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Aussie Meat Trends

More on scrumpets and lamb ribs!

(Trends and Recipes) Permanent link
In last month’s Meat Mail, we mentioned trends guru Gerry Ludwig from Gordon Food Service’s nod to lamb at the Flavor Experience conference in Newport Beach. Gerry threw a spotlight on lamb’s emergence on menus outside of its traditional comfort zone of fine-dining, citing a statistic from our friends at the American Lamb Board and research firm Datassential’s MenuTrends™, he noted that lamb is up in penetration on chain and independent restaurants by over 13 percent over the last 4 years.

In particular, Gerry noted the rise in casual applications for bar foods and pub fare. One of the hottest is lamb ribs, popping up at hot spots like Dusek’s in Chicago and Laurel Hardware in Los Angeles (with Gochugang), and Serpico in Philadelphia (with Japanese eggplant, yogurt and mint); oh, and Ada St in Chicago (with agave glaze and habanero cream).

The other hot item is adorably called “scrumpet” and is a classic UK bar food made of braised lamb shoulder or breast, formed into edible fingers, dusted with panko and fried. Gastropub pioneer Dirk Flanigan created a version for the iconic Green Door Tavern in Chicago with a house sauce that’s a take on horseradish aioli, April Bloomfield serves hers with malt vinegar and fresh mint at the Breslin in NYC, and Cavalier in San Francisco serves it with a dipping sauce of pickled mint and chilies. The general theme seems to be that it’s scrumptious and delicious, any way you serve it!

Featured Chefs: Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth

(Featured Chef) Permanent link
Jeff McInnis and Janine BoothExecutive Chef Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth, Chef de Cuisine, Root & Bone, NYC 

Having made their names in fried chicken at Yardbird in Miami and on Top Chef, it’s no surprise that the duo of Executive Chef Jeff McInnis and Chef de Cuisine Janine Booth have already been rated the best fried chicken in New York City. But there’s a lot more going on at Root & Bone than just fried free-range birds – as the name suggests, Root & Bone has a strong theme of on-the-bone meats and root vegetables, and the kind of “rural American” cuisine that corresponds to it.

One of those on-the-bone meats is an Australian rack of lamb, which the chefs cook sous vide from a raw state to 130° with butter and aromatic herbs, then season and sear quickly on the grill for service. “We keep the flavoring simple, letting that pure, natural, pastured lamb flavor shine through.” says Janine. “We’ve had a number of guests tell us that they usually don’t like lamb, but they love ours. I think it has a lot to do with the mild, sweet flavor of Aussie lamb, and the even, consistent marbling.”

On the menu right now at Root & Bone is an Aussie grass-fed beef short rib meatloaf, served with parsnip root mash, tomato jam, horseradish and a “rainbow” of root veggies. The shortribs are braised in red wine and veal stock until spoon-tender, then shredded and pressed into a hotel pan. The reserved jus is poured over it, and when chilled, all that rich collagen binds it together. It’s then cut into squares and seared for service. At brunch service – soon to be offered every day of the week – you can get the shortrib meatloaf with a poached egg on top. Because, why not!

According to Janine“New York is a brunch city, and we think people love the opportunity to indulge a bit in the kinds of soul-satisfying dishes that work so well at brunch, and fit our concept at Root & Bone.”

We at Aussie Lamb can’t wait to try it!

Featured Chef: Conor Hanlon

(Featured Chef) Permanent link
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.”