In 2016, a an international survey proclaimed Australia as the #1 consumer of “sheep meat” amongst Western nations—and #3 overall in the world. Roast lamb is the country’s on-again-off-again national dish, trading the top spot in a hotly contested battle amongst meat pies, Pavlova, and ANZAC biscuits (to name just a few). Official titles aside, lamb is traditionally the dish to consume in honor of Australia Day—unless, of course, you’re a vegetarian, in which case a controversial advertising tradition would’ve had you seeing red … and quite intentionally, at that.
Beginning in 2004, in response to declining meat sales, Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) launched the first of an annual series of ads for Australia Day, which falls on January 26. Featuring a famous media personality and former footballer as “Lambassador,” the ads encouraged Aussies to eat lamb on their national holiday—and anything else, including vegetarianism, was simply un-Australian. While the ads were humorous in nature, the backlash was immediate. Not only due to the affront toward vegetarians, but because many Australians protest the day for its failure to recognize the indigenous population. The fact that sheep arrived along with British settlers on the First Fleet deepened the distaste even further.
It took more than a decade, but as Australia has become more sensitive to its multiculturalism, the MLA changed its tune. Since 2017, the ads have instead been used to celebrate summer—and meat-loving Aussies continue to enjoy their lamb, without a side of controversy.
Lamb Chops with Shiraz Reduction
It may be winter in Australia, but we’re ready to fire up the barbie with a recipe that celebrates both lamb and another favorite Aussie export: red wine.
- 8 Australian lamb chops
- ¾ cup olive oil
- 1 Tbsp lime zest
- 2 Tbsp lime juice
- ¼ cup finely chopped mint
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 cup thinly sliced onions
- 1 Tbsp finely chopped garlic
- 3 cups Shiraz wine
- Salt and pepper, to taste
1. In a shallow dish, combine olive oil, lime zest and juice, mint, salt, and pepper. Coat both sides of the lamb chops in the marinade. Leave for 2 hours at room temperature, or refrigerate overnight.
2. Melt butter in skillet over medium heat and add garlic and onions to sauté for 8 to 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Stir in wine and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour, or until mixture thickens and reduced to 1 cup. The sauce should have the consistency of syrup.
3. Grill lamb chops for 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium-rare, or until desired temperature. Spoon Shiraz reduction over the chops and serve.
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