For years, I claimed that most lamb was 100% grass-fed, since lambs grow fairly quickly (8-10 months) and can thrive on minimal land. So imagine my surprise when I discovered that over half of American lamb is actually confined and “finished” on fed grain (GMO CORN!) To make this more complicated this past January, the USDA withdrew the Grass (Forage) Fed Claim and verification for livestock. This means that no one will be checking to see if your grass fed meat is REALLY 100% grass-fed. This is more reason to only purchase meat from a trusted local farmer.
As lamb sales increase this week because of Easter, consider lamb over pork IF you are standing at the grocery counter looking over the meat selection.
Lamb is a better choice if you are worried about the humaneness with which your meat is raised. There are a few large feedlots which raise lamb in Colorado, but generally, lamb is a better choice. Most lamb are raised outdoors and most are on grass for at least the first part of their lives. Knowing your farmer is the most optimal in determining that meat is raised safely, organically, and humanely. Look for local lamb.
I am often asked why grass fed is better and here is why
Grass-fed meat is higher in …
Carotenoids and trace nutrients.
CLA and TVA (super healthy fats)
…than grain fed.
I was asked this week about New Zealand and Australian Lamb:
Our meat growers down under have had some poor grass years and are turning to grain fed to finish their lamb (not so much in New Zealand, but Australia is quickly transitioning to grain-finishing). Most of the imported lamb in the US, comes from New Zealand, as there is a lamb shortage (internationally) and most Australian Lamb goes to the Middle East and China.
So let’s get down to cooking this lamb. (Hopefully up have not lost your appetite after reading this)
This recipe calls for a deboned leg of lamb. Legs vary in size with an average leg being 4.5 pounds for a locally raised deboned leg of lamb. I personally prefer the leg with the bone in, but most home cooks prefer a deboned lamb leg.
The cooking time will be a bit longer if you have a leg with the bone it it, but use a thermometer to ensure the doneness of your meat.
Butterflied simply means that the bone has been removed or the meat was sliced away from the bone. Simply fold the two ends in and flip the lamb leg over before placing in roasting pan.
LAMB FOR EASTER
Preheat oven to 450°F
1 4.5 lb lamb leg – deboned
For the paste mixture rub:
4 garlic cloves minced
¼ cup of rosemary leaves
8 whole garlic cloves
8 sprigs of thyme – leaves removed
juice of one lemon
For deglazing the pan:
1 cup red wine
1 cup stock – beef or lamb or chicken
2 onions minced
Make a paste mixture of minced garlic, lemon juice and rosemary & thyme leaves. Season the meat with salt and pepper and rub the lamb all over with paste. Smooth it evenly all over the surface of the meat. Allow the lamb to rest for one hour with the paste/seasonings at room temperature.
Place the lamb in the oven and roast for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350°F and cook for about 1 hour longer, or until the internal temperature of the lamb is 135° (rare) or 145° (medium). Be sure the thermometer does not touch the bone (if there is one). Remove from the oven and put the lamb on a platter; cover tightly with aluminum foil. Allow the lamb to rest for about 20-30 minutes before slicing.
While the lamb is resting, deglaze the pan:
Using the pan that the meat was cooked in, place the pan over the burner and turn on the burner to medium. Pour in the wine and stock and mix with the drippings. Add the minced onions to pan, and stir to combine. Scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon to release any meat particles, then stir continuously to cook and reduce. Reduce over high heat until it forms a sauce consistency. Slice lamb and serve with sauce drizzled over the top.
NEW SPINACH SOUFFLE
This is an easy side dish for Easter Brunch.
If you are serving a more formal dinner, consider serving ramekins on a larger plate with spring greens or asparagus.
If you are entertaining, prepare everything ahead except the egg whites. Twenty five minutes before serving, beat the egg whites and fold in the mixture. Place in the oven and serve hot out of the oven.
I like to serve it with a Preserved Lemons & Green Chili Sauce on baby beet slices.
3/4 pound spinach
2 tablespoons butter (1 for buttering ramekin, 1 for cooking onion/garlic)
1 small onion cut in half sliced thin
2 cloves garlic minced
⅔ cup aged gouda or hard cheddar, shredded
5 egg yolks
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
7 egg whites
Preheat the oven to 400°F. With 1 tablespoon butter, lightly butter the inside of a 2 litre soufflé dish or 6 individual ceramic ramekins. In a skillet on low, saute the onions and garlic in 1 tablespoon butter for a few minutes to soften – add the spinach and allow to wilt. As soon as it wilts (less than a minute), remove from the heat. Then place the greens and the onion/garlic mixture, along with the butter and the cheese in a blender or food processor. Add 2 tablespoons vinegar (if you have a nice flavored vinegar in the cupboard, this is the place to use it). Blend the greens until smooth.
Beat the egg yolks for one full minute with a high speed hand held blender until thick and then add the green mixture to the yolks. Blend well. Wash the beaters well and dry, otherwise when you go to use the beaters for the whites, the whites will not beat well. Beat the egg whites until stiff.
VERY Gently fold the whites into the green mixture.
Spoon the batter into the individual ramekins or into the soufflé dish and bake for 20-25 minutes. Serve immediately.
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