Alex's Lamb Neck Stew
2 pounds of lamb neck (or shoulder) cut into 2'' chunks
¼ cup olive oil
7 sprigs of fresh thyme
Juice from 1 ½ lemons
1. In a hot cast-iron skillet, add generous splashes of olive oil and brown the lamb on all sides.
2. Put the browned lamb into a pot and add water or stock almost covering the lamb, add the lemon juice and thyme.
3. Simmer until the lamb is very tender, about 45 minutes.
4. Serve the lamb and the broth in soup bowls accompanied with a good, crusty loaf of bread.
Adapted by Alex from the River Cottage Cookbook by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
JoEllen, my good customer in Montana, ordered boneless legs to make for her Australian guests; here's how she prepared and served the lamb:
“Marinated it with Guinness, garlic and fresh mint for 24 hours. Cooked it with Guinness, garlic, fresh mint, rosemary, thyme, and shallots. Served it with a mint sauce -- not a scrap left on the platter.”
“I found a delicious homemade apple mint jam at Farmers Market two weeks ago to serve with your lamb. Cooked up about 1/4 cup of fresh mint (minced) with the juice of a small lime and a hint of ginger and cardamom. Let it cool for about a minute then mixed the apple mint jam into it. ‘G'day mate,’ as Geoff would say."
Jeremy Ellison-Gladstone writes:
I just took home my first lamb leg steak* from your Greenmarket stand in USQ. I can't wait to enjoy it!
Like lots of foodies, I have lately become even more concerned with the ethical and environmental tolls that factory farming has taken on all parties involved (except for big business). The literature that is out now talks about how many animals are humanely raised but then sent to large scale slaughterhouses where horrific abuse often occurs. I spoke to your rep today at the Greenmarket who was well aware of how your animals are raised but really was only able to tell me that "They get sent off somewhere for slaughter." Have you been happy with the level of care demonstrated by the facility in the slaughtering process?
I thank you again for your help and your responsible farming.Jeremy Ellison-Gladstone
*a lamb leg steak is a center cut of a leg of lamb, about 1.5 inches thick.
As bluesman Albert King sings on a CD of mine, "Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die." Most people don't want to know about the last moments of a lamb's life, including my reps at market; so I go lightly there.
I use a small slaughterhouse that is owned by a 76 year old man. Howard Darling has an employee, Willy, who remembers when they started killing in La Plume in 1946. They are as humane as killers of animals can be; they care for the lamb before and they care for the lamb after. Death is small & personal in La Plume, not large & anonymous as agribusiness death is.
I wonder where I will take my sheep when Howard & Willy die.
I hope the lamb leg steak pleases you; I'm collecting lamb recipes and cooking anecdotes to post on the website; please tell me how you cooked it and give me permission to reprint your letter there too, as death is an important aspect of eating lamb raised on a small farm. And it is a subject that is best brought up by a patron of small farm food from a farmers' market.
Sorry it's taken a while for me to get back to you. I actually ended up freezing the lamb leg steak and making it tonight. First of all: Wow. I haven't had had lamb of this quality in a long time. It is deliciously rich and I will absolutely recommend you to my fellow friends/cooks. Here is the recipe I made up for tonight. Please feel free to post either the recipe or my original letter. I'll speak to you soon.
Preheat oven to 250
Heat a tsp of Olive Oil in a cast iron pan on high
Salt and pepper the lamb steak liberally
Sear the steak on high for 4 minutes per side
While lamb is searing, cut up a large potato
Remove lamb from pan and toss potato in juices left in the pan and then salt them
Toss in 3 cloves of whole garlic
Place seared lamb steak on top of potatoes and place in oven for about 20 minutes or until lamb reads 130 on an instant read thermometer
Remove lamb, turn potatoes, turn oven up to 500 and roast potatoes for 15 minutes more while lamb rests
Dice a red onion and toss with a small piece of feta cheese and whatever fresh herbs you have around and maybe some lemon juiceEnjoy. This is really, really good. : )
To plate, spoon roasted potatoes in center of plate. Place lamb (whole or sliced) on top and then top with feta/onion saladServe with a light bodied red wine (Rioja from Spain or Pinot Noir from France or Oregon)
Thanks again Eugene.
"The lamb from the “land of Goshen” was a definite hit with the 30 Sons of Norway members in the land of “the Big Sky” (better known as “the last best place”) at their “Syttende Mai” celebration in our home (Rollins, Montana) May 17. By all accounts, the two boneless legs of lamb were the most succulent – the best we have served over the past three years. Not a scrap remained on the serving platter. I decided to share the sauce recipe that I concocted for the lamb because it was well received. (Norskes don’t care for a mint sauce served with this meat.)"...
Several traditional dishes were brought by the members – among them, a cabbage dish called “farikal” which Norwegians often eat with lamb."
See the Lamb Gallery for JoEllen's Madiera sauce recipe that superbly compliments the boneless legs of lamb she prepared. Go to the Lamb Store for available cuts of lamb and for shipping information.
“Braising is a moist heat cooking method where lamb cuts are browned and cooked in a small amount of liquid. The liquid produces steam which helps tenderize the meat. Thus, this method of cooking is perfect for both small and large less tender cuts of lamb such as neck slices, shoulder cuts, riblets, breasts and shanks. A wide variety of lamb dishes may be braised.
To braise, heat a small amount of oil, fat or butter in a heavy frying pan and brown lamb on all sides. (The lamb may be first dusted with seasoned flour.) Pour off drippings and season as desired. Add a small amount of liquid such as water, vegetable juice or soup and vegetables. Cover pan tightly and cook at low temperature until tender. A sauce or gravy can be made from the cooking liquid.”
Timetable for Braising Lamb
Weight or Size
Approximate Cooking Time
1-3/4 pounds ¾ inch thick
1 to 1-1/2hour
Shoulder Chops, Round Bone or Blade
1-3/4 pounds 1 inch thick
1 to 1-1/4 hour
Breast, Stuffed (Bone-in)
2 to 3 pounds
1-1/2 to 2 hours
1-1/2 to 2 hours
1_to 1-1/2 hours
1-1/4 pounds 1 inch pieces
1-1/4 to 1-1/2 hours
1-1/2 to 2 pounds
1-1/2 to 2 hours
Courtesy of the American Lamb Board
Searching for "Braised Lamb Shoulder" will lead you to some interesting and surprisingly simple recipes.
*The shoulder can be roasted, but it should be marinated first and basted to help tenderize it