Porters Neck CC is finding sustained menu success with dishes featuring Australian lamb.
This fall, members of Porters Neck Country Club (Wilmington, N.C.) will have the unique opportunity to order an Australian lamb shank with a sundried-tomato white-bean ragout, arugula, and crispy caper breadcrumbs.
“The dish starts with a 24-hour traditional brine of the shanks,” says James Patterson, Corporate Executive Chef with McConnell Golf and Executive Chef of Porters Neck CC. “We then pan-sear the shanks before they go into a roasting pan with a classic mirepoix for a six- to eight-hour braise.”
Once the braise is finished, Patterson strains the braising liquid, skims the fat and reduces the liquid down, before blending it with a homemade veal demi-glace.
“The shanks are brushed with the pan sauce before being presented on a bed of seasoned arugula and sundried tomato and white bean ragout,” says Patterson.
Each dish is finished with crispy caper panko and fried basil.
Patterson expects the Australian lamb shank dish to be one of the club’s best-selling dishes after the filet and the salmon. He predicts the club will go through a 30-lb. case of shanks every four days.
“Our membership loves anything we make featuring Australian lamb,” says Patterson, adding that some of the other most successful lamb dishes were Australian lamb loins, Australian lamb Bolognese, Australian lamb flatbreads, Australian lamb ravioli and, most recently, a Mediterranean Australian lamb rack with curried couscous.
“I started working with and featuring Australian lamb back in 2016 after I did a product immersion visit with True Aussie Lamb at the Culinary Institute of America in San Antonio, Texas,” says Patterson. “That’s when my love for—and appreciation of—Australian lamb began.”
During that visit, Patterson learned all about how Australian lamb is raised free-range and naturally fed on abundant pasturelands. The result is a mild-tasting and naturally lean and tender product. He especially appreciates that “Aussie Lamb” is free of artificial additives and hormone growth promotants. And that the Australian lamb industry is already climate-neutral and will soon have a positive impact on the environment where more carbon will be taken out of the atmosphere than put in.
“Prior to that immersion, I would have never thought of ordering loins of Australian lamb,” says Patterson. “But once I was able to work with the product, taste it and cook with it, I couldn’t stop thinking about dishes that would feature it.
“At first, members raised an eyebrow because the eye of the lamb rack is smaller than they are typically used to seeing,” he adds. “But the flavor is much more traditional. The marbling is also very consistent and the supply is steady. We haven’t had a lapse in sourcing yet.”