Us backyard barbecue fanatics will use any excuse to cook, grill, sear, braise, smoke, char (or sometimes burn…) various cuts of meat and seafood. Add to that a mix of vegetables and fruit plus a herd of ravenous friend and family and you’ve got the perfect recipe for an Australia Day BBQ extravaganza.
Of course, there are the usual suspects that will make their presence known on this traditional day of flame and ember (apart from crazy old Uncle Ray who insists he’s the only person on the planet who can grill a run-of-the-mill chop.) No folks, I’m talking about the food. On the menu will be beef, lamb, pork, prawns, fish, mussels and their complementary buddies, the humble cob of corn and maybe some pineapple for dessert…….and don’t forget the wilting salads made the day before and brought along by well-meaning amigos.
Maybe, if you’re part of our magnificent migrant population, you’ll be scouring the Queen Vic Market for octopus to marinate and char grill over intensely burning embers with some smoking oregano. Or perhaps you’ve already made the chimichurri to enhance the beautifully butchered cut of beef for a Solomillo Asado (whole roasted sirloin). Either way, or whatever your version of barbecue, any day that is spent cooking and bragging to your loved ones of your culinary prowess is a great day indeed.
So, in sprouting the above information that comes as no surprise and definitely does not break any new ground, where to next you ask? Well, it all comes down to this. Wallaby.
Whilst many of us love our game meats and are happy to incorporate kangaroo, rabbit, hare, goat, emu and even crocodile into our diets, wallaby has been fully embraced by many of the countries top chefs and in my humble opinion, this particular meat can go head to head on the barbecue or grill with any of the other furry friends we revel in eating within our daily eating habits.
So, decision made. I now proclaim Wallaby as our national dish. Now comes the best part and that is the cooking and the eating of said marsupial. As a guide for the wallaby novice, let’s stick to the cuts that are freely available and are ideal for the great Aussie barbie.
For roasting, go for the wallaby leg. It cooks in much the same way as lamb and equally as delicious (my opinion, of course).
When it comes to the grill, the fillet is king. Very quick and easy to cook and with minimal preparation, this is one tasty dish and well worthy of a serious barbecue fanatic’s attention.
Grilled Wallaby Fillets.
Recipe by Andrew Richardson
Serves 1-2 people.
- 400g Flinders Island wallaby fillets
- Herbs and spices to match*
- 1 punnet Enoki mushrooms
- 1 avocado
- 1 pomegranate (seeds)
- EV olive oil
- Your choice of fresh salad greens
Beware you barbecue maniacs out there; this dish carries a health warning! (It’s very good for you).
I’ve chosen this recipe as an introduction to those who may not have had the pleasure of tasting one of Australia’s finest game meats. Like kangaroo, wallaby meat is very lean and is best eaten when the inside shows a nice pinkish hue after cooking. (similar to lamb) It goes magnificently with flavours found in the Australian bushland, Lemon Myrtle being one of many that will give this delicate meat a definite lift.
For those who find kangaroo meat a little too ‘gamey’ or strong in taste, wallaby is worth trying, as it’s sweeter in comparison.
Start by coating the fillets in a fine film of EV olive oil and roll lightly in the chosen herbs and spice mix*, cover the plate with gladwrap and refrigerate for an hour or so.
After that time, pre-heat your bbq grill to an appropriate meat sizzling temperature and once hot enough, place the fillets on the cooking surface. The fillets usually weigh around 80 – 100 grams each so I suggest grilling them for 3 minutes a side and resting them under foil for a further 3 minutes. The timings can be adjusted up and down according to how rare you prefer your meat cooked but this method is a good starter.
Next, assemble your salad and once you’re satisfied that the fillets have rested long enough, slice them thinly, add them to the greens or on the side and munch on a marsupial!
*The herb and spice mix used in this dish can be found at the Gewurzhaus shop, which is situated in the dairy hall of the Queen Victoria Market. Australian Bush Herbs, Native Lemon Pepper and the Australian Bush Pepper blends are the ones I highly recommend and have been specially formulated for our fantastic Aussie game meats. The wallaby fillets are available from Nifra Poultry (also in the dairy hall) and all other listed ingredients can be found with ease throughout the market fruit and veg sheds.
For those who just want to stick to traditional Aussie Day barbecue fare, I’ve also included a recipe and method for Lamb Cutlets w/pistachio pesto.
Flinders Island Saltgrass Lamb Cutlets w/pistachio pesto
(They’re even shaped like Australia!)
Recipe adaptation by Andrew Richardson
- Trimmed lamb cutlets – allow 2 per person
- Extra Virgin Olive oil
- Salt & Pepper
- 100g shelled pistachios – preferably unsalted if available 30g raw almonds
- 10 basil leaves approx.
- 40g Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Pandano – grated
A mortar & pestle will do the job but a food processor will achieve a better result when making the pesto. The amounts shown above will make approximately half a cup.
Place the pistachios, almonds, a pinch of salt and basil in the food processor while adding small amounts of olive oil as the motor is running until the mixture reaches the consistency of a thick paste. Finely grate the parmesan cheese and fold into the mixture. This is a crucial step as produces a superior result in comparison to adding the cheese directly to the food processor.
Season your lamb cutlets with good quality ground pepper, salt flakes and extra virgin olive oil while your bbq grill is reaching optimum temperature.
Once ready to grill, place cutlets on cooking surface and cook for 2 minutes a side (total 4 minutes). This a delicate cut of meat so following the timing above will ensure medium rare.
No need to rest these after grilling, just serve straight away with a generous dob of your freshly made pesto and watch all your happy, smiling lamb-loving friends congratulate you on a magnificent barbecue effort.
*Flinders Island Saltgrass Lamb is available from Sardes Butchers, situated in the Meat & Fish Hall just near the Elizabeth Street entrance.
And now for something extra special……
Slow cooked Flinders Island Saltgrass Lamb Racks
There’s no recipe or method included for this dish on the blog this time around as it’s only to showcase one of the many barbecue methods suited to lamb.
On this occasion, I’ve roasted the racks whole in a Pitbarrel Cooker for approximately 45 minutes. This type of cooking method produces an extremely juicy, tender joint of meat and owing to the supreme quality of this particular lamb product, the results are consistently phenomenal.
Once again I’ve opted to use two classic herb and spice mixes form Gewurzhaus to coat (and marinate) the lamb racks. One being Ras El Hanout and the other, Herbes de Provence. Both blends are very well suited to lamb and also are great mates with a freshly made basil, mint or pistachio pesto.
Footnote: Project partners of BBQ Workshop and generous sponsors of this month’s blog are Flinders Island Meat who have kindly supplied all products for recipe testing and tastings during the month of January. For any further information and/or details on Flinders Island Pasture Fed Wallaby and Saltgrass Lamb, please go to www.flindersislandmeat.com.au