Amelia Park consistency helps chef work wonders

Rebecca TurnerCountryman

Chef Neal Jackson loves creating lamb meals.

Thirty per cent of the meals cooked in his Highgate fine dining restaurant include a lamb element.

Mr Jackson said, on average, his restaurant went through two to three cartons of lamb racks, a carton of lamb shoulders and a half carton of ribs a week.

"It varies with our menu; lamb has always been a popular choice among consumers and is even more popular now than it was 13 to 15 years ago when beef had a much bigger portion of the market," he said.

Jackson's restaurant, with V&V Walsh as a silent partner, has been in operation for the past 13 years.

The development of Walsh's Amelia Park Lamb brand almost coincided with the opening of Jackson's restaurant and has been the lamb of choice for Neal Jackson since its inception.

"We use Amelia Park Lamb because it is a very good product and has always been consistent," Mr Jackson said.

Mr Jackson said when it came to choosing a lamb supplier consistency was the number one thing he was looking for.

Taste and texture of the lamb had to be of the highest quality with all cuts of a consistent size.

He said the development of different cuts of lamb was influenced more so by consumer desire for leaner healthier meat than a bigger is better approach, which was particularly true at the top end of the fine dining market.

"Our customer feedback on the lamb we serve is always good, Mr Jackson said.

"Comments always focus on how tender and full of flavour the lamb is."

One of the lamb dishes currently on Jackson's menu uses three different cuts, each of which are prepared and cooked in a different way.

"The first cut used is the loin or rack which is cooked in a sous vide manner," Mr Jackson said.

"The rack is seasoned and vacuum packed then cooked in a water bath kept at a specific constant temperature of 60C."

The rack is then removed from the water bath and its vacuum packaging to be seared on a grill, allowing the meat to caramelise.

"This method of cooking allows the meat to be kept very tender and consistently medium rare," Mr Jackson said.

"The second cut we use is the shoulder, which is slow cooked in the oven.

"We then remove the meat from the bone and cook it in duck fat and onion."

After this, the meat is then formed into a sausage which is grilled.

"The end result is an extremely tender and flavoursome meat with a very different texture to the rack of lamb," Mr Jackson said.

The third cut used is a lamb rib on the bone.

"We poach the rib twice in a Chinese-flavoured stock, it is then pan-fried and served with a hot sour, sweet and spicy sauce," Mr Jackson said.

"The dish allows for three different flavoured and textured styles on the one plate with a predominately Chinese flavour."

Mr Jackson said the menu changed every 12 weeks with one or two lamb dishes always available.

With Amelia Park lamb being so consistent throughout the year lamb dishes are no longer a seasonal choice.

Mr Jackson said variation of meals throughout the seasons was driven more so by what vegetables were in season and his choice of flavours.

He said Jackson's always tried to source WA produce with eastern states or overseas produce only sourced if it was of a better quality.

In cases where Mr Jackson has sourced meat from the eastern states he said it was of equal if not better quality than what was produced in WA; however consistency was sometimes a problem.

"I think when it comes to beef the eastern states produces a much better grainfed product, having said that in the last few years WA has moved ahead," Mr Jackson said.

"Consumers are also looking towards a grassfed product because of its different flavour.

"Amelia Park has started producing a beef product which we have been using.

"We are currently using about 30kg of Amelia Park Beef ribs a week; they have been very successful and are a grass fed product which is finished on 90 days of grain so provides the best of both worlds."

Mr Jackson said WA consumers were quite parochial when it came to supporting locally grown produce, which was an excellent sign for the future of WA producers.

He said demand for lamb would not diminish and although the increasing cost of it was becoming an issue, high-end restaurants such as Jackson's were driven by quality and would always be prepared to pay for the best produce available.

"I think lamb will definitely remain a favourite dish amongt consumers, it is very Australian and its taste and texture make it very pleasant to eat," Mr Jackson said.

Mr Jackson said his only advice to producers was to keep providing a consistent product.

Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.

Sign up for our emails