Happy Australia Day!
Celebrated annually on January 26, Australia Day marks the anniversary of the 1788 arrival of the First Fleet of British Ships at Sydney Cove, New South Wales, and raising of the Flag of Great Britain at that site by Governor Arthur Phillip. I was challenged by Treasury Wine Estates to create a recipe to celebrate the day, and this is what I came up with: Shiraz Lamb Skewers with Mint Chimichurri.
Australia is well known for it’s beef and lamb industry, so I immediately gravitated towards a recipe using one of those meats. And of course the recipe needed to incorporate wine, so why wouldn’t I pick a lush Aussie Shiraz?
I decided to use lamb because I haven’t cooked with it much and I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone. My butcher talked me into using a leg steak, which worked perfectly. I cut it into cubes and let it marinate overnight in Lindeman’s Shiraz, which not only injected the meat with dark berry flavors but also made for a sublimely tender bite.
But I wasn’t done there.
Skewers marinated in wine are fairly easy and not extremely imaginative. I wanted to create something to accompany the skewers that would be a bit unexpected. As I said previously, I haven’t cooked much with lamb so my repertoire is a little lean, but when I think of lamb I always think of my grandma’s leg of lamb with mint jelly.
When I was a kid my grandparents had a working ranch and raised all of their own meat. On special occasions, my grandmother would roast a leg of lamb and we’d scarf it down with a bit of sweet mint jelly.
As a riff on my grandma’s dish, I decided to create a chimichurri with mint. The result is sheer perfection! The mint chimichurri adds a peppery flavor to the rich, tender lamb. I used a mixture of Italian parsley and mint in this chimichurri, but I’m anxious to try it again using arugula and mint for an even stronger peppery bite to further play off the grilled flavor of the skewers.
The secret to grilling lamb is to cook it hot and fast. Lamb becomes hard and tough if it’s cooked beyond medium. I like to crank the heat up to medium-high and cook it for a short amount of time – just 1-2 minutes – on each side. It should be very lightly pink in the center once cooked.
How are you celebrating Australia Day today?
- Serves: 4
- Calories: 223.3
- Fat: 10.3
- Saturated fat: 2.8
- Polyunsaturated fat: 0.6
- Carbohydrates: 1.7
- Sugar: 0.5
- Sodium: 186.8
- Fiber: 0
- Protein: 23.1
- Cholesterol: 75.1
- 1 lb. fresh lamb leg steak, bone removed and meat cut into 1½ - 2” cubes
- 1 cup Shiraz wine
- 1 cup fresh mint leaves
- 1 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves
- 1 clove garlic
- Pinch coarse sea salt
- 1½ tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ½ tbsp lemon juice
- Place the pieces of lamb in a bowl and cover with the wine. Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.
- Arrange the lamb pieces on skewers. Grill over medium heat for 1-2 minutes on each of the 4 sides of the cubes. Lamb should be just lightly pink in the center – be careful not to overcook! Remove from heat and let sit.
- Place the mint, parsley, garlic and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to chop the herbs.
- Whisk together the oil and lemon juice. With the food processor on low, very slowly add the oil mixture in a steady stream until the mixture has reached the consistency of a coarse pesto.
- Serve each skewer with a helping of the chimichurri.