Archive for the ‘lamb’ Category

Re-posting this on National Cheeseburger Day!

When it comes to grilling, lamb is often overlooked. Yet it’s a wonderful, flavorful meat that makes a great burger. The taste of lamb can be a bit strong, however, so I mix 1 lb of ground lamb with 1 lb of ground grass-fed beef.

Ingredients:

1 lb ground lamb
1 lb ground beef
2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons extra Virgin olive oil
4 Tablespoons minced Spanish onion
2.5 teaspoons whole grain Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon each fresh parsley, mint, and dill, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried Greek oregano
.5 teaspoon cumin
1 large clove garlic, squeezed through a garlic press
1 scallion, finely chopped, green part only
1 teaspoon salt
.5 teaspoon black pepper

Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over high heat. Add onions. Cook until browned, about 6 minutes. Transfer onions to a plate. Let cool.
In a bowl, mix onions, lamb, pork, mustard, herbs, spices, garlic, scallions, salt and pepper.
Form meat into slider-sized patties. Place on baking sheet covered with non-stick foil, and place in fridge.
Prepare a medium-hot charcoal fire.

lamburger

To keep the Greek flavors going, I came up with this feta cheese dressing that works great with the lamburgers.

Ingredients:
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1  cup mayo
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper sauce, like Franks Red Hot
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
4–5 ounces crumbled feta cheese

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate. Best the next day.

Don’t let the lamburgers get too cold in the fridge…just enough to firm the meat up a bit. If it gets too cold, give it a few minutes at room temp to warm up again.  Grill burgers until cooked to medium. Place on slider buns with lettuce and tomato, and smear the bun with the feta cheese dressing.

Many people are turned off by lamb because somewhere in their past, they had a horribly cooked piece of meat that ruined it for the rest of their lives. I’m here to tell you: don’t be sheepish! “Man up” and try lamb again!

If you think lamb is too “gamey,” buy American lamb over New Zealand or Australian lamb. Although the animals are mostly pasture-raised, most American lamb is larger and grain finished, which results in a milder flavor. Unfortunately, like with non grass-fed American beef, this also results in a larger, fattier animal, and a less healthy cut of meat.

I prefer 100% grass-fed lamb. You can find it from the US, but most often it comes from New Zealand. Having been to the country, I can tell you that the quality is unmatched and the grasslands in New Zealand are the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. New Zealand lamb is smaller and is slaughtered at a younger age than American lamb, making it very tender. In New Zealand, as well as many other countries, only an animal under 12 months of age and without incisors can be called “lamb.” No such labeling is required in the United States.

I love the baby lamb chops that look like miniature porterhouse steaks. You can find them in any supermarket. a good marinade will get rid of any of those flavors you don’t want. Here’s an easy recipe that I served at a party in my home for 40 people, many of whom claimed they didn’t like lamb or never had it before. By the end of dinner, the chops were gone!

lamb LTL

 

Ingredients:

 

½ cup olive oil

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

2 cloves garlic, through a garlic press

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped

1 tablespoon honey

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Salt and pepper

 

Place lamb meat in a plastic bag. Combine all ingredients for marinade and pour over lamb. Seal the bag and squish it around so that the marinade reaches every part of the chops. Place in refrigerator for a few hours…overnight is better. Pre-heat your barbecue grill. Grill lamb until done. That means cooked no more than medium. Don’t cook it to death! If you can’t get to a grill, place the lamb in an oven-proof pan and sear on all sides. Then place in a 350-degree oven to cook all the way through.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s interesting how we sometimes stumble upon great food finds. After taking our daughter to the Boston Museum of Science on a recent Saturday, we decided to eat at a small family run Italian restaurant in a blue-collar neighborhood in East Boston, one that was featured a few years ago on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” with Guy Fieri. It’s called Rino’s Place, and we’ve been waiting for the opportunity to try the food there for a long time.

Rino’s Place opens at 3PM. We got there at 3PM. The line was out the door and down the street, with a 3-hour wait. (They don’t take reservations for parties smaller than 6.) I don’t care how good the food is supposed to be…I’m not going to wait 3 hours to eat pasta. So, disappointed, we drove off, hoping to perhaps visit Rino’s on a less popular weekday some other time.

Meanwhile,  my wife, the artist, was scanning the neighborhood and found an interesting art gallery, Atlantic Works, nearby. We decided to check it out. There wasn’t much to see, but the ladies that ran the joint told us that Rino’s, in their opinion, was good but overrated. The exposure Rino’s got from DDD was so huge that they even bought the convenience store across the street from the restaurant and converted it into a bar for those that chose to wait for their tables. Total cash cow.

