Monday, November 30, 2009
Food For Thought...
And for the table!
November seems to be about two major things for me...a return to hearty fall and winter cooking and the tie-in that has to Thanksgiving. (Okay, it is also about some special birthdays in the month - but even those seem connected to food thoughts - LOL!)
I have been meaning to write about one of my favorite foods all summer. One of my favorite foods that also happens to be home grown right here on our farm, another part of the diversity of our life as farmers and shepherds. I'm talking about good ol' delicious, nutritious American (Michigan, Serenity Farms) lamb for the table!
Growing up with sheep, we never ate lamb or mutton. My mom refused to cook it, isn't that funny? Though now I know lots of shepherds who don't eat it, so maybe it isn't so unusual. My folks and brother at home still raise sheep and still don't eat the meat. I love it. I really, truly love it. Lamb is my favorite meat - well, a good slice of bacon or ham is right up there at the top of the list, too! But then again, a slice of Serenity Farms Lamb Ham (one of our special cuts, smoked and everything, is pictured below) holds its own against the pork any day!
Over the years I have had good lamb and bad. Some of it really, really bad. Often the worst I have tasted I have eaten at sheep producing events or really expensive restaurants, if you can believe it! Watery, thin, grey, unappetising fare or else so highly seasoned and dressed up that you couldn't taste the meat - ugh! Would you like to know my "secret" for good, edible lamb for the table? I treat it just like any other meat - I use it in my favorite recipes, substituting it for beef or pork in the list of ingredients. I am not a fan of the "lamb is best prepared rare or medium rare" way of thinking. One of the things I am not overly fond of with lamb is both its texture (kind of like veal or venison or liver) and its color ;) I like to put a good "brown" on the meat with a quick sear or fry in the pan or on the grill. And I like it cooked all the way through, falling away from the bone. Lamb that has been well raised and properly processed - doesn't come out dry, in my opinion.
Did you know that (according to The American Lamb Board, "lamb is a good source of protein, niacin, zinc, iron and Vitamin B-12? And that compared to other meats, lamb has very little fat marbling throughout. Most of the fat is limited to the outside edges of the meat, so it is easily trimmed away." And while some might add additional fat to their ground lamb, we do not. I like it lean and dry and full of nothing but what we raised here on our property.
That brings us to another part of the equation - the part where what goes into raising lamb for the table and how it is processed contribute to the quality of the flavor. How about if I write more about that tomorrow, and maybe share a few of my families favorite recipes with lamb? By the way, if you have ever eaten at my house and been served meat with the meal...it may very well have been lamb ((grin))
Our favorite way with lamb...chops over a charcoal grill! And of course, the first photo in this post shows a juicy lamb burger, cooked over charcoal with homemade rolls, a good honey mustard and lettuce and onions fresh from the garden. All things to be thankful for!