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The Home Plate - Life and Lamb

Grilling Tips from the Pros

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We asked two chefs - who know a thing or two about the grill – for their top tips for summer grilling with Aussie lamb.

Biscayne Waterfront Marriott Miami Chef Joe Natoli:

Chef Joe Natoli“Start with a great product, like an Aussie lamb loin chop or other loin cut. Bring it to room temperature just before grilling; that helps you get that nice crust, but with a tender, moist interior.”

“Be careful not to overcook it – grassfed lamb, especially loin cuts, are naturally leaner, so they can dry out if you cook it too long.”

“At our restaurant, Catch, we like to use what we call “Catch Dust” - a blend of Aleppo pepper, sea salt, lemon zest, and parsley. It’s an all-purpose seasoning that’s simple, flavorful, and works really well with just about everything – but especially lamb on the grill.”


Four Seasons Miami Executive Chef Aaron Brooks:

Chef Aaron Brooks (Edge)“Use strong, earthy seasonings and marinades. They match well with the smokiness from the grill, and the deeper flavors of lamb, and the combination is awesome. I go for a spice blend that’s similar to the Egyptian spice ras al hanout. Korean gochugang, and chipotles are fantastic, too.”

“A real showstopper is a boneless lamb leg – usually roasted or braised, but you can pound it to a one-inch thickness, dust it with bold spices, and toss it on the grill. It’s similar to a flank steak, with great flavor and marbling.”

It’s time for a different burger

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The all-American burger has been getting a lift lately from the better-burger mania that’s swept the nation. In addition to new toppings from duck eggs to fois gras, sauces and spices from all over the globe, and crazy buns from donuts to bagels, chefs and consumers are getting hooked on new burger meats. Salmon, turkey and even meatless patties are showing up more and more, but we have our eye on one burger in particular – the lamb burger!


Studies have shown that consumer interest in lamb burgers is up 50% from a year ago, and there are eight times more lamb burgers on menus today from just last year. Why? Maybe it’s because word is getting out that grass-fed Aussie lamb is sustainable, naturally pure and lean, and packed with health benefits. Or maybe they’re discovering the great taste of lamb and the pleasure of trying something different.

You’ll find some of our favorite burger recipes here.

Meet the Chef - Conor Hanlon

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Chef Conor HanlonAussie Lamb lovers, meet Conor Hanlon, Chef de Cuisine of The Dutch at W South Beach. Conor’s dish, Australian Lamb Saddle with Goat Cheese Polenta and Romesco, has won the Miami Spring Fling menu competition. As the grand prize winner, Chef Hanlon will now be flown to Australia to visit the continent’s beef and lamb production regions, and visit Sydney to sample some of Australia’s multi-cultural dining scene. For a look at last year’s trip, click here

“I'm incredibly humbled to be included in this excursion to Australia; seeing where my ingredients come from is a huge priority for me.” says Conor. “I look forward to seeing how the climate and terroir effect the quality and flavor.”

The winning dish was developed as an item for The Dutch Miami’s summer menu, and a way to use a red meat alternative to increasingly pricey beef. “We wanted something that would look vibrant on the plate, and taste bright and flavorful on the palate as well.” explains Conor. The combination of the rich and rustic polenta sticks with the bold, smoky romesco, and the sweetness of the roasted summer veggies and confit’d tomatoes, brings out the best in the lamb saddle.

“I love Aussie lamb because it has a remarkably clean flavor and is nice and lean. Our guests here in South Florida are pretty conscious about what they’re eating, and want leaner proteins, so the saddle is the perfect cut.”

Tasting the dish, the judges loved the flavor balance and perfectly cooked, moist and tender meat. So what’s the Chef’s secret to using a lean cut like saddle? “People often overcook or slice their leaner meats too quickly,“ says Conor. “With a proper rest and short cooking time, you get a much better result.”

And then there’s the “fat corner” in the walk-in. Not wanting to waste anything, Conor and his team store carefully rendered fat from bacon, duck and lamb, often infusing them with flavors from garlic and rosemary, as he does with the lamb. A little of the infused lamb fat is basted on the saddle in the romesco dish, and it’s the cooking fat that starts his lamb Bolognese, another staple on The Dutch’s menu. “A little goes a long way,” says Conor. “You get that delicious, unctuous flavor and mouthfeel, but you can still use a leaner piece of meat.”

As a chef, Conor feels a responsibility to help his guests discover new flavors and less familiar ingredients, like lamb. “We’re in a position to use our training and skills to make new foods look appealing to the eye, seem approachable, and show how good they can taste.” He explains. “It’s rewarding to see someone’s perceptions change after just one bite.”