanent link

We’ll always have James Bond’s (or Don Draper’s) classic martini and the Dude’s White Russian, but these days, cocktails have gotten a lot more interesting. A bevy of distinctive ingredients is the name of the game, and as anyone who’s sipped, say, a bacon martini can testify, expecting the unexpected is part of the fun. (Side note: we haven’t seen any lamb-tinis. Yet.)

With so many fruits and veggies at their peak, now is the perfect time to experiment. Here’s a look at what top American chefs and mixologists are doing with seasonal stars like beets and avocados. Give their recipes a try at home, for something delicious to sip while you grill some lamb.

Spring Star: Beets

More tender than their fall counterparts, spring beets offer a light, naturally sweeter flavor. They’re an ideal base for this cool Beet Martini from Stephanie Izard, Top Chef Season 4 winner and owner of acclaimed Chicago restaurant Girl & the Goat. The presence of fresh apple and orange juices makes this a delightful alternative to your run-of-the-mill fruity martini.

Spring Star: Fennel

Fennel and booze go way back, as this spring veggie (also considered an herb and a spice) is a main ingredient in the famous elixir absinthe. For this great-looking drink, Strawberry Fennel, mixologist Miguel Aranda of New York’s Apothéke concocts “Fennel bitters” with Grand Marnier, coriander, cloves and more, then combines the blend with traditional lime-based sour mix and fresh strawberries. The result is a complex treat that harmoniously plays to all five aspects of taste—sweet, salty, acidic, bitter and savory

Spring Star: Avocado

Vitamin-packed avocados are making their debut now—and they’re good for more than just guacamole. Bridget Albert, a master mixologist and co-author of Market Fresh Mixology (focused on making seasonal cocktails with fresh ingredients) makes a Savory Avocado Cocktail by mixing tequila, triple sec and lime juice with muddled avocado and tarragon. If you try it at home, you should know it’s excellent with spicy Latin flavors. Why not try it with some lamb burritos or empanadas?

Spring Star: Apricot

Apricots are one of the fruits that really hit their stride in spring. Chef Jeffrey Morgenthaler of renowned Portland restaurant Clyde Common whips up a Kentucky Breakfast Cocktail using bourbon, fresh apricot preserves and lime juice, plus the popular ingredient responsible for many a trendy cocktail’s light, frothy texture: egg whites. Here’s what else you should know: this delish “breakfast” drink can be sipped with a tasty lamb dinner, too.

 

Kings of the Cookout

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Hosting a backyard BBQ? In addition to the perfect playlist and plenty of cold beers, you’ll also want to have a little variety on your menu. Burgers are always a foolproof choice, and as option B, why not go for good-looking, palate-pleasing Australian Lamb chops?

This recipe duo is a great one to try. Even the most devout burger lover won’t be able to resist snagging a lamb chop or two, and both the chops and the burgers will conveniently pair with traditional BBQ side dishes like coleslaw and fruit salad. To really make your life easy, the burger and chop grill times are easy to coordinate. Your universal cooking formula: roughly four minutes per side, per piece of meat.

Mediterranean Lamb Burger

Iceberg lettuce, tomato and ketchup…who hasn’t been there and done that? Take your BBQ up a notch with this deliciously different, Mediterranean-inspired Australian Lamb burger, served with fresh greens, savory hummus and sun-dried tomatoes.

Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. lean ground Australian Lamb
  • 4 Green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 Tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 Tbsp. semi-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • Olive oil for brushing
  • 4 Multigrain rolls, halved horizontally
  • 3 oz. baby rocket (arugula) leaves
  • ⅓ c. hummus
  • 2 Tbsp. semi-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. flat parsley leaves

Method

Place the ground lamb in a bowl and add the chopped green onion, cumin, oregano and chopped semi-dried tomatoes. Form into 4 patties and refrigerate 1 hour. Heat a barbecue or char-grill pan. Brush the patties with oil and cook 3–4 minutes on each side or until cooked to your liking.

