Enjoy lamb as a flexible addition for your Easter dinner
NEWTON – For approximately three decades, Barb and Randy Stewart of Newton have enjoyed the fruits of their labor, especially at Easter time.
The couple owns Stewart Family Suffolk, a sheep operation that focuses on breeding stock and food purposes. They selected the Suffolk breed in particular for a few reasons.
“We like the size and the confirmation of the breed. They’re fairly easy to work with,” Barb Stewart said.
She grew up in southern Iowa on a cattle farm, but her husband’s family raised sheep on their northern Iowa farm.
Together, the Stewarts raise corn and soybeans, sheep and registered Morgan horses on a limited basis. The couple’s kids showed sheep as youth and even as adults, they’ll show in the open class at the Iowa State Fair.
“We sell a lot of breeding stock. We have rams going into commercial flocks as sires and we also retain sheep for our own purposes,” she said. “We put away at least two lambs for ourselves, sometimes more. We love the flavor of lamb. As a matter of fact, my kids always could pick their birthday meal and almost always they’d pick lamb. It’s what they grew up on.”
Stewart described lamb as incredibly versatile in the kitchen and flexible to fit any recipe.
“Lamb tends to be very flavorful. It’s leaner and very nutrient dense. My husband loves it with moussaka using pressed lamb and eggplant fresh from the garden. We have a fairly large garden where we also grow tomatoes, onions and everything,” she said. “Lamb stew is something they really enjoy in the wintertime. You can use ground lamb to replace hamburger. I have some very good casserole dishes I use ground lamb in.”
The Stewarts even grill lamb.
“It’s very versatile. I have it made into brats and I’ll serve lamb brats to individuals who don’t even realize that they’re eating lamb,” she said.
The Stewart family’s favorite lamb dish is simple but amazing, Barb Stewart said – it’s leg of lamb at Easter time.
“Fresh rosemary is great on lamb and I usually add a dash of garlic. You want to make sure you don’t overcook the lamb. You want it to be a little pink on the inside. Test it with a meat thermometer at 140-145 degrees. My kids like it with Dijon mustard. I personally like it with mint jelly. I used to make my own,” she said. “Add on a little garlic, olive oil and soy sauce with a whole sprig or two of rosemary and it’s amazing.”
Easy roast leg of lamb with
rosemary and garlic
1 5- to 6-pound boned, leg of lamb from an American, grain feed lamb
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh rosemary
1 long sprig of fresh rosemary
5 minced garlic cloves
1 teaspoon of kosher or sea salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Remove the netting from the boned leg of lamb and unroll the meat. Sprinkle 4 minced garlic cloves over the leg of lamb. Place the long sprig of fresh rosemary in the center of the unrolled lamb. Salt and pepper. Begin to roll up the leg causing the garlic and rosemary to remain in the center of the rolled roast.
Replace the netting around the leg of lamb or use butchers twine to tie the roast at intervals of every one inch. Place the roast in a v-shaped meat rack in a pan to catch the drippings. Brush the roast with olive oil and sprinkle the remaining chopped rosemary and minced garlic clove over the roast.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 to 2 hours. or until the intemal temperature registers 140 degrees for rare, and 160 for medium. Upon removing the leg from the oven, sprinkle the roast with salt. Cover and let stand for l0 minutes before slicing. Remove the netting and or butchers twine. Also remove the stalk of fresh rosemary that was incorporated in the rolled leg of lamb.
When using this recipe on a Weber or outside grill, it is often difficult to regulate the temperature during the cooking process. It is therefore even more important to use a meat thermometer to determine the degree of cooking. I also put some apple juice or just plain water in the pan that catches the meat drippings, to prevent the drippings from buming and causing smoke in the cooking chamber.
1 1/2 pounds boneless lamb cut into 1-inch cubes
1 clove garlic, minced
4 medium carrots, cut in 2-inch lengths
6 tiny onions
3 small potatoes, pared and cubed
1/2 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
1 10-ounce package of frozen peas
2 tablespoons snipped parsley
Coat meat with flour. In large saucepan, brown meat in a small amount of hot shortening. Add 3 cups water, garlic, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cover; simmer 1 hour or until meat is almost tender. Add carrots, onions, potatoes and basil; cook uncovered for 20 minutes or until done. Add peas and parsley. Cook five minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 6.
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