Lamb

Scouse is a form of stew popular in Northern Europe. The English word scouse is a shortened form of lobscouse, taken from similar words like the Norwegian lapskaus, Swedish lapskojs, and Danish labskovs. The dish, which likely originated in the Baltic, is a traditional sailor’s stew consisting of salted meat or fish and thickened with ship’s biscuits. Today, the word is closely related to the port city of Liverpool, to the point where inhabitants of Liverpool are colloquially called “Scousers”.

In my research, I focused on the modern Liverpool interpretation of Scouse, and quickly found that there is a certain pride in preparing what’s known today as a “proper Scouse”. A proper Scouse, it seems, is low on ingredients, indicative of the dish’s humble origins. Today, the dish is prepared with lamb neck, onion, carrots, and potato – and not much else. In keeping with this tradition, I kept the ingredients list to a minimum; no fancy parsley here. This dish is typically served with pickled cabbage or beets, so grab those when you’re at the market, too.

My main purpose in creating and sharing this recipe was to treat it as an exercise in restraint, relying only on salt and pepper to perfect the stew’s subtle profile. To round out the flavor, many will serve HP Sauce with the finished stew (HP Sauce is a UK-based brown sauce that is like a cross between ketchup and Worcestershire sauce). As a concession, I flavored my stew with Worcestershire near the end, for those of us without access to this condiment.

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Bobotie is a baked mincemeat dish and one of the more recognizable foods to come out of South Africa. It’s commonly believed that Bobotie was first derived from the Javanese dish Botok, as Dutch colonists brought the dish to South Africa from their settlements in Indonesia (née Dutch East Indies) in the 17th century. While Botok is made with minced meat wrapped in banana leaves, Bobotie is often seasoned with curry powder and dried fruit and baked with a egg custard topping – a reflection of both local ingredients and European colonial tastes.

This dish joins the ranks of other dishes on my blog, like Mulligatawny Soup and Sukuma Wiki, as exotic-tasting meals that can be created using items you likely already have in your pantry. These are some of my favorite dishes to create and share, as they have a fairly low barrier to entry but can expand your palate and culinary repertoire.

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Vindaloo is a curry dish originating in the Goa region of West India. It is actually the Indian interpretation of the Portuguese dish Carne de Vinha D’Alhos (Meat with Wine and Garlic), borrowed from the Portuguese colony in Goa. The original dish is seasoned with vinegar, and that slightly sour taste remains in most Indian interpretations today.

While you’ll find potatoes in Vindaloos at many Indian restaurants worldwide, Vindaloo purists will argue that the dish shouldn’t have potatoes; what’s interesting is that the original Portuguese dish does indeed feature potatoes. So they were lost at some point, only to find their way back again. The Indian dish does stray from its source, though: Carne de Vinha D’Alhos is usually made with pork, and the Vindaloos you’ll find in Indian restaurants is most often made with lamb. Likewise, the Indian dish is moderately spicy, unlike its Portuguese counterpart. For this recipe, I kept the heat fairly mild; to spice it up, simply add more chili powder.

After such a warm reception to my pressure-cooker Instant Stew recipe from a couple weeks ago, I decided to make this dish using my Instant Pot electric pressure cooker as well. For those of you without a pressure cooker, fear not: stovetop instructions are included. At its essence, the recipes are the same; the pressure cooker just cuts down the cooking time considerably.

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Spring has totally sprung here in Maryland. The temperatures are nice and warm most days, and we’re getting daily rain showers – perfect for new grass but not so great for taking our new dog for a walk. Oh yeah, we got a new dog. I’m not sure why we didn’t earlier; having a dog around has basically doubled my time outside, guaranteeing that I go on daily walks and hiking on the weekends.

Roasting a leg of lamb is a spring tradition in many cultures, particularly surrounding Easter and Passover. While roasting a leg of lamb may sound intimidating, it’s one of the easiest roasts to get right. The meat is naturally tender, so no marinating is required – in fact, marinating is often discouraged since adding acid would denature the tender meat.

As my friend Chef Schneller (who I met while touring the Culinary Institute of America last year) points out, the term “spring lamb” refers to a lamb born in the spring and eaten in the summer. Lambs sold in the early spring are typically from a particular breed (English Dorset) that are born in the fall, milk-fed through the winter, and feed on young grass before slaughter. Generally, a lamb is around six months old when slaughtered, although any sheep under a year old is classified as lamb.

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Tagine Makfoul is a traditional Moroccan curry made with goat or lamb. When my friends Brent and Heather of Virginia is for Hunter-Gatherers recently invited us over for dinner, promising some goat shoulder to accompany their excellent company, I knew that this recipe was the perfect choice; goat becomes tender after extended cooking, and serving it with makfoul (caramelized onion and tomatoes) adds a deliciously sweet and fresh dynamic to an already tasty dish.

