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The Home Plate - Life and Lamb

Tell those tomatoes to get stuffed!

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TomatoesWhen Chef Nancy Manlove told us about her award-winning Savory Lamb Stuffed Tomato Cups, once we stopped drooling, we had to get the recipe. And now we can share it with you! It’s perfect for bringing to a potluck or when it's time to #ownyourparty and impress the rellos at your own Easter festivity. Much like the chef herself, there’s nothing shy about this dish! It’s loaded with indulgent, savory goodness, from the boursin cheese to the artichoke hearts and mushrooms. But hey, under all that cheese is lean, pasture-raised Aussie lamb, and it’s in a tomato, so it must be good for us, right? Nice job with the photo, Chef!

Check out the recipe here. 




Meet Chef Nancy Manlove

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 Nancy Manlove Chef Nancy Manlove has had a non-traditional path to the professional kitchen. A grandmother with 8 grandkids, she went to culinary school at age 60 after retiring from working on the Space Shuttle program. Today’s she’s working as Chef de Cuisine at eculent, a quaint, modern “farm to table restaurant with a touch of molecular gastronomy” in Kemah located south east of Houston. She’s also got a very strong Instagram game, and is already a champion at competitive cooking, from Cutthroat Kitchen to the World Food Championships. Good onya Chef! We caught up with Nancy to get her take on Aussie lamb and some tips for Easter entertaining…

What do you like about Aussie lamb?
“In Texas we have a saying about great meat, that you should “know your rancher.” I feel that way about Aussie lamb; I know how it was raised, clean and pasture-raised, with safety and consistency known the world over. I love the versatility – from a whole roasted leg to pistachio-crusted chops or my famous stuffed tomatoes (Ed. Note: more on those later), you can’t go wrong. Even folks who think they don’t like lamb will love Aussie lamb!”

What makes Easter a holiday for lamb?
“Whether it’s seder for Jewish families, or Easter for Christians, there’s always a family feast – it’s a cultural celebration as much as a religious one. My house is a mix of Jewish, Catholic, Methodist and Baptist, and we always do lamb for Easter! It’s one of those traditions that’s earned its place, and especially with Aussie lamb being so versatile, we’re a long way from the mutton-and-mint-jelly from the 1950s.”

What are some of your go-to lamb dishes for this holiday?
“I love to do a stuffed whole leg of lamb. It’s big and showy, but isn’t really that much work. But my favorite might be my “best lamb ever” stuffed tomatoes. It was my first prize-winning culinary competition entry, and it really shows of the savory flavor of lamb, with mushrooms, boursin cheese, and artichoke hearts all in the filling. I did a rich balsamic reduction to put it over the top. It’s fabulous!”

That sounds #Aussome. Set the scene for us – what else is on the table?
“This is a day to pull those special dishes out of the cupboard, especially the platters. Family style is the way to go! I’d make potatoes au gratin, a nice green salad, maybe some asparagus with hollandaise…(she laughs) lent is over, don’t be afraid of the fat! Some southern peach tea, good wines, and plenty of coffee with dessert.”

You had us at wine! Well, and the lamb bit, too.

Meet the farmer: Jim Gaylard

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Jim Gaylard farmThis week we share a recent chat with Jim Gaylard, a family lamb rancher at Trawalla Pastoral, his mixed operation of lamb, cattle and crop farming, about 100 miles west of Melbourne.

4,000 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 producing 14-16,000 lambs per year.”

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’ve implemented was a series of tree plantations. The shelter they provide helps with erosion, pasture drying, and animal welfare for exposure and shade in the hot summer months.”

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 providing 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

Featured recipe: Aussie lamb hash with poached eggs

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 lamb hash


Who says a stuffy dinner is the way to go for a romantic meal? Our vote’s with Chef Alex Espinoza of Napa Valley’s Peju Winery and his Aussie Lamb Hash with Poached Eggs for a romantic/dreamy brekkie. He had us at Lamb, but it’s also got exotic black garlic and gorgeous poached eggs for even more appeal. Especially with leftover slow-cooked lamb, be it shanks, shoulder or leg, this dish is as easy to make as it is sure to impress. Want to make it even easier? You can even roast the potatoes ahead, and just finish it all in a flash when the time is right. What’ll you do with all that time you saved? No worries mate, you and your better half’ll think of something.

Meet the chef: Alex Espinoza

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Peju Province Winery Chef Alex Espinoza’s “Chef’s Life” isn’t like many other chefs. As the chef for a top Napa Valley winery, he’s not tied to a restaurant and the daily routines that creates. It’s more like every day is a different private event, from wine pairing classes to full winery buyouts and retreats for Bay Area corporations like Facebook and Google. If you’re eating at Peju, Alex is cooking for you! As you might expect from a chef at a gorgeous winery in Napa Valley, Valentine’s Day is always a busy time of year for him, with special events and private dinners in high demand. We thought we’d get some tips for romance straight from the expert – it was a good excuse to catch up with one of our favorite blokes!