Just down the road from the Atlantic works, the ladies told us, was a funky little joint that made authentic Australian meat pies. That sounded good. They said it was tucked away inside a funky old marina that featured bizarre metal sculptures on the roofs of the buildings. That sounded intriguing. Off we went.

photo

A few lefts and rights…a little loss of GPS at one moment…and we arrived at the Boston Harbor Marina. Definitely the slow season, as many of the boats were still shrink-wrapped, but you could see this place had potential in the summertime, with huge metal sculptures of fish and mermaids on the property. And sure, enough, tucked away in a far corner was KO Catering and Pies, our Aussie meat pie joint.

pie2

It was cold and windy outside, but some brave souls were sitting at the picnic tables outside, enjoying their meals. We chose to buy a bunch of frozen pies and take them home to re-heat.

They were awesome: beef with cheese, braised lamb shank, beef stew…all surrounded by some of the most delicious and flakiest pie crusts you ever bit into.

more pie

KO has another location in south Boston as well. Either one is worth a visit. Start here: http://www.kocateringandpies.com

I’ve been asked to list my sources for the organic, pastured, wild-caught or grass-fed foods I use in my recipes. I’ve had many successes as well as many failures with purveyors of foods over the years, but I’ve been able to find a handful of websites that deliver what they promise.

Of course, I support my local farmers. And if they’ve got the product I’m looking for, I will buy from them first. But the convenience of ordering from home is unbeatable…and sometimes you don’t live anywhere near a farm that can supply you with what you’re looking for.

My philosophy is simple: I will pay top dollar if the quality is there. I would rather eat exceptional quality meat and seafood rarely than antibiotic-laced, hormone-injected crap every day.

When it comes to seafood, I buy wild-caught (line-caught in the case of fish) American products. I’m OK with some farmed fish, like USA catfish and trout, which are of high quality. I buy Pacific cod, not Atlantic cod, which has been depleted in its numbers. I don’t buy orange roughy or Chilean sea bass because of overfishing. Same with swordfish unless it’s local and line-caught. I never buy farmed shrimp from Asia or South America, where there are no rules about what they feed them and how badly they crowd them in nets. I don’t buy Atlantic salmon, which is farmed and comes from Norway, Canada or South America. I buy wild-caught Alaskan salmon and halibut. Farmed oysters and mussels are fine, because their habitat is about the same as in the wild, and we have great sources for them here in Rhode Island.

It’s expensive to eat well. My family is worth it. I cut corners elsewhere.

TALLGRASS

www.tallgrassbeef.com: Owned by TV journalist Bill Curtis, they sell a variety of 100% grass-fed beef steaks, burgers and dogs. Just recently, they started selling my favorite cut: the porterhouse. But more than anything, this is my go-to website for grass-fed hamburger. They sell them in 1 lb. bricks, and I’ll buy about 24 lbs. at a time. I prefer the bricks over the pre-formed burger patties, because I use them for meatballs and tacos…not just burgers. Best burger I’ve had.

pork

www.heritagepork.com: A great website for Berkshire heritage pork. This is not the pale, flavorless stuff you get in a supermarket. Berkshire pork is known in Japan as Kurobuta pork, and is considered the “Kobe” of pork. Excellent quality, beautifully marbled fat, and delicious. I’ve bought the pork chops, the ribs, pork loin and the pork belly, and none of them has disappointed. Excellent service.

salmon

www.vitalchoice.com: If you’re looking for incredible wild-caught Alaskan seafood, this is the site. Wild salmon, tuna and shellfish. Frozen right after it’s caught. Rare treats like wild Pacific spot prawns, some of the tastiest shrimp you’ll ever eat. Hard-to-find organic grass-fed Wagyu beef. (Wagyu is American Kobe beef.)

 

www.westwindfarms.com: Without a doubt, some of the best chicken I have ever had in my life comes from this family run farm in Tennessee. Delicious not-too-big (about 4 lb.) birds. And their chicken wings are the best ever–period. No scrawny wings here: they come with breast meat attached, making them a real treat. They also sell grass-fed beef, lamb, pork, organic products and more. I’ve tried their other products, but for me, it’s all about the chicken. If you’re in Tennessee or Georgia, they have many pick-up locations to choose from. I go the mail-order route, and I think I might be their only online customer! But their service is top-notch.

 

www.cajungrocer.com: My trusted go-to place for any Cajun food you could want, from Turduckens (excellent quality) to alligator sausage, to live crawfish (in season.) This is where I get all of my wild-caught American gulf shrimp. Even with shipping costs, their prices are so much better than any local seafood store. Excellent service.