This post is actually the second of a joint collaboration with Brent and Heather – be sure to check out another dish that we made on that same day, Tom Kha Gai, which is hosted on their wonderful site.

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Last year I made a gyro meat recipe based on Alton Brown’s method, which I really like. It’s a great way to use ground lamb, and it produces some really great results. The only thing that prevents it from being an all-time great is that it involves a bit of work – blending everything in a food processor, wrapping it with plastic wrap, letting it sit out for two hours, then roasting it in a water bath. It’s not a huge deal, but not a quick and easy meal by any means. So I’ve always wanted to work out a grilled gyros recipe that produces similar tastes but with minimal work. When US Wellness Meats asked me to try their new lamb tenderloin, it was time to put my new idea to the test.

Gyro meat, often referred to as doner or shawarma meat, is meat roasted on a rotating vertical spit and shaved off. Most Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern countries have some variation of this dish as a common street food. Depending on where you’re getting it, the meat can be made of lamb, beef, goat, chicken or a combination of meats.

Slightly off-topic, but I was recently a guest on the Born Primal podcast, where I talked about my health history and some of my culinary inspirations. Let me know what you think.

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I have a feeling that if you asked a child what sweetbreads are, and then asked a chef, you’d get wildly varying answers. The word “sweetbread” first popped up in the 1500s, and it’s hard to tell what part of the animal they were referring to: historians generally agree that it’s likely the thymus gland or pancreas. Today, the word is often used for many small organs, from the sublingual gland to (gasp!) the testicle. Common sense assumes that these glands were eaten regularly throughout history, and was probably highly sought after due to their rarity (in relation to the rest of the food you get from an animal) and delicacy.

When my friends at US Wellness Meats offered to send me some of their lamb sweetbreads to try, I jumped at the opportunity; I hadn’t made them at home before, and I was up for a challenge. It turns out that they are relatively simple to make, they just take a little finesse and patience. To fill out the dish, I wanted to add something hearty and filling (cauliflower purée), something sweet (a pear reduction sauce), and a firm texture to make sure the dish didn’t turn out to “mushy” and to add a sharper taste to everything (spring greens tossed in balsamic vinaigrette). It all turned out beautifully.

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Attukal Paya (sometimes spelled as Aattukaal Paya or just Paya) is a hearty soup made with lamb, sheep, or goat feet served in South India. What fascinates me about this dish is that it’s often served for breakfast – initially this sounded strange to me, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense; why not start your day out with some nutritious bone broth soup?

I also love the idea of throwing together a bunch of ingredients at night and waking up to breakfast already made!

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NOTE: An updated version of this recipe appears in my cookbook, The Ancestral Table.

A tagine is a type of slow-cooked Moroccan stew, which gets it name from the pot it is usually cooked in, also named tagine (طاجين). It is often spelled as tajine as well. A typical tagine is made with cheaper cuts of lamb or beef, like shoulder or shank, but can also be used with chicken and seafood. Seasonal fruits like dates, raisins, and apricots are often used, as well as honey and preserved lemons.

For this recipe, I decided to make a baseline lamb tagine dish – no frills or gimmicks, just a simple template for you to follow. Feel free to experiment with tastes, especially different veggies (potatoes and olives add an interesting dynamic) and meats as you see fit. Since preserved lemons aren’t the easiest thing in the world to find (although making them yourself seems pretty easy), using chopped lemon rind works almost as well, and it’s what I usually use at home. Lastly, while tagines are very pretty looking, that’s a lot of cookware just for one type of dish – my trusty Le Creuset dutch oven worked out beautifully, as always.

Also, don’t forget that I am hosting a $50 gift card giveaway for Lava Lake Lamb this week! I used their delicious lamb shoulder for this recipe, and I can’t say enough good stuff about how well it turned out.

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NOTE: An updated version of this recipe appears in my cookbook, The Ancestral Table.

Although meat pies have been eaten in the British Isles since the Middle Ages (14th Century, last I heard), Shepherd’s Pie as we know it today coincided with the arrival of the potato in Europe. The Spanish brought potatoes to Europe in 1520, but they didn’t catch on until the 18th Century in Great Britain. Shepherd’s Pie appeared shortly thereafter – although under its original name, Cottage Pie, and made mostly with beef. The term Shepherd’s Pie followed about a hundred years later, along with the idea that it should be made with mutton. Today, Shepherd’s Pie can be made with beef or lamb, or sometimes both, while Cottage Pie usually refers only to the beef version of the dish.

Another interesting thing about this dish is the fact that it’s prevalent in many other cultures, with some pretty amusing names, like Pâté Chinois (“Chinese Pie”, French Canada), Картофельная Запеканка (“Potato Baked Pudding”, Russia), and Escondidinho (“Hidden”, Brazil).

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