Leading into Kate Fay’s Ambassador Series dinner held recently, Kate held a session with five very lucky Beef and Lamb Excellence Award chefs in her Cibo kitchen. Kate chatted to these chefs and talked them through some of her tips on cooking with New Zealand beef and lamb. It was a chance for these chefs to have an opportunity to chat to an Ambassador Chef, ask questions and talk through menu applications using beef and lamb.
Of interest was the use of lamb bacon as a garnish, which Kate often uses on her dishes. She says it adds an intense flavour and interesting texture to her lamb dishes. Kate uses lamb rib to create the bacon and says the lamb flavour is distinguishable straight away but is not overpowered by strong fatty flavours which can come from using lamb rib. The cooking process removes a lot of the fat and the acidity of the brining process also counteracts the fattiness. The end result is a dry and crispy texture so Kate advises to use this as a garnish on a dish with good moisture content to contrast. At her Ambassador Series Dinner, Kate served it with her lamb sausage roll with a pea salad, pea purée and mint gel, which added the necessary moisture and fresh flavour to cut through the intense lamb flavour.
Kate prepares the lamb bacon in large batches to save time and to ensure she always has a supply on hand to heat through for service. Below, Kate shares the process of how she prepares the ribs and turns them into her delicious lamb bacon.
- Step one is to brine the ribs using some pink salt, a bit like corning. Leave the ribs to brine for 24 hours, then take them out, wash them and pat dry.
- Step two is to braise the ribs in water or a lamb stock using aromatics such as onions and carrots. Braise for about 2 hours at 160°C. Once the rib meat is tender, carefully remove the bones and lay the meat flat on a baking paper lined tray. Place another sheet of baking paper over the rib meat and press flat with a heavy weight and leave overnight. Be careful not to over braise the ribs as you don’t want the meat falling apart. However, Kate says the layer of sinew which remains on the meat is good for holding the meat together.
- The following day, hand cut into thick slices and press flat again with a heavy weight while baking at about 170°C to avoid curling. Kate says a lot of fat will yield off during this process and once the slices are browned take them out of the oven, allow to cool and store.
- Gently warm the slices through to serve.