We all know the infamous poem “Mary Had a Little Lamb” unfortunately for Mary however; this week her lamb was our delicious entrée. We made three different types of lamb including grilled chops, an awesome French technique called persille and a stuffed & roasted lamb saddle.
Before cooking the lamb, Chef Mike talked to us about what qualifies the animal to be labeled “lamb” rather than sheep or mutton. The biggest difference between a lamb and a sheep is the age. A lamb is a young sheep ranging anywhere from 6 to 8 months old at slaughter. A lamb’s average live weight is 14- to 150 pounds and it yields only about 45 pounds lean retail cuts. One of the biggest reasons for the weight drop is the amount of fat that is found on lamb. Because they aren’t very mobile and they are still so young, their fat content is much higher than you would find on many other animals. Age is also the biggest difference between mutton and lamb. Mutton are around 1 to 2 years old at slaughter.
The first lamb recipe we tackled was the lamb saddle. The lamb saddle consists of the 13th rib and the rest of the loin going towards the back leg. We deboned the saddle by removing the ribs as well as the back bone and then took our time removing most of the fat on the back of the saddle. We then removed the two loins and set them aside. Once our saddle was prepped we created a farce to stuff inside. We put a little olive oil in a sauté pan and threw in some diced onions, diced shallot, mushrooms minced and garlic minced. When everything was combined and soft we added in some chopped thyme, parsley and salt and pepper. We then removed the pan from the heat and allowed it to cool. We grated in some parmesan cheese and cracked an egg inside as well. Once combined, we added in about 5 ounces of ground pork and thoroughly mixed together. Then, with the saddle facing up we stuffed our farce into where the backbone used to be. We then made a crease in the middle of the farce and placed our two loins small ends together in the middle. Once this was completed we carefully folded our saddle together.
We then took caul fat, which is essentially the lining of a cows digestive system, and wrapped that around our saddle.
During the roasting process the caul fat acts as a baster by slowing breaking down and soaking flavor into the meat. When the meat is done cooking the caul fat is simply an extra crust that you can barely tell was ever there. Once the caul fat was in place we then began to truss the saddle until completely secure. We put it in a low temperature oven and cooked it until a thermometer place in the middle of the saddle read anywhere from 140* to 150* F. It was an amazing dish. I am really excited to be able to share this because I think it’s very unique and something not many people know how to do. Give it a try for your next dinner party, you will no doubt knock everyone’s socks off.
Our other lamb dish has officially become one of my all time favorite things in the whole entire world. I literally wanted to lick the bone clean. This is the French persille technique that we applied to our lamb chops.
Your first step is to sear you lamb chops in a pan to get some nice browning on them. Once completed you apply a thin coat of mustard to the chops. After the mustard has been applied you coat them in a grated garlic, chopped parsley, bread crumbs, salt and pepper and olive oil mixture. Throw some tin foil on the bones and place them on a roasting pan and bake. You again want to cook to a nice 130* to 140*. They were utterly unreal. Although I loved the lamb with this technique, another great thing about it, is that I can be applied to almost anything. You could use it for some boneless chicken breasts or pork chops. The flavors are delicious and the technique is so simple.