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  • Writer's pictureTommy Centola

Focusing on cooking with lamb

Produce is not the only product you can find at the Searcy Farmers’ Market. Among the items you can find are various sweets, jellies, meats, soaps, flowers, and other crafts. The ingredients I want to focus on today is one of my favorite proteins, lamb.

You can find lamb a few different ways at the market. Two popular cuts of lamb are used in the following recipes: Lamb Chops, which are cut from a Rack of Lamb and Lamb Shanks. The lamb rack is usually roasted, while the chops are often grilled. Lamb shanks are cooked over a long period of time, often braised or roasted.

Here is a take on Blackened Redfish. The flavor of the blackening seasoning works well with non-seafