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Fall is for cooking

29 Sep

No more hot weather driving me out of the kitchen!

One of the benefits of having a freezer full of lamb year round is getting to try new and different recipes, and perfecting some of my favorites. So I plan to start posting some of those recipes here, particularly really great flavor combinations. Ever hear of Baharat spice blend? It’s a blend of spices, not unlike Curry Powder though with an entirely different flavor profile. Think coriander, clove, paprika, black pepper, cumin and cinnamon  with a dash of nutmeg and cardamom. It’s amazing as a dry rub over a roast, sprinkled on grilled lamb steaks, or mixed into ground lamb for meatballs or kofte. With a garlicky yogurt sauce to dip into and cool your mouth off, it’s amazing any time of the year. I’ll post the blend I use here soon, along with the kofte recipe.

And this weekend, I’ll be making a go at a very traditional Shepherd’s Pie, braising a lamb shoulder, turnips and carrots, and smothering it with potatoes. Root vegetables from our garden, lamb raised on our pastures, a home-cooked meal if there ever was one.

Another grand adventure to write about in future posts – over the next year we are going to be building a milking parlor and milk house and starting a flock of dairy sheep, along with opening a creamery to make sheeps milk cheese! I’ve started the process towards getting a cheese maker license, and plans and excavation are underway for putting the parlor and milk house. We’ll be sure to document with photos our process.

Lamb’s Big Year: Belly, Bacon, Neck, Shoulder Proliferating

23 Apr

Lamb is becoming hip — great news for small lamb producers that sell locally….

From Huffington Post

SAN FRANCISCO — There are fashions in meat, as in all things, but… Are you ready for lamb bacon?

That’s just one of the new dishes popping up on menus across the country as chefs experiment with American lamb, a trend driven partly by a concerted effort on the part of producers to shake off lamb’s dated image. Fussy crown roasts topped by tricky little frilled caps – out. “Lamb Jams,” cooking contests featuring local chefs getting their grill on – in.

“We’re definitely trying to approach a whole new generation and make lamb more approachable,” said Megan Wortman, executive director of the Denver-based American Lamb Board.

Why lamb now?

New Hampshire sheep farmer Jeff Conrad sees the trend as riding the wave of eating local. “People want to know where their food’s coming from,” he said. Conrad, who with his wife, Liz, runs Riverslea Farm near Epping, has noticed an increase in people buying lamb cuts for everyday meals, as opposed to previous years when he sold mainly whole animals to families looking to have a party.

“Ground lamb? We can’t even keep that around,” he said.

For chefs, cooking with lamb is something new, giving them a chance to stretch creatively. And if you use the lesser-known cuts – such as the neck and belly – it also can be cheaper, good for budget-stretching, said Matt Accarrino, executive chef at SPQR in San Francisco.

“I’ve been calling 2010 the year of the lamb,” he said with a laugh. “I’d rather have a lamb belly than a lamb rack. Braised and glazed, long and slow-cooked – it’s a very versatile cut. It’s much less expensive than, say, the rib chops. You see a lot of people working with lamb neck.”

Across the country, Mike Price, chef/owner of Market Table in New York City, has been selling more lamb and fewer steaks, “which I think is a good thing. I’m a big fan of lamb.”

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