Valley Bounty, January 11th, 2014: Lamb

Winter days call for warming food, and lamb fits the bill. Stews and roasts and spicy kebabs warm the kitchen and the belly both. On our Lamb Page, you’ll find recipes for deep dish lamb and squash pie with a potato crust, spicy lamb kebabs with pickled onions, and a traditional Irish stew from a local lamb farmer. Find local lamb at winter markets, or use our sourcing information to buy direct from a farmer.

Sources: Sources of locally grown lamb can be found here:
Lamb producers
Winter farmers’ markets
Winter CSAs, including meat CSAs


Here’s a few of my favorite lamb recipes.

Deep Dish Lamb Pie. This is a great variation on a shepherd’s pie that I’ve been making since it first came out in the New York Times in 1992. I like it because it includes winter squash as well as a potato crust. I’ve made it with and without dried apricots, mint leaves, and cilantro, and it’s good either way. I never add lemon rind, and almost never use saffron.

Spicy Lamb Meatballs
These spicy lamb meatballs, adapted from The Complete Meat Cookbook by Bruce Aidells and Denis Kelly, are a staple in our house. There are lot of ingredients but they are all mixed into the ground meat together, so it is easy and quick. The pickled onions that accompany them are also really good. We eat them in pita bread.

1 lb ground lamb
¼ cup minced onion
3 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp minced ginger—grated frozen local ginger is good
heaping ½ tsp tsp cumin
heaping ½ tsp coriander
½ tsp cardamom
¼ tsp allspice
heaping ½ tsp tumeric
¼ tsp cayenne
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
¼ cup yogurt
1 tbs cornstarch

The original recipe calls for ¼ cup chopped cilantro. I usually freeze cilantro and olive oil, mixed in the food processor, in blobs on a cookie sheet. In the winter, I thaw one of those to add to the meat.

Mix everything together well. Form into small patties and grill, fry, or boil until done. Serve in pita with fresh pickled onions.

Fresh Pickled Onions

Slice one red onion. Mix in a bowl with a ¼ cup lime juice, a little salt, and chopped cilantro—2 tbs or more (again, you can use frozen cilantro). If you’re using fresh cilantro, add a little olive oil. If you can do this in the morning before you make the spicy lamb burgers for dinner, and let it sit on the counter, that’s best. If it only sits for an hour or two, it’s still good.

We are also very fond of lamb stew. Here’s a recipe from Local Hero member Leyden Glen Lamb, which includes a good recommendation to use two kinds of potatoes. I also like to add additional root vegetables, especially parsnips and celeriac. Frozen vegetables, like green beans, can be added at the last minute. Kale or other greens are good fresh, frozen, or dried. Add more or less liquid depending on whether you like a more or less brothy stew.