Chef Alex EspinozaWhat’s the best part about being a winery chef?
“I’ve been doing this for about 4 years now, and it’s a totally different lifestyle than your traditional chef’s life. It’s different every day, and there’s so much freedom and flexibility, it’s amazing. It’s also helped me learn a lot about wine!”

You just survived Valentine’s Day; what does that look like for a chef?
“It looks like work! (laughs) Chefs are always working on this and many other holidays. But it’s great to be trusted with creating that special romantic moment for people, where they can feel like kings and queens for the day.”

Do lamb and romantic meals go together?
“Hell yeah! Especially with Aussie lamb, the mild, sweet flavor can win over even folks who don't think they like lamb. Lamb is not an everyday meat – at least here in the US – so it has that unique, special occasion feel to it. I love to do a mushroom risotto with asparagus, mushrooms, fresh peas and parmesan, and top it with a beautiful Aussie Lamb tenderloin with red wine reduction and rosemary. Super sexy, and great with wine – petit verdot or a syrah would be perfect.”

What’s a dish you might make at home for a special someone?
“I think brunch is totally overlooked as a special-occasion meal; everybody does dinner, but brunch can be a great surprise to make someone feel special. What about an Aussie lamb hash with fingerling potatoes and fresh herbs, and poached eggs on top! Add a little sparkling wine like our sparkling rosé, or maybe a bellini or mimosa, and you’re in business. You can use leftover braised or roasted lamb, so it’s easier than it looks." 

Sounds delish! Let’s have a bit of that sparkling and think on that a bit…

February menu roundup

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Here are a few Aussie lamb dishes we spotted on our newsfeed that were too tempting to keep to ourselves. Get your Aussie fix if you’re near one of these spots!

  

Catch 35

Catch 35 – Chicago, IL   (pictured)

Australian Lamb Chops with Maitre d'Hotel butter, fingerling potatoes, creamed spinach and roasted garlic

Edge – Miami, FL

Aussie Lamb Shoulder, slow cooked with dried lime and spices, eggplant purée, ancient grains and kale

Seasons 52 – Nationwide
Mediterranean Braised Lamb Shank with autumn vegetables and Yukon mash

Texas de Brazil – Nationwide

This Brazilian-inspired restaurant specializes in slow-roasted and perfectly seasoned cuts of lamb including  leg of lamb  and  lamb chops . This technique comes to the United States straight from Southern Brazil, where Gauchos (cowboys) prepare meals over a campfire. At Texas de Brazil, the skilled gauchos journey through the restaurant with the grilled meats on sword-like skewers taken directly off the grill, stopping at each table to carve slices for diners.

BONUS: Did we mention that we have a great sweepstakes running for lamb month at Texas de Brazil? Get the info on Texas de Brazil’s Facebook.

Salt7 – Delray Beach, FL

Aussie Lamb with Salt7 spices and lemon oregano vinaigrette 

Second Empire Restaurant – Raleigh, NC 

Grilled Australian Lamb Rack with sweet potato & collard green gratin, roasted asparagus, black-eyed pea & corn salad, kolrabi puree, ginger mushroom jus 

Ragin Cajun Cooking – Chef Will Staten – Las Vegas, NV

Seared Grassfed Steak with blackening rub served over a healthy tomato, cucumber and red onion salad tossed in Italian seasonings, with minced garlic, peppered feta, EVOO & white balsamic vinegar

Chef’s Roll Feature: Chef Kwame Onwuachi – Washington D.C.

Aussie Lamb Bisteeya 

Featured recipes from Chef Renate deGeorge

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This month we’re featuring recipes from one of our favorite chefs, Renate deGeorge from airport restaurant group SSP America (more on her here). 

Double smoked lamb stew
Double-smoked Aussie lamb stew with craft porter gravy
"I love using my grill and smoker, even in the winter. Here in Maryland it’s almost never too cold to cook outside! And lamb is great for grilling and smoking. Those smoky flavors really complement the natural flavor of Aussie lamb. I like using the lamb shoulder for dishes like this; it’s ideal for slow, moist-heat cooking. One thing about this recipe — it’s much easier than it looks! I always encourage home cooks to take shortcuts and make substitutions as you like, don’t feel locked into a recipe! If you don’t want to bother with the primary smoking step, it still tastes great. The phyllo knots are a super simple yet impressive element, but a nice baguette or crusty bread works great too. Just don’t shortcut the quality of ingredients!"

anchobrown sugar strip steak Ancho-brown sugar Aussie grassfed strip steak salad 
"This is another recipe I built around my trusty Weber grill. It works in summer or winter, the ingredients are readily available all year long. I find the Aussie grassfed beef has a depth of flavor that works great for bringing together a balance of big flavors, from sweet to sour to spicy. You get sweet from the brown sugar and the grapes, sour from the lime juice, and spicy from the chipotles in the compound butter.

This recipe can come together in a hurry when you need it, and uses one of my favorite secret weapons — canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce. You can find them everywhere, and they’re a real time-saver compared to fresh or dried chiles. Grilling or charring the grapes adds a touch of bitterness and really pops the flavor of the tangy dressing; in the summer you can freeze them instead for an unexpected and cooling contrast."