While the burgers are cooking, lightly barbecue the rolls. Then top the bottom half of each roll with ¼ of the rocket leaves and a cooked burger. Spoon a tablespoon of hummus on top of the burger and scatter with ¼ of the thinly sliced, semi-dried tomatoes and ¼ of the parsley leaves. Finish with the top half of the roll.

 

Wildfire Smoked Australian Lamb Chops

Australian Lamb chops may look fancy, but they’re easy to prepare and loaded with flavor. Select light red, lightly textured meat with firm, white fat. Cook to medium rare (light pink), allowing for resting time. Slice the double-rib pieces into individual chops, if desired. 

Servings: 4–6

Ingredients

  • 2 8-bone racks of baby Australian Lamb rib chops
  • 3 Tbsp. paprika, smoked or plain
  • Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • 1/2 Tsp. white pepper
  • 1/8 c. Vic Cherikoff DownUnder Kakadu Wild Fire Pepper Sauce (Available at Whole Foods Market)
  • 2 Tbsp. quality extra virgin olive oil

To Serve

  • Vegetables
  • Light spinach salad
  • Glass of rosé

Method

Cut lamb racks in half. Rub with paprika, sea salt and pepper. Brush with Vic Cherikoff DownUnder Kakadu Wild Fire Pepper Sauce.

Preheat grill to 400°F and wipe lightly with olive oil to season. Sear racks on medium heat, 4 minutes each side.

Grill at 400°F for a total of 12–15 minutes, or roast in oven at 350°F for 15–20 minutes. Baste with Vic Cherikoff DownUnder Kakadu Wild Fire Pepper Sauce while in the final cooking stages.

Cut each rack in half again. For a dramatic presentation, lean the double chops against each other over vegetables on the plate. Drizzle a thin version of the Kakadu sauce around the plate for garnish.

Tip

Don't rest the lamb too long (i.e. more than a minute) as it is best served quite pink.

Perfect Spring Brews

(Beverage Pairing Trends) Permanent link

Transition your mug from winter to summer with these fantastic spring brews.

Trees are in bloom, temperatures are rising and we’re rocking odd combinations like scarves and sandals. Spring has officially sprung, and for lovers of American craft beers, that means one thing: it’s time for some of the year’s most sought-after brews. We’re talking pale ales, copper ales and the like, whose not-too-light, not-too-dark character hits the spot as we say goodbye to winter and await the summer sun. These flavorful, refreshing selections really jive with lamb: 
 
Sierra Nevada Glissade Golden Bock – Chico, CA 6.4% abv.
A lighter take on a traditional German bock (malt) beer with just a touch of sweetness, Glissade is made for sipping “as winter begins its slide toward the sunny days of spring.” Subtle malt flavor mixes with airy citrus, spice and floral aromas, courtesy of specially selected European hops. Easy-drinking and crowd-pleasing, this is one you’ll want on hand when you fire up the grill for that first backyard BBQ (or some easy Tuesday night lamb shanks).

Blue Point Spring Fling Pale Ale – Patchogue, NY 5.2% abv
Who needs romance when you’ve got this hoppy-but-delicate copper ale to woo you? Conceived as a cross between a malty German beer and a zesty American IPA, it’s crisp and refreshing, with nutty, honeyed undertones. Make a tasty sandwich with the leftover roast lamb from Saturday’s dinner party and kick back with this Blue Point on a sunny Sunday afternoon. 

Ninkasi Spring Reign Ale – Eugene, OR 6.0% abv
A crowd-pleaser with an edgy label, this seasonal ale combines a lightly toasted malt flavor (like you’d get in a British Ale) with crisp, citrusy American hops. Fun fact: the ancient Sumerians worshipped the beer they made, and praised the Goddess Ninkasi for the miracle of fermentation. Consider the fact they also loved lamb, and we’ll let you guess what they were eating with their heavenly beer. 
 
Dogfish Head Aprihop India Pale Ale – Rehoboth Beach, DE 7.0% abv
This “massively hopped” India Pale Ale is brewed with Pilsner and Crystal malts and (you guessed it) apricots. Rest assured, it tastes more beer-y than apricot-y, but the addition of the fruit makes for appealing aromas and flavors notes that marry well with the rich character of the hops. A winner with lamb chili or a juicy lamb burger.

FYI! These seasonal brews are all fantastic with meat pies, like these lamb-and mushroom-loaded delights: 
http://www.australian-lamb.com/Lamb/Recipes/Lamb,_Mushroom_and_Beer_Pot_Pies/

Featured Video: Lamb on the Barbie

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Contrary to popular American belief, Aussies don’t actually throw a lot of shrimp on the barbie. Lamb, however, is another story—and if you’re looking for a quick and easy meal (or tasty appetizer) Australian Lamb cutlets are the way to go. In this video, Chef Stephen will show you just how simple they are to grill.

Meet the Chef: Dirk Flanigan

(Meet the Chef) Permanent link

Stroll down Chicago’s famed Michigan Avenue near Millennium Park, and it’s impossible to miss the area’s culinary anchor—300-seat gastropub The Gage, and its next-door neighbor and upscale-French sister restaurant, Henri.

The culinary success of both establishments can be attributed to Chef Dirk Flanigan, the 2011 StarChefs “Rising Star” award winner whose long list of critical acclaim includes “excellent” three-star ratings and “Best New Restaurant” from the Chicago Tribune.

So far, Chef Dirk’s had a busy year. With the success of Henri and The Gage firmly under his belt, he departed the restaurants in January. In February, he headed Down Under for an Australian Red Meat paddock to plate tour with Meat & Livestock Australia, Plate Magazine and the International Corporate Chefs Association. These days, Chef Dirk’s getting ready to kick off the next chapter in his exciting career—his own restaurant, a French-Italian concept called Il Coniglio. He’ll continue to showcase his “refined rusticity” style, and put his classical training and constant desire for innovation to good use.

We recently caught up with Chef Dirk to talk about Australian Lamb, his cooking philosophy and approach to sustainability, and any tips he’d offer for bringing sustainability and Australian Lamb into your home kitchen.

The Aussie Difference 

“I was blown away by how green it is,” said Chef Dirk, of his trip to Australia, where he spent lots of time in SUVs visiting many of the country’s farms, including Ray Vella’s family-owned, 18,000-acre ranch at Bald Hills, in Marlborough, Queensland. “You hear the term ‘grass-fed,’ and here, it’s like really, really grass-fed.” Another thing that impressed him was the time-tested nature of sustainable Australian farming practices, aimed at making smart use of farming byproducts and minimizing waste.   

Consider the Source 

Beyond meeting farmers on his travels, Chef Dirk has made relationships with his product suppliers a priority throughout his career. “My relationships with some of my purveyors stretch back more than 20 years… to the point that some of them are now retiring and introducing me to their replacements.” Chef cites these close relationships and the ability to rely on high-quality products as being among the reasons for his success—and suggests that knowing where one’s food comes from is an important component of sustainability for the home cook. 

Beyond the Chop

“I cook with a sustainable approach because that’s how I think,” says Chef Dirk. For chefs and home cooks alike, another way to maximize sustainable eating is to look beyond common lamb cuts like rack of lamb. “Using more economical or less common cuts of meat is an important component of sustainability,” says Chef. One dish recommendation: a savory Australian Lamb Navarin, a lamb shoulder stew. 

Tip to Try 

Many less common lamb cuts, like lamb shoulder, reward with marinating time. If the weather or your schedule aren’t ideal for a BBQ, Chef suggests that you can still create a grill-like flavor with one of his favorite Australian Lamb seasonings: charred herbs. Bruise or lightly crush a few sprigs of rosemary (to release their oils), then lightly char them over a gas burner. Add the charred herbs to a foodsaver bag with garlic and olive oil and marinate. The cooked Australian Lamb will offer a bewitching, smoky essence, and taste great as leftovers. 

