I should say that most of the sheep ranchers I know gravitate towards the lower priced cuts of lamb. That's not to say we don't enjoy a good rack of lamb or loin chop when we have the chance; rather, I suspect that most of us would rather sell these expensive cuts - or save them for special occasions.
Here are the recipes they shared!
Ryan Indart, President
Ryan and his family farm and ranch in Fresno County. I've always wanted a recipe for Basque beans - can't wait to try this one! He says its a combination of recipes from Wool Growers Basque Restaurant in Bakersfield and Louie's Basque Corner in Reno - two of my favorite places to eat!
1-1/2 bags dried kidney and pinto beans
1/3 cup bacon or salt pork
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
8 oz can tomato sauce
1/2 tsp dried thyme/oregano/basil
pinch red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
3 cups water or beer/wine mixture
2 cups beef stock
3/4 lbs boneless pork (cubed)
3/4 lbs ham steak w/ bone
1 bay leaf
1/2 lb Spanish or Mexican chorizo or linguisa
Lamb stew meat
Soak beans overnight or do a quick soak (google it!). Rinse beans and return to pot. Add enough water to cover 3/4 inches. Bring to a boil over high and then reduce to a simmer for 2 hours. While beans are cooking, cook boneless pork, bacon, lamb stew meat, and chorizo for a few minutes (don't cook all the way) along with onions and garlic - use white wine and butter. After the beans have cooked 1 hour, stir in the meat/garlic/onion mix, along with tomato sauce, thyme/oregano/basil, pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Cook for one more hour and let rest. Eat the next day.
Sheep Camp Stew
Ryan says he makes this recipe during lambing season.
Lamb Shanks or Ribs
Ryan says this is one of his favorite recipes!
Ed Anchordoguy, Secretary/Treasurer
Ed raises sheep in Sonoma County - and he's the money guy for our association! He sent the following recipes:
"Two very simple ones which you probably know. Leg of Lamb- Cut Rosemary into small sprigs and skin gloves of garlic. Make holes in leg with a knife and stuff both a sprig of Rosemary and a clove of garlic into each hole. Make holes all over both sides of leg. Put salt and pepper on the outside of leg if you want and either bbq or put in oven. Lamb Chops- Chop up rosemary and garlic gloves in a Mezzaluna wood bowl with Mezzaluna knife until you dice it all into almost a paste. You can also create the same paste in a blender or food processor. You can add salt and pepper if you want. Put the mash on thick on one side of the lamb chop (loin is best of course, lamb steaks work well also), the side with paste up on the bbq. If you are putting them in oven you can do both sides. You just don’t want it to burn much, just crispy. There is a small company in Clovis called The Basque Co. They make a Meat Tenderizer- BBQ Sauce which is excellent to marinate any cut of lamb. I have been using it for years. You can buy it in most major grocery stores. You can also order it directly from the source and have it shipped to you. They also make a great Seafood Marinade." [Note: We've used this marinade for years - it's our favorite for just about every kind of meat!]
Ed also forwarded this recipe - he says that once his friends have tried it, they always ask for it again!
Frankie Itturia, Immediate Past President
Frankie and his family graze sheep in the Bakersfield area and along the east side of the Sierra. He preceded Ryan as CWGA President. Frankie's dad, Paco, was CWGA President when I worked for the California Cattlemen's Association more than 20 years ago (which, as I like to remind my cattleman friends, is the second oldest livestock organization in the state!). Frankie shared a number of great recipes from the Bo-Peep cookbook put out in Kern County several years ago!
I think I'll need to acquire one of those cookbooks!
Finally, I'll share one of my family's favorite recipes. As the only non-Basque member of our current officer team - and as the only Scotch-Irish-German (and other various ethnicities) officer, I thought I'd share a decidedly non-Basque recipe! My family usually has this on Christmas Eve.
(Adapted from the Fannie Farmer cookbook)
3 lbs lamb breast or neck slices
8 cups cold water
1/2 cup barley
3 TBS butter
2 carrots, diced fine
2 stalks celery, diced fine
2 small white turnips or rutabagas, peeled and diced
1 medium onion, diced fine
Freshly ground pepper
Remove most of the fat from the meat and cut into small pieces. Put it in a pot with the cold water. Bring to a boil and stir in the barley. Simmer, partially covered, for 1-1/2 hours, or until the meat and barley are tender, adding more water if any evaporates. Remove the meat from the bones. Cool the soup and skim off the fat. Melt the butter in a skillet and add the carrots, celery, turnip (or rutabaga), and onion. Cook over low heat, stirring often, for 10 minutes. Add to the soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and cook for another 10 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Serve piping hot.
What's your favorite lamb recipe!? I challenge all of my fellow sheep producers (foreign and domestic!) to share a recipe in the comments section! Let's have some fun with this!