7 Reasons to Fall in Love with Australian Rack of Lamb this Holiday Season

If lamb is on the menu, that’s what I’m ordering. And now that Australian rack of lamb is available in the Fairway Butcher Shop, I’m taking some home to cook.

Americans eat an average of over 100 pounds of chicken per year each, but when it comes to lamb, we eat only 0.8 pounds each year. Such a tiny number, and such a shame! I’d choose lamb over beef or chicken any day. Lamb is rich and musky, savory and tasty. Put lamb on your table and any occasion is instantly special.

“Australian Lamb is maintained and cared for by world-class lamb ranchers; you can taste the fresh grasses and wild herbs from the pastures where they’re raised,” says Chef Jeff McInnis, Executive Chef & Partner of Root & Bone.

Here are seven more reasons lamb makes a great holiday–and any day–dinner table centerpiece, plus a super-sophisticated lamb recipe we love.

One: If you’re expecting gaminess, think again. Pasture-raised lamb from Australia has a fabulously sweet, clean flavor.  It’s naturally mild, slightly sweet taste comes from the grasses and wild herbs of the stunning Aussie grasslands.

Two: A rack of lamb is stupid-simple to prepare. Simply rub it with plenty of garlic, rosemary, olive oil and salt before roasting in a 450 degree oven for about 25 minutes.

Three: Sustainability. Pasture-raised lambs live a free and open life without feedlots or excessive human interventions. Not only is this more humane for the animals, it’s less impactful for the environment. Australia’s ample grasslands aren’t suitable for many other uses and are ideal for grazing animals.

“I’ve been cooking with Australian lamb for many years, and even more lately since I had the chance to see first-hand how naturally Australian lamb is raised,” says Chef Bill Kim, Executive Chef/Owner of the restaurants BellyQ, Belly Shack and UrbanBelly. “It was just amazing to see how humanely the lamb are treated.”

Four: We know the ranchers. Since most Australian lamb ranches are family operations, it is easy to establish close relationships with our suppliers.

Five: Versatility. Pasture-raised lamb from Australia has a naturally mild flavor. This makes Aussie Lamb versatile, able to pair with and take on a vast array of flavor profiles, cuisines, spices and seasonings.

Six: Consistency. Australia has some of the most stringent export quality systems in the world, which makes each shipment to the US as excellent as the last. Knowing that the quality and flavor will be there every time gives a chef one less thing to worry about.

Seven: Deliciousness and wow factor. Serve lamb for a romantic dinner or a holiday party, and watch the swooning begin. 

Herb & Garlic Rack of Lamb with Cranberry Gastrique

Makes 4 servings

Rack of Lamb

1 rack of lamb (8 ribs; 1 ½ to 2 pounds), at room temperature

¼ cup Fairway olive oil

1 stem rosemary

1 small bunch thyme

2 cloves garlic, smashed

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a small dish, combine the oil, rosemary leaves, thyme leaves, and garlic. Season the lamb with salt and pepper and rub it all over with the marinade. Put the lamb in a resealable plastic bag or wrap it up and marinate, refrigerated, 4 hours to overnight.

To serve, remove the lamb from the marinade. Sear it over medium-high heat in an ovenproof pan until the exterior is browned. Transfer the meat and pan to a 400°F oven and roast until it is medium-rare, about 150°F on an instant-read thermometer. Let the meat rest out of the pan for 5 minutes, then cut it into individual chops.

Cranberry Gastrique

4 oz butter

2 shallots, diced fine

1 lb cranberries

5 oz port wine

5 oz Fairway balsamic vinegar

2 oz orange juice

4 oz sugar

1 star anise

salt to taste

Melt half the butter in saute pan over low heat and add shallots. Sweat for 3-4 minutes. Add cranberries to pan and sweat for 3 – 4 minutes. Add wine, vinegar, sugar, star anise and salt. Reduce for 10 20 minutes until desired consistency.

To Serve

Arrange 2 chops on each plate. Drizzle with cranberry gastrique and garnish with a mint sprig. Enjoy!

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