A few years ago, I made a dry-cured, long aged lamb ham. Results were mixed. It was delicious, but a little dry. My opinion is lamb ham, which has gotten a big press push this Easter season, suffers from a lack of rind. It dries a little more quickly than I’d like and works better aging in humid atmosphere. Once I took down the smokehouse for the Spring/Summer season, my hot smoker was back up and running, and waiting to be used. Thinking about what to make for the first hot-smoke of the season, I thought a city ham would be simple choice, but with the pure mass on a pork leg created a reluctance which pushed me to a city lamb ham, city hamb.
A fifteen minute walk through a small-town Wisconsin farmer’s market yielded some of the finest variety meats I have had in some time for prices so low I could not fathom how there was so much to buy. In a state where offal is less flashily portrayed and truly ends up on your grandma’s dinner table rather than on a contrived dish using her as a prop, I was surprised to see offal from seemingly pristinely raised animals being ignored. Even so, there was an old man in traditional Amish garb selling what appeared to be some great lamb. I asked about offal and he brought out what he had. For a couple dollars (literally), I bought every last lamb heart the guy had with him. Then some ground lamb as well to make it worth his while. Continue reading
Sitting at dinner with great company on a frigidly cold winter night, a dish came out with lamb pancetta. A few of the guests were surprised by the substitution of lamb for pig in the pancetta. After discussing the intricacies of how to make lambcetta, I offered to make some for a friend with a fantastic sense of taste. I asked what he wanted flavor-wise and he suggest to go off-script with cinnamon. When looking through a spice shop, I noticed cassia buds which are simply dried buds of the cinnamon tree and carry similar, but more floral flavors than more traditional cinnamon. Continue reading
There are perfect pairings – peas & carrots, chilis & mint, peanut butter & jelly, ham & everything – and then there is the combination of lamb and anchovy. There is no Smuckers jar with alternating stripes of lamb and anchovy, but rest assured, there should be. The salty depth of the anchovy combined with the gaminess of the lamb work together to create an amazingly forward and deep savoriness (see lamb neck, as an example). When I was looking for a new sausage pairing, I saw a deli of salt-cured anchovies sitting next to a plate of lamb leg and it made me think “Why is there no standard lamb-anchovy sausage?” Continue reading
This weekend has been the first for over three months with full access to a kitchen. After stacking meats in the freezer for months, I went to the lamb liver I had been holding onto since making lamb liver pudding. The idea I kept coming back to wa a sausage I have eaten plenty, never made, and was high on my list – braunschweiger. Continue reading
Going into July 4th, I was in a cooking rut. With time being more limited due to other obligations and a new commute combined with limited space and tools, I felt stifled. At first, I pressed. That did not work, so I backed off for a little while. Continue reading
Inspiration and ideas are great things, but without execution, they disappoint. This was an idea from a long time ago, but sloppy execution took it from the must-have-again list to the must-try-again list.
It was last fall, as I tossed a bunch of concord grapes into my brussels sprouts with lamb bacon, when the trigger was made. The concords were roasted with the sprouts and the lamb to where you could get a little bit in each bite. Despite being a huge fan of sprouts, I kept pushing them aside to get bites with only lamb and grapes. It was a combo that was unfamiliar but amazingly good. Continue reading
There are cookbooks which you breeze through and pick things out as you flip pages quickly, never actually reading much. Then there are cookbooks where you read every word, then you read every word over again and you keep reading the book from cover to cover and accidentally forget to ever cook anything from the book despite the book overflowing with dishes that appeal on most levels. The Art of Living According to Joe Beef is the second kind. To me, it is an instant classic – mixing retro French cuisine and their own playfulness. The book exudes fun and punches pretension in the throat, but sadly I have taken only inspiration, but not any dishes. On Easter, that would change. Continue reading
I am a hoarder. I admit it. In fact, I admitted it to a communal dining table on Saturday evening. Granted, the table was filled with a few friends, others known online and a few less than that, but, in my mind, the first step to solving a problem is to admit that you have one. Admitting that I hoard animal fat was the start I needed to solving the problem. Continue reading