Cooking a meal for your partner is perhaps one of the most simple, yet romantic date night ideas. The thought of spending the time and effort to whip up a meal, even if the food isn’t five-star, is sure to sweep anyone off their feet. Easy dinner recipes include pasta, steak and lava cake. However, if you really want to impress your date, it’s time to serve something unorthodox — lamb.

Not that it’s an exotic ingredient. But compared to beef, pork and chicken, lamb and mutton are the least commonly found proteins in restaurants. It’s also an uncommon ingredient found in household kitchens, likely from the lack of knowledge on how to prepare it. While unfamiliar, cooking lamb is actually as easy as cooking any other type of meat.

In collaboration with Meat & Livestock Australia, local chefs have stepped forward to share three easy lamb recipes for the perfect dinner date.

1. Lamb Tartare by Alysia Chan, chef of REBEL REBEL

The perfect appetiser to start the meal, Alysia Chan’s lamb tartare places emphasis on the natural flavours of Australian lamb. The keyword here is ‘Australian’. Not all lambs are born equal, especially not when you’re competing with Australian lamb, which Chan mentioned had a more pleasant flavour compared to its New Zealand counterpart, which was too gamey for her liking.

“I was a bit scared to put this [lamb tartare] on my menu just because you know… number one it’s raw meat… number two it’s raw lamb. I think a lot of people would be quite scared to eat [it]”, she said while mincing the lamb by hand, which gives the tartare a better texture compared to using pre-minced lamb, or mincing it with a food processor.

The dish received lots of good feedback so far, and turned out to be one of REBEL REBEL’s signature dish. The lamb had its signature gamey flavour, but it was more repressed than the ones we typically eat in restaurants. On top of its pleasant mellowness, it was accompanied by a light grassy fragrance and sweet aftertaste.

While preparing this dish, it is also important to note the difference between lamb and mutton. Sheep is classified under lamb and mutton. Lambs are sheep that are either under 12 months old, or have zero permanent incisor teeth. Meanwhile, mutton has at least one permanent incisor. Since lamb is younger than mutton, it does not have the time to develop a prominent gamey flavour.

Ingredients:

  • 320g lamb leg, finely chopped
  • 40g medjool dates, chopped pistachio
  • 30g banana shallots, brunoise
  • 20g toasted buckwheat
  • 3 large basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 4 quail eggs
  • 1 sourdough baguette

Directions:

  1. To make the dressing, blend all dressing ingredients together with a blender
  2. Thinly slice baguette diagonally, lay slices on an oven proof tray, drizzle with olive oil, season lightly with salt and pepper, bake at 160 degrees Celsius for 10-15 minutes till golden brown
  3. In a mixing bowl, mix lamb, dates, shallots, basil, dressing, salt and pepper till thoroughly mixed
  4. Plate lamb tartare in a ring mold, making a shallow well in the middle
  5. Separate the quail egg yolk and place in the well of the tartare
  6. Garnish the sides around the yolk with toasted buckwheat
  7. Remove ring mold and serve lamb tartare with baguette crisps

Note:

  1. Keep raw lamb chilled below 5 degrees at all times
  2. Use loin cuts for easy chopping and tenderness, use trimmed leg cuts for more bite and flavour

2. Roasted Australian Lamb Rack by Felix Chong, chef of Monti

Nothing says fine dining than a fine rack of lambs. And no one knows more about fine dining than Felix Chong, the Executive Chef of Monti, an Italian rooftop restaurant and bar.

His variation of the classic lamb rack is elevated with an external coating of minced lamb leg with herbs and cured meat before deep drying. It’s savoury and herbaceous, with a contrasting texture.

The rack is accompanied by a sweet and tangy black garlic aioli. Chong ferments his own black garlic with a dehydrator, but a rice cooker works too. Alternatively, it’s available in NTUC FairPrice.

Ingredients:

  • 80g lamb leg
  • 2 ribs of lamb rack
  • 20g pistachio 
  • 2g rosemary
  • 10g crepinette
  • 50g parma ham

Black garlic aioli

  • 30g black garlic
  • 30g kewpie mayonnaise

Sides

  • 80g broccolini
  • 60g butternut puree

Sauce

  • 80g veal jus
  • 3g whole grain mustard
  • 3g fresh mint
  • 10g unsalted butter

Directions:

  1. Debone the lamb leg and mince it. Season with salt, pepper, chopped pistachio and rosemary
  2. Mould it back onto the lamb rack and wrap with parma ham and crepinette
  3. Vacuum pack and sous vide at 60.5 degree celsius for 45 minutes
  4. Deep fry until golden brown
  5. Serve with black garlic aioli, sides and sauce

3. Lamb Kebab by Eddie Goh, chef of Meat Smith

Photo: Meat Smith

Eddie Goh, the head chef of Meat Smith, describes his lamb kebab as the perfect lazy meal for a large crowd. “The in-laws are coming over this weekend but you’re too busy with work? No problem,” he smiled as he chucked the lamb shoulder into the oven.

Time does most of the work for this recipe. All you have to do is prepare the brining liquid for the lamb rack, and set the oven temperature. While making your pitas from scratch will give it a softer texture, it is completely okay to purchase pre-made pitas.

Ingredients:

Lamb:

  • 500g lamb shoulder
  • 1200ml buttermilk
  • 600ml water
  • 120g salt
  • 60g garlic puree

Pitas:

  • 495g bread flour
  • 67.5g masa harina
  • 1.5g dry yeast
  • 135g levain
  • 400g cold water
  • 67.5g extra virgin olive oil

Kebab salad:

  • 40g shredded butterhead lettuce
  • 10g peeled black olives
  • 20g cherry tomatoes
  • 5g chopped mint
  • 5g chopped parsley
  • 5g shallot rings
  • 20g Mozzarella cheese
  • 20g aioli

Directions:

  1. Brine the lamb shoulder for at least 24 hours, remove from the brine and place it in the smoker or oven at 100°C for at least 3-4 hours, then spray with apple cider on the shoulder every 30 minutes until fork tender (place a try under the shoulder to collect jus)
  2. To make the pitas, mix all the ingredients with a kitchen aid on low speed for 3-5 minutes except olive oil util it forms a dough. Then, increase to medium speed and slowly drizzles in olive oil
  3. Mix on medium speed until gluten has formed (passing the window panel test)
  4. Proof at room temperature in a well-oiled container
  5. portion to desired size and flatten to cook on a skillet
  6. Add ingredients as desired and roll the pita to form kebab

*This article is written in collaboration with Meat & Livestock Australia

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