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Aussie Meat Trends

Aussie lamb in Cajun country

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cajun lamb chopsWe’ve been glued to Chef Will Staten’s Instagram and Chef's Roll pages lately, as he’s been cooking up our Aussie grassfed beef and lamb in a boatload of delicious ways. From Indian Red Curry Marinated Rack of Lamb, with a creamy Raita sauce, charred cocktail onions, and curry masala roasted potatoes, to Mediterranean Spiced Lamb Shawarma with locally grown romaine lettuce, tomatoes, fresh, chopped chunky tzatziki sauce and garlic infused feta cheese. But it was his signature Cajun preparations that really had us going, like these Cajun Seared Lamb Chops using Slap Ya Mama seasoning with four-cheese grits, roasted garlic and a honey, Worcestershire and Sriracha pan sauce.

“I’ll often test concepts on my girlfriend, who’s not necessarily the most adventurous eater. She’s not usually a lamb fan, but these disappeared so fast I had to make a second batch so I could eat! I marinate the lamb overnight in Slap Ya Mama, and a Worcestershire and hot sauce marinade. Pull them out and pat dry, sprinkle a little more seasoning, and sear in a little EVOO, then let them rest. The grits are yellow stone ground grits cooked in chicken stock, beer and milk, with butter and heavy cream and my cheeses (Gouda, sharp white cheddar, Parmesan and shredded mozzarella). The Aussie lamb is fork-tender, lean and peppery-spicy, so the richness is a nice counterpoint. For the pan sauce, I deglaze with chicken stock and whisk in Worcestershire, Orange Blossom Honey and Sriracha, and mount it with a little butter. So simple, and so good.”

We’re in! You bring the food, we’ll meet you at the bar with some cold stubbies. See you in Vegas, Chef!

Ingredients that love our lamb: Cajun flavors

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cajun marinated grassfed steakHaving a chat with our new mate Chef Will “Dubs” Staten made us wise to a lot of things about his favorite Cajun cuisine. For starters, did you know the classic “blackened” fish is supposed to be black from the pepper, not charred black? Or that Cajun is not the same as creole? While creole cooking is emblematic of the city of New Orleans (shout out to you NOLA!), true Cajun cooking hails from the rural areas of southwest Louisiana, and is “poor man’s food.” Cajuns were descendants of French-Canadian settlers, living off the land without access to fancy ingredients or kitchens, so there are a lot of one-pot meals, and proteins from duck to pigeon or lamb. Aside from the ducks and pigeons part, that sounds like rural Australia to us, mate! They’d use oil or lard, not butter, and always the “trinity” of onion, celery and green pepper.

As Chef Staten attests, the flavor profiles of classic dishes like jambalaya and gumbo are fantastic with lamb. The classic Cajun spice mix (Will recommends Slap Ya Mama) of paprika, a little bit of cayenne with heavy doses of black and white pepper does Aussie lamb up right. A quick squizz* at Chef Staten’s instagram and you’ll see what we mean: Cajun marinated and seared Aussie grassfed steak, Cajun seared lamb chops with four-cheese grits and a honey-Sriracha pan sauce. More on those lamb chops here, including the recipe…

*Aussie slang for “a look”

A soupçon of wisdom: Soups and stews with Aussie Lamb

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lamb miso ramen soupFresh off our culinary immersion in San Francisco, Chef Andrew Hunter dishes up his thoughts on cooking soups and stews with Aussie lamb: 

 
“When it comes to Aussie lamb soups and stews, lamb shoulder is my number one go-to. Shoulder really benefits from long and slow cooking, and it pays you back with fantastic flavor that permeates your dish. Even after long cook-times, it will hold integrity and bite. It browns nicely, with a good fat/lean ratio. You can treat it simply, and Aussie lamb will speak for itself in the best way!” 

 
“Always start by searing and caramelizing the lamb with a fat that fits your soup. So for something Italian or Mediterranean like minestrone, use olive oil. Then brighten it with a bit of lemon zest, and let it cook to tender in a little tomato broth. For presentation, build your bowl with the lamb, white beans, chopped tomatoes and fresh herbs. Pour your soup broth over the top for a dramatic effect. For broth, I recommend using chicken stock for a nice neutral savoriness; you can cook it with the lamb bone to add some depth and richness without overwhelming it.”
 
 

Soups on!

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burnt soupTis the season for #Aussome soups and stews, taking the chill off of whatever weather Mother Nature can dish out. One of our favorites right now is what our mates Chef Josh Balague and Chef Sophina Uong developed on a culinary training day with us. They call it “Burnt Winter Soup with Garlic Lamb,” and in addition to the Aussie lamb, charred and roasted veggies, it has a jasmine tea brodo that gets poured tableside for extra show points. We’ll let Josh tell you about it!

“The backbone of it is the broth. We made a lamb broth and steeped the tea in it, then deepened the flavors even more by adding charred vegetables. The lamb is ground Aussie lamb, stewed in the broth with lots of garlic and then sautéed to brown it. We grilled Chinese mustard along with the onions, carrots and shiitakes. All that goes in the bowl with a little hit of gochujang vinaigrette — just for fun, and to add a bit of heat and acid. Then the broth gets poured over tableside; I like to involve the guest in the “show” where it makes sense.”


