Dec 08

Your Face Here - Karen Chrestay

Several home chefs jumped at the opportunity to win two Aussie lamb racks, two lamb legs and a carving kit. This quarter's winner is Karen Chrestay. 

Karen Chrestay

AL: Congratulations Karen! We’re thrilled you submitted your lamb dishes to the Your Face Here contest. Tell us what inspired your dishes? 

KC: The chance to win all this lovely lamb was an inspiration in itself! We’re definitely lamb lovers in this house and so are many of our friends so it’s on the menu quite often — especially in the summer when we can grill and rotisserie. All my submissions were first-time experiments (my favorite way to cook) that were either inspired by a recipe I saw somewhere then tweaked to my own liking or just looking in the pantry, fridge and spice rack and putting things together. The Moroccan Spiced Rotisserie Leg of Lamb and the Curried Lamb Pie are two resulting examples. The mustard-herb-breadcrumb coated rack of lamb is a classic preparation that’s just too good to change.

AL: What advice would you give to someone cooking Australian Lamb for the first time? 

KC: No mint jelly! (Although I do make a broth-based fresh mint sauce that’s quite good with lamb). My biggest tip would be to invest in a good instant-read meat thermometer and use it often during cooking. There’s nothing worse than overcooking a fabulous leg or rack of lamb. And be sure to let it rest before carving. Don’t be afraid to experiment with cooking techniques or seasonings. Even if it doesn’t turn out exactly how you wanted, there’s almost always a way to salvage or re-invent the meal.

AL: What’s one of your favorite lamb recipes that would be good for a beginner to try? 

KC: A lamb stew made from the shoulder or shanks might be a good choice. Once all the ingredients are assembled, you really just sit back and let the stove do all the work and there’s not much chance of overcooking. Lamb burgers would be an easy intro to lamb cooking. Move on to grilled chops, then try roasting a half-leg. Once you’re familiar with lamb flavor and texture, you’ll feel more comfortable working with larger, more expensive cuts like whole legs or full racks.

AL: You mentioned hosting a lamb party for all your friends with the prize. Which fixings are you thinking will complement your lamb? 

KC: We have a wine dinner club called the Corkheads. I’m sure it will be the recipient of some of this wonderful lamb. We’ll ask the members to bring the sides and I’ll give them some ideas based on the theme of the meal. In the summer, it might be lots of cold salads and marinated and grilled vegetables. In colder months (like now), I like crispy roasted potatoes or a creamy, cheesy gratin and a bright green vegetable. And it goes without saying that at least one of those racks is reserved for my lamb-nut friend, Laura!

AL: Awesome. Thanks so much for chatting with us, and Happy Holidays!

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