Read more about Chef Dirk Flanigan here.

The Perfect Pie

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Lamb Pie Recipe ImageLong an Aussie favorite, meat pies have become all the rage here in the U.S., with trendy pie shops opening in cities across the country. These golden, flaky-crusted delights are a far cry from the mystery meat pies of decades past. You'll discover plenty of fresh, tasty meats and veggies in offerings like the Braised Lamb Shank at Boston's KO Catering and Pies, or the Curry Lamb pie at The Australian Bakery Café in Marietta, Georgia.

Australian Lamb pies are also a snap to make at home, for an easy, savory meal—and wonderful leftovers are guaranteed, if you can bear to keep any around. In this easy recipe, tender Australian Lamb is simmered in beer and divided into four individual pastry shells. Brushing the shells with an egg wash helps to give them a beautiful golden color, and roasting the pies is a must, to achieve that right combination of savory, juicy flavor and firm-yet-flaky crust. While the pie is in the oven, kick back with the rest of the beer and get ready for warm, comforting aromas to fill your kitchen. 

Lamb Mushroom and Beer Pot Pies

Servings

4

Prep/Cooking Time

2¼ hours

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds Australian boneless lamb shoulder or leg, cubed
  • ½ cup plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cups light beer
  • 1 pound small portabella mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 package puff pastry sheets, thawed
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Black sesame seeds

To Serve

  • Creamy mashed potatoes and vegetables

Method

Place the diced lamb, flour, nutmeg and salt and pepper into a bag or bowl and toss to make sure all the lamb is well coated.

Heat the oil in a medium-heavy pot over medium-high heat. Cook lamb until browned on all sides, about eight minutes. Add the beer and stir well to combine. Bring to a simmer. Cover, and reduce heat to medium-low. Gently simmer until lamb is tender, about one hour, stirring at intervals to avoid sticking.

Stir in the prepared mushrooms, adjust seasonings to taste. Allow to simmer for 10–15 minutes with the lid removed, until the juices are reduced and thickened. Allow to cool completely. Divide stew among four small pie dishes. Cut four 7-inch squares of pastry. Cover each pot pie with a pastry square, allowing it to drape over the sides. Refrigerate until cold, approximately 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Brush pie tops with egg wash and sprinkle with black sesame seeds. Bake pies on a rimmed baking sheet until crusts are golden brown, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Serve with creamy mashed potatoes and vegetables of your choice.

Snag an Aussie Lamb pie at one of the shops below, and share your experience!
KO Catering and Pies, Boston
Australian Bakery Café, Marietta (just outside of Atlanta)

The Great Aussie BBQ

(Lifestyle and Travel Trends) Permanent link

In America, we have life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. “In Australia, where gas barbecues can be found in just about every backyard and balcony in the country, barbecuing is considered an inalienable right,” says CNN Travel

Other cultures (the French, the Mongolians), may have incorporated grilling into their culinary repertoire, but in Australia, firing up the barbie is practically a way of life. So, too, is the idea of laid-back outdoor eating enjoyment that grilling implies. Case in point: it’s no coincidence that “One Continuous Picnic” is the title of a famous book on the history of Australian eating! 

Early Days of the “Chop Picnic” 

BBQ really came to be recognized as an important part of the Aussie lifestyle in the 1960s, when the “chop picnic”—the act of resting a mesh grill over a fire with a few bricks to cook a few chops—became part of the Aussie vernacular. In his book Meat, Metal and Fire–the Legendary Aussie BBQ, author Mark Thomson says “we love the great outdoors so much that something like that great Australian tradition, the barbie, was inevitable.”  

A Common Misconception

Outside of Australia, any mention of Australian “barbecue” may bring up the oft-quoted “throw another shrimp on the barbie!” spoken by Crocodile Dundee star Paul Hogan in a series of 1984 Australian Tourism Commission television commercials. While Hogan’s quip (which was actually “I'll slip an extra shrimp on the barbie for you”) became popular with American tourists, saying it to an Aussie will likely get you a (friendly) groan. Among the reasons why: Down Under, shrimp are called “prawns.” And, while you’ll see them at BBQs, meaty lamb chops and sausages are much more common. They’re usually accompanied by corn on the cob, potatoes and fresh salads.  

