Many different religions celebrate holy days during the spring. There are may ways of celebrating. One is the Orthodox Catholic custom of the Pascal Lamb. A family will adopt a lamb in the week before Palm Sunday. The whole family will cuddle, feed, and nurture this little lamb, and the children play with it. Then, on Easter eve, this pampered pet lamb is prayed over – and butchered. The family mourns. but the body of the lamb will be used to strengthen the bodies of the family and allow them to deepen their faith.
This week we share Monica King’s recipe for Roasted Lamb.
Southwestern Roasted Lamb Breast
Monica King here to share a new way of cooking an old family staple. Indeed, lamb has been a staple in my family for ages, it replaced many turkeys on the holiday tables. Though I do not raise any on my farm (yet) I always look for US grown cuts at my local grocery store. If you are new to lamb I recommend avoiding lamb raised in New Zealand or Australia because it has a stronger mutton flavor.
Sheep in the New World
The Southwest is no stranger to domesticated sheep as sources of both wool and meat. America’s first sheep, the Churra, is an ancient Iberian breed. Originally from the Iberian Peninsula (namely from Spain, Portugal and Andorra), this sheep was brought to the New World in the 16th century to feed and clothe the Conquistadors and Spanish settlers.
Sheep and the Dine (Navajo)
Over three centuries ago, the Dine (Navajo) started herding these Spanish Churra sheep on their land. Over time they developed the Navajo-Churro breed. The Dine herders selected for the sheep that would survive well in their rugged land, put on weight on minimal forage, and grow dense wool coats. The Navajo-Churro sheep is now a breed recognized by the American Sheep Industry. The Dine are famous for their wool weavings of beautiful naturally dyed rugs and blankets. Navajo Lamb Stew is a staple among the Dinetah.
On a trip to the reservation some years ago, I saw a sign for sheep meat prices. Interestingly, the most expensive was lamb, then there were two prices for different ages of sheep, with an old sheep or mutton being only 50 cents a pound. Probably not the price anymore but it sure made me chuckle as I totally understood age dictates quality.
Today, a cut that can be found at a reasonable price and full of wonderful flavor is lamb breast. I was recently introduced to this recipe by my mom. It is well worth the prep time and while roasting I guarantee the aromas will make your mouth water.
Roasted Lamb Breast
4 pounds lamb breast
roasting pan with lid or aluminum foil on hand
flat baking sheet or broiler pan
Rub for the Meat:
2 tablespoons olive oil 2 teaspoons salt 2 teaspoons ground cumin 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 teaspoon dried Italian herb seasoning 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon paprika
Honey Parsley Vinegar Sauce:
Make this Honey Parsley Vinegar Sauce, mix well and set aside. The flavors develop best when made up to 24 hours ahead of time (store in the refrigerator).
1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley 1/3 cup organic apple cider vinegar 1 lemon, juiced 2 cloves fresh crushed garlic 1 teaspoon local raw mesquite/wildflower honey * 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes 1 pinch salt
Take the meat out of the fridge at least one half hour ahead of time to help it come to room temperature. This helps insure a tender roast. Cooking cold meat leads to a tougher product.
1) Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
2) Make the vinegar sauce if you haven’t yet.
3) Whisk the rub ingredients together in a bowl.
4) Cut the lamb breast in half then rub in the rub mixture.
5) Transfer to a roasting pan with the fat side up.
6) Tightly cover with lid or aluminum foil and bake in the preheated oven for approximately 2 hours.
7) Meat is done when tender when pierced with a fork. For more about done-ness – visit the American Lamb site.
8) Remove from oven, rest for 5 minutes. Cut roast into 4 pieces.
9) Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees F.
10) Line baking sheet with aluminum foil and place lamb on top of it, non-fat side up.
11) Brush with fat drippings and pour Honey Parsley Vinegar Sauce over the top coating each piece.
12) Bake lamb another 20 minutes until meat is browned and edges are crispy.
13) Remove from oven and serve with additional Honey Parsley Vinegar Sauce.
* Honey Tip: When measuring honey, first lightly coat your measuring cup or spoon with vegetable oil. The sticky honey will slip right off!
Here’s More Honey Cooking!
May we suggest our dandy little cookbook? Using Honey in New and Savory Ways offers 36 pages of tips for using honey in your cooking, as well as in all manner of dishes. A steal at only $6!
We hope you will help support some local Southwest folks!
From the review:
“Honey is for more than desserts and this book can help! Using honey in cooking savory dishes helps engage all your taste buds and adds a layer of added flavor to everyday dishes – plus holiday fare.”
Beekeeper? We offer volume discounts – because if you sell honey in local markets you might want to offer some of these books as well.
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