In this month’s edition of the Meat Mail, we talk to Executive Chef Miles Vaden of DC Coast. Miles recently took home first prize in a menu contest during DC restaurant week for his Braised Lamb Schwarma with Black Tahini, Pomegranate Tzatziki, Mint Chermoula, and Pickled Beets on Grilled Lavash. Chef Miles will now go to the Aspen Food & Wine Festival as Aussie Lamb’s honoured chef!
We asked the Chef about the inspiration for the dish, and he told us he was looking to create something with lamb for the lunch menu and knew he wanted to use the shank. “Especially when the weather’s cold, a slow-cooked, braised meat is hard to beat,” said Miles. As he is often found on his days off in one of the many excellent authentic Eastern Mediterranean restaurants the DC-area is blessed with, schwarma was a natural choice. Chef Miles’ dish takes all of the traditional elements of a classic schwarma and gives them his own creative and often colourful touch. Thus tahini became a housemade black sesame tahini, tzatziki got a lift of color and flavour pop from pomegranate seeds, fresh herb notes come from a mint chermoula, and pickled beets add acidity and vibrant color. “I love colors on the plate, and as a chef I try to match the color with a flavorful purpose,” explains Chef Miles. “The pomegranate seeds and pickled beets both do that, and they keep the dish from getting one-dimensional. Every bite will be a little different than the last.” All of those elements work to complement the main attraction, which is of course the braised Aussie lamb shanks, which bring plenty of flavour of their own to the plate. For full cross-utilization, DC Coast is also featuring a dinner version of the shank with cauliflower couscous and crispy chick peas.
When we asked Chef what he liked best about working with Australian Lamb, he said “The flavor first of all is so mild, sweet and clean; it’s not at all the gamey, heavy flavor that a lot of Americans might remember from their childhood. When I learned that Aussie lamb is so well raised and taken care of – grass-fed, hormone-free and humanely treated – it was an even better match for what I want to serve my guests.”
And for a final word from Chef Miles, echoing what we’ve heard a lot from chefs and trend researchers alike recently - “Consumers are slowly changing their minds about lamb – it’s not just racks at fine-dining places anymore. People are really warming up to it, especially when it’s done in a Mediterranean flavor profile.”