December 08: Your Kitchen

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December 08: Your Kitchen

Lie down with lamb

While the term “lamb” usually connotes spring, in this hemisphere we’re much more likely to have fresh, local lamb in the late fall and winter.  Technically speaking, baby lamb would

The Shebeen serves Sosatie with green lentils and yellow rice; choose pastured lamb for a stronger characteristic flavor.

be born in late winter so as to be ready in six to eight weeks (or right around Easter). Spring lamb ranges from 3 to 5 months old when eaten; regular lamb is slaughtered under a year of age (after which it becomes a yearling and then mutton at 2 years). Unless your neighbor raises sheep, it is difficult to find spring lamb because commercial producers continue feeding or grazing the animal so that it grows larger—and then set the price by pound.

“Gamey” is a term often used to describe lamb, although it has long been a very domestic creature. While taste is subjective, it seems gamier flavor is associated with pasture (as opposed to confinement), physical activity, and a diet as varied as the animal is able to forage. In contrast, any animal raised commercially is typically fed grains, soy and corn and its movement is severely restricted, resulting in a blander, fattier meat lacking most flavor characteristics associated with the species.—Lisa Reeder

Cooktop grill

When snowflakes are flying outside, the ole barbecue becomes an extreme cooking challenge; sure, you could still use it, but how long would a lamb chop take to grill when the air temperature is 25 degrees, and would you still be able to pick it up?

The stovetop grill brings it all inside.
This one is from The Happy Cook.

The alternative is a cast-iron grill pan that straddles two burners of the stove. The ridges on the grill provide some lift to the food so that air circulates around it, crisping rather than stewing. If you have a heat-resistant pot lid, the grill doubles as a panini press, and can always be used for bacon or sausages or toast or heating tortillas. Typically, the reverse side of the grill is a flat griddle with a dugout around it; this side is perfect for French toast and pancakes. You may never have to leave the house again!—L.R.

Sosatie

This long but not-too-difficult recipe for South African-style lamb kebobs comes your way from (where else?) The Shebeen.

Kebobs
Choose either 3 lbs. of boneless leg of lamb or 3 lbs. of boneless ham, or a combination of the two
2 bunches of long-stemmed fresh rosemary (if you can’t find rosemary with long stems, use skewer sticks)

Marinade
5 cups red wine vinegar
2 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
4 bay leaves
4 Tbs. apricot preserves
4 Tbs. mango chutney (they suggest Ms. Balls if you don’t make your own)
1 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
10 onions, finely diced

Trim meat of sinew and cut into 1"x1" cubes. Combine marinade ingredients. Toss meat and marinade, cover and let mixture marinate in refrigerator for a minimum of two days. Remove leaves from bottom 2/3 of rosemary stems and wrap remaining leaves in foil. Thread cubed meat onto “rosemary skewers.” Skewers can be seared in hot sauté pan and then removed to 350-degree oven for finishing, or grilled on gas or, preferably, charcoal grill. Remove foil before serving.