When asked, “What’s your favorite meal?” people usually answer with that one dish that reminds them of home and family: the food on the table on a Sunday night or a special occasion, when the whole family gathered to spend quality time together. For many Australians, that meal is a leg of lamb roast, considered by many the country’s national dish.
Traditionally, the leg of lamb is seasoned with butter, rosemary and garlic and roasted for two or more hours in either a kettle barbecue or conventional oven at around 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Served with roasted carrots and potatoes, a green vegetable and gravy, this is the dish that warms the soul.
Lamb is ubiquitous on the Australian culinary scene. The country is one of the world’s leading producers of lamb, as well as the second-largest exporter of the meat, with the industry as a whole worth around $3.9 billion. Australians are among the world’s leading consumers of lamb. In fact, in 2012 and 2013, about 78 percent of Australia’s fresh meat-purchasing population regularly bought lamb.
The meat represents Australia’s colonial beginnings and early rural economy — a meal that’s been with many families from the start. Australian ranchers are praised around the world for their techniques, the lamb delicious, tender and juicy. The natural environment lends itself well to raising all-natural, grass-fed lamb free of hormones and additives.
Lamb, typically served as shoulder, rack, shank/breast, loin or leg, is also nutritious. The meat proves an excellent source of protein, iron, zinc and vitamin B, promoting growth and boosting the immune system.
Australians enjoy versatile lamb in a variety of presentations, ranging from simpler preparations served at take-away restaurants and as appetizers to more gourmet dishes. The always popular rack of lamb chops may be served any number of ways; rosemary, garlic and mint provide traditional flavors for Australian lamb. Lamb backstrap, a top-grade cut, is often marinated in Middle Eastern spices and barbecued, a cooking technique also common in the country. More of a to-go or appetizer type of food is the lamb sausage roll, with Moroccan spices and sesame seeds — think pigs in a blanket with an upscale Australian twist. Kids enjoy crumbed lamb cutlets, pan-fried or baked.
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