Note: I received a free lamb shoulder from the American Lamb Board for review. Opinions are my own, and I was under no obligation to blog. Also, I am still missing my camera, so please excuse the iphone 4 photos...
Lamb had always been on my short-list of meats I'd like to avoid. Visions of adorable fluffballs and Easter scenes filled my mind and the tiny bit of College Vegetarian Ashley that remained somewhere inside of me rejected it. I should point out that this was before I'd ever even tasted lamb, and it was a decision based on nothing more than "this animal is cute and I don't want it."
Then at the Byte of Texas, I met a rep from the American Lamb Board and sat in on a seminar about lamb, and I was even more intrigued. Apparently, Dorper lamb is a specific breed that doesn't produce lanolin, which gives lamb a somewhat "gamey" taste sometimes.
Everyone in the class was sent a lamb shoulder to cook. I'd never in my life cooked lamb before, but after scouring the pamphlets included in my delivery and some thorough googling, I took on the task.
Overall, it was easy and the results were delicious. I was told by the leader of the seminar to just cook it "low and slow with a bit of wine" but being the overachiever I am, I added a few more things. I loved how my kitchen smelled (strangely) of goat cheese while it was roasting, and how tender and flavorful the meat came out. Plus the sauce is absolute amaze-balls. I was taking spoonfuls to "taste" even after my plate was empty.
If you're hesitant to try lamb, I suggest you take the plunge. Wait for it to go on sale if need be, and adapt your favorite beef recipe for lamb and I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.
Roast Lamb with Veggies and Gravy
(Loosely based on this recipe from Jamie Oliver)
- 1 lamb shoulder
- 3 tbs olive oil + 2 tbs olive oil
- 3 tbs herbs de provance + 1 tbs herbs de provance
- 2 long sprigs rosemary
- 1 head garlic, separated into cloves (no need to peel!)
- 1/2 cup red wine + 1/4 cup red wine
- 2 tbs sherry vinegar
- 3 cups assorted root veggies, chopped
- 2 tbs flour of choice
- 1 cup stock (I used chicken, beef or lamb will also work)
- 1 tbs chopped fresh basil
- 1 tbs butter
-Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees F. Line garlic and rosemary in the bottom of a dutch oven or covered baking dish. Pour 1/2 cup of the wine over the top.
-Rinse the lamb shoulder and make long, shallow cuts in the fatty side in a criss-cross pattern. Rub all over with 3 tbs of the olive oil and 3 tbs of the herbs de provance. Place on top of the garlic and place in oven.
-Immediately turn the heat down to 350 degrees F. Bake for 4 hours, until tender.
-With about 1 hour to go, prepare the veggies: toss with remaining olive oil and herbs, and line in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes or until root veggies begin to blister, turning every 15 minutes.
-After lamb has finished cooking, remove from pan and cover with aluminum foil. Pour off fat into a bowl and set aside.
-Use remaining wine to deglaze the pan over low heat (pour in wine, use spatula to scrape up all the burnt meat bits) raise heat to medium and add the fat. Whisk vigorously and slowly add the flour.
-Add stock and continue to whisk. Add vinegar and basil, and more flour if needed. Immediately before serving, add butter and whisk until smooth.
-Serve lamb in slices with veggies and gravy.