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The Home Plate - Life and Lamb

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."

A chef's life: Renate deGeorge

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Renate headshot

Chef Renate deGeorge is Director of Culinary and Menu Innovation for SSP America, which specializes in running and developing foodservice concepts for airports. She’s responsible for 15 airports from Montreal to Tampa, so she knows what it’s like to be on the road all the time! She’s also a great mate and a fan of Aussie beef and lamb, so we thought we’d have a chat and take a look into her Chef’s Life.

We often wonder how much chefs cook at home, when food is your business all day. In your case, you’re always in the air or in an airport — what is cooking at home like?

It’s true that I’m always in an airport, but actually rarely cooking. I create recipes in our R&D kitchen for our concepts, but at this point in my career a lot of what I do is managing, training and overseeing my airports. So when I’m home, I love to cook! And I learned a while ago to not take things so seriously in the kitchen; your friends and family want to be with you, they don’t need you to impress them with your chef skills.

What do you like about cooking with Aussie Beef and Lamb?

The quality and the flavor of Aussie meats are outstanding. The flavor of the lamb is mild, but still tastes like lamb and has a strong enough flavor that it can handle the big, bold flavors I love.

Speaking of, you gave us a number of your favorite recipes for home cooks; tell us about the “Sriracha Grassfed Beef Sandwich.”

I love that one! Beef round can be a bland cut, but the Aussie grassfed has a great beefy flavor. It’s a roasting cut, but I did it in a crockpot to keep it simple and hands-off. As a sandwich or sliders, it’s like a spicy cheesesteak. Who wouldn’t want that? You can play with the toppings to make it your own, from oven-roasted peppers to tomatoes, or even pickled jalapenos.

OK, we’re hungry now! For more of Chef deGeorge’s recipes, follow this link. And look for her at the airport the next time you fly!

Party on and keep it healthy

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Mediterranean Chopped Salad

We’ve loved seeing all the party faces in our recent #ownyourparty competition. Now that the New Year has begun, it’s a good time to keep your party selves in tip-top shape with a few hot tips from internationally recognized dieticians to help you eat better and feel better.

1) Food is always the best way to get your nutrients. Supplements and vitamins can help, but your body absorbs nutrients in foods much more effectively. Makes sense, right? There’s a reason why restaurants don’t put vitamins on the menu. They’re just not tasty.

2) Lean meats like many cuts of grassfed beef and lamb are a great way to get not just the protein, but also the “good kind” of iron (heme iron), zinc, and vitamin B-12. You can’t get B-12 from your veggies, it’s only in animal proteins.

3) Lamb is an excellent source of zinc and selenium, which both help support your immune system. With the ankle biters bringing home colds from daycare and school, and everyone at work coughing and sneezing, you need all the help you can get! How does the saying go…a lamb chop a day keeps the doctor away? Something like that.

Here's a few of our favorite recipes on the lighter side: 

Featured recipes from Chef Michael Slavin

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This month we’re featuring recipes from one of our favorite chefs, Michael Slavin from Houlihan’s Restaurants. (more on him here)

Soy marinated grassfed tri tip 2 Soy marinated tri tip:  
"I love tri-tip because it’s a cut you can cook whole — just marinate and grill it, then slice it up. And it cooks fast. A whole tri-tip can be cooked in less than 15 minutes, and you can feed a crowd. The important thing is to let it get a nice crust, and let it rest before you slice it.

With Aussie grassfed beef, the meat has so much flavor, I like to keep it simple. Here, soy sauce is my secret weapon — use it sparingly and it won’t taste “Asian,” just savory, delicious and full of umami. Soy sauce also tenderizes the meat and stimulates the palate. The olive oil adds some subtle herbaceous notes and a little fat. Any fat in a marinade helps the meat char and caramelize, and gets you those beautiful grill marks."

Beer and mustard-marinated lamb rack:
beer and mustard marinated lamb rack
"When you start with really high quality lamb, raised the right way like they do in Australia, you don’t have to doctor it up. The flavor work is done for you, you just need to accent it. I love cooking with beer — it’s the workingman’s wine when it comes to food. The carbonation makes it light and bright, adding some bitter and herbaceous notes, and does what wine or vinegar does in a sauce or marinade. With so many different kinds of beer out there from dark to light, malty to bitter, you can tell a great story, and there’s so much room to play.

In this dish I like to use a Belgian beer like Blue Moon. You want something light, and generally I think lager styles work better when you are cooking with them. These days beer is getting as much love as spirits and wine in the kitchen… it’s not just for drinking after your shift!"