It’s the kind of dish that would make sense at Nuri, the concept Chef Balague is co-developing with Ethan Speizer. A casual wine bar targeting a younger crowd, with food inspired by the Far East and Southeast Asia. Let us know when you’re open Josh, and save us a seat!

Meet the farmer: Jim Gaylard

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Jim Gaylard This week we share a chat with Jim Gaylard, a family lamb rancher who recently hosted Evandro Caregnato from the Texas de Brazil restaurant chain on a visit Down Under. Here’s what he had to say about the visit, and about life on Trawalla Pastoral, his mixed operation of lamb, cattle and crop farming about 100 miles west of Melbourne.

I loved meeting Evandro and his family. It was great to see a man equally passionate about the product he uses as I am about producing it. We are always really proud to show chefs who use our product what we do here at Trawalla, and for them to see the environment we raise our lambs in, which gives them the quantity and consistent quality for their restaurants.

Q: 4000 hectares is a very large property — especially for our city dweller American readers! That’s over twice the size of the entire city of San Francisco. As a family farm, how do you manage that, and how many sheep are you raising?

It’s a team effort for sure, between my family and an experienced team of Jackeroos*, we’re like a huge family all working together running 12,000 ewes and producing 14-16,000 lambs per year.

Q: What are some of the sustainability initiatives you have in place or planned at Trawalla Pastoral?

One of the most impactful and yet simple programs we implemented was a series of tree plantations. The shelter provides help with erosion, pasture drying and animal welfare for exposure and shade in the hot summer months.

Q: What’s your philosophy when it comes to animal welfare — what’s the role of the rancher in giving sheep the “good life” under your care?

Animal welfare is always front of mind. Clean water, good shelter and adequate feed are the keys to a successful livestock business, and we pride ourselves on making sure we provide them. We also work hard to reduce stress on the animals, moving and monitoring them with minimal intervention. In the end, if our animals are happy then that makes us happy. If I could take the sheep home on a cold winter’s night, I would, although my wife probably wouldn't like to share the house with a mob of bleating lambs!!


*Aussie slang for a young ranch-hand

The best bisteeya

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We’re loving this recipe for Bisteeya from Chef Kwame Unwuachi of The Shaw Bijou in Washington DC, and not just because it features Aussie lamb! First off, it’s kind of a riff on meat pie, and there’s not much we Aussies love in this world more than that. Second, he’s using a technique we love. First, he sears and then slow-braises Aussie lamb shoulder in a flavorful broth, then shreds and presses it in a hotel pan overnight. Next, it’s cut in portions and seared again to crisp it up for service. This technique is what Janine Booth and Jeff McInnis do at Root & Bone in NYC for their “meatloaf ,” and how you make scrumpets . All delicious, every time, and super-simple to execute in a restaurant kitchen.

Bisteeya1But we digress. Back to Chef Kwame’s Bisteeya. Traditionally, the bisteeya was a pigeon pie made with braised pigeon, lots of cinnamon and spices, and a kind of phyllo dough. Switching to Aussie lamb was an obvious upgrade, but he keeps the signature flavors intact with plenty of ras el hanout , the king of Moroccan spices. French feuilles de brik is his chosen pastry, rolled around a cylinder and fried, then filled with some of the braised lamb. The juices from the braise are sweetened with a little coconut sugar, and reduced to a syrupy sauce. To take it over the top, powdered sugar and mushroom powder are the final garnishes for a sweet-savory masterpiece.

Bravo Chef!

The Ivy League goes Down Under

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martin trip 1
You may have seen from our Facebook feed or on YouTube that a group of chefs recently went Down Under with us on a tour of Aussie beef and lamb farms. One of the talented chefs in our group was Martin Breslin, Executive Chef and Director for Culinary Operations at Harvard University Dining Services (HUDS). We caught up with Chef Breslin after his return to see what impressions from the trip had stayed with him, and what Harvard students and faculty are thinking about grassfed beef and lamb.

martin trip 4What’s stuck with you after seeing Aussie beef and lamb farms firsthand?
It was amazing to see what "pasture raised" really means with my own eyes… to watch the cattle and lambs feeding on natural grasses and clovers, outside and unconfined. It reminded me of what I saw growing up in Ireland. The people we met were amazing too. They are totally devoted to what they do, and enjoyed teaching us about it, obviously taking great pride in their craft and what they do for the animals and the land. And you really can taste the difference that this kind of practice has on the meat; it’s hard to describe, but there’s a distinct natural flavor in grassfed beef that’s frankly delicious.

What’s next for Aussie beef and lamb on campus at Harvard?
Thanks to this experience, I have a richer understanding of the good animal welfare and husbandry practices in Australia. It’s a topic that matters to some of our students, and one we’d really like to address in our purchasing with the right solution, which may well mean featuring something like Aussie proteins.

How are you using Aussie meats today?
We currently serve Australian Lamb in our catering department, but are looking into Aussie grassfed beef now as well. At our size and scale, the economics matter a lot. We hold sustainability as a core value and love local, and supporting small farmers, but we also have to find solutions that translate to scale and still embody those values. We’re hopeful that grassfed beef from Australia can be part of that solution.

If you’re ready to step up your game to the Ivy League, here’s a delicious dish that Chef Breslin cooked up with us: an Aussie Lamb Noodle Bowl. As you’d expect, it’s smartly done — a fair amount of prep, but with the lamb braised and mix-ins made ahead, it comes together in a flash. Cheers Chef! You’re welcome back Down Under anytime…