Throwing Your Own Australian Lamb BBQ 

As with an American BBQ, selecting the right kind of meat is the first step in the process. You can grill nearly any cut of Australian Lamb, from tender cuts like loin chops to a classic butterflied leg of lamb, or denuded top sirloin for lamb kebabs. Whichever you choose, it’s best to sear your meat quickly on both sides to start, to create a flavorful crust and to seal in the juices. After this, resist the urge to flip too often to avoid drying out the meat. Flip only once and avoid pricking the meat to keep juices in. 

Finishing Touches 

As any Aussie can testify, the key to a successful grill is to have fun and keep it simple. While fresh meats like Australian Lamb are easy to customize to your heart’s content, there’s nothing wrong with a super-simple marinade of red wine or beer with olives and garlic. And, what about the sauce? As told to CNN Travel by Miccal Cummins of Sydney catering company Gastronomy, “We go all out with the sauces: two kinds of chili, homemade mustard and chunky tomato relish so you get all these really different flavors in the one meal.”

The Cowpers

(Meet the Farmer) Permanent link

The CowpersFrom paddock to plate, Australia's Red Meat and Livestock industry makes an important contribution to sustainability—environmental, economic and social.

With their unique production systems and commitment to striving for continuous improvement, Australia's ranchers are recognized around the world as leaders in producing some of the world’s best red meat, while leading the way in environmental farming practices.

The Cowper Ranch

Andrew and Lesley Cowper have been ranching in Australia for decades. For the last thirteen years, they’ve managed their own 18,226-acre ranch in the grasslands of Central Western Queensland, raising Merino (wool-producing) sheep and Santa Gertrudis cattle (a breed that originated in Texas, USA), and also joining their cull ewes to White Suffolk rams for the prime lamb market. Hard work and sustainable, responsible ranching have always been key drivers of their operation.

A Day in the Life

On a typical day, Andrew and Lesley are up at 5 a.m. (or 6 a.m. in winter). After breakfast (which often includes an Australian Lamb chop), they begin to tackle their to-do list: stock work, mustering, fencing, delving the bore drains (streams that flow from an artesian bore through the paddocks to provide water to stock), vehicle maintenance, and overseeing sheep and lamb shearing, crutching, and marking. During Australia’s scorching summers, a midday break is a must to beat the heat, which regularly tops 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

A Healthy Environment

"We have hundreds of thousands of square miles of semi-arid country ideally suited to the raising of livestock (and not much else). It's a very healthy environment for stock, with limited requirements for chemicals," says Andrew, of what sets Australian ranching (and its product) apart.

Like many Australian ranchers, the Cowpers realize the importance of keeping both their land and their stock in excellent condition. Energy-saving windmills are used for watering stock. They try to stock according to the season, and constant upgrading of the quality of the stock with rigorous culling is also a priority. They shear early in January and lamb in early March, when they've ideally got green feed (grass) from the wet summer season, a condition that contributes to optimum animal health.

To encourage the regeneration of native trees and shrubs, the Cowpers have also stocked their ranch more lightly than it had been previously, and they try to keep their mobs of sheep and cattle at less than the recommended stocking rate. Additionally, they have protected little trees from the stock by “pig-penning” old fence posts around them. Paddocks are either sub-divided or dedicated to different types of stock in a manner that accommodates the grazing behavior of both sheep and cattle, and also works to prevent erosion and promote re-grassing. In general, "we've always run our operation very simply," says Lesley.

Lamb Fans

When they're not hard at work, Andrew and Lesley like to kick back and enjoy some Australian Lamb. Here’s a great-for-spring recipe inspired by their favorite dish, roast lamb with mint sauce and baked vegetables.

For more on the sustainability practices and initiatives of Australia’s ranchers, click here.