In 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’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.”