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Aussie Meat Trends

Meet the Farmer: Allan Piggott

(Only In Australia, Meet the Farmer) Permanent link
Allan PiggottIn this month’s edition of the Meat Mail, we talk with 3rd generation sheep rancher Allan Piggott from Tailem Bend, South Australia. 

MLA: 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.

MLA: 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.

MLA: 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.

MLA: What should Americans know about lamb from Australia, from your ranch, and more generally?
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, such as marbling and intramuscular fat. 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.

MLA: 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.

MLA: 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

Featured Chef: Josh Elliott

(Featured Chef) Permanent link
Josh Elliott Headshot 1In this month’s edition of the Meat Mail, 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 favourite 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 Elliott DishJosh’s team made Spanish meatballs, albondigas, using lamb hind shank. The shanks were ground, then 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.

“We also did a little take on the classic prosciutto and melon, first compressing the melon under vacuum-pressure for that concentrated flavour burst, and searing strips of a grass-fed beef top blade [flat iron] so they were nearly raw.” said Josh. A little bit of manchego over the top for savoriness provided the final accent.

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 a 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) w/dried cranberries, castelvetrano 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.”