Burgerssswww.smokehouse.com Burgers’ Smokehouse has been around since 1952 and they’ve got it down to a science. You won’t find grass-fed or organic products here, but you will find great bacon, ham, turkey and other smoked products. Their Thick Original Country Bacon Steak is what I always buy…12 lbs. at a time. Their cooked and spiral sliced country ham is a real treat. Not only is their service awesome, but unlike other websites that surprise you with crazy shipping costs after you’ve spent an hour getting your order together, all of Burger’s price include shipping. That rocks!

http://www.mcallenranchbeef.com: Beef of the highest quality and outstanding flavor, although not grass-fed. This historic Texas ranch, established in 1791, has been dealing with droughts which have limited their supply of beef, and their website says their beef supplies will be back to full speed by June of this year.

www.grassfedbeef.org: This is the website of Tendergrass Farms, a supplier of grass-fed beef, pastured pork, and organic meats. We’ve had some success with the beef, and we also purchased a very tasty turkey from them for Thanksgiving last year.

www.drinkupny.com: It’s time for as drink! And these guys, based in Brooklyn, NY, have just about anything you could want. It may seem silly to order your spirits online instead of going to your local liquor store, but these guys have the high-end things my local guy doesn’t…and they’ve got better prices on the stuff he does have. Shipping is fast and reasonably priced.

www.empirewine.com: Need wine? These guys are based in upstate NY and they’ve got a huge choice of excellent wines at great prices. Shipping is FAST, but make sure they ship to your state to avoid disappointment.

Coming in a future blog: my sources for the gardening season: seeds, plants and more.

When it comes to grilling, lamb is often overlooked. Yet it’s a wonderful, flavorful meat that makes a great burger. The taste of lamb can be a bit strong, however, so I mix 1 lb of ground lamb with 1 lb of ground grass-fed beef.

Ingredients:

1 lb ground lamb
1 lb ground beef
2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons extra Virgin olive oil
4 Tablespoons minced Spanish onion
2.5 teaspoons whole grain Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon each fresh parsley, mint, and dill, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dried Greek oregano
.5 teaspoon cumin
1 large clove garlic, squeezed through a garlic press
1 scallion, finely chopped, green part only
1 teaspoon salt
.5 teaspoon black pepper

Heat 2 Tablespoons olive oil in a skillet over high heat. Add onions. Cook until browned, about 6 minutes. Transfer onions to a plate. Let cool.
In a bowl, mix onions, lamb, pork, mustard, herbs, spices, garlic, scallions, salt and pepper.
Form meat into slider-sized patties. Place on baking sheet covered with non-stick foil, and place in fridge.
Prepare a medium-hot charcoal fire.

lamburger

To keep the Greek flavors going, I came up with this feta cheese dressing that works great with the lamburgers.

Ingredients:
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
1  cup mayo
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper sauce, like Franks Red Hot
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
4–5 ounces crumbled feta cheese

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate. Best the next day.

Don’t let the lamburgers get too cold in the fridge…just enough to firm the meat up a bit. If it gets too cold, give it a few minutes at room temp to warm up again.  Grill burgers until cooked to medium. Place on slider buns with lettuce and tomato, and smear the bun with the feta cheese dressing.

So many people are afraid to try lamb, and I don’t understand why. On the grill, lamb is absolutely delicious.

I think that most people are turned off by lamb because somewhere in their past, they had a horribly cooked piece of it, and that event ruined it for the rest of their lives.

I’m here to tell you that you need to “man up” and try lamb again! And the two recipes below will make it one of your go-to grill ingredients…

I love the baby lamb chops that look like miniature porterhouse steaks. You can find them in any supermarket. If you think lamb has a strong taste, a good marinade will get rid of any of those flavors you don’t want. Here’s an easy recipe that I served at a party in my home for 40 people, many of whom claimed they didn’t like lamb or never had it before. By the end of dinner, the chops were gone!

 

½ cup olive oil

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped

1 Tablespoon honey

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Salt and pepper

 

Place lamb meat in a plastic bag or glass container with a lid. Combine all ingredients for marinade and pour over lamb. Toss lamb to coat. Seal container and place in refrigerator for at least an hour. Pre-heat your barbecue grill. Grill lamb until done. That means cooked no more than medium. Don’t cook it to death!

 

 

Here’s another recipe that doesn’t require marinating ahead of time:

 

2/3 cup Dijon mustard

3 Tablespoons orange zest

3 Tablespoons fresh thyme leaves

4 teaspoons packed light brown sugar

salt and pepper, to taste

 

Mix orange zest and thyme into a paste. Add mustard and brown sugar. Mix together. Pre-heat grill. Brush the mixture onto each side of the lamb chops and place on a hot grill for about 2 minutes per side. Turn the chops and brush again. Continue until done. Season with salt and pepper.

Try either of these recipes, and I guarantee you’ll be cooking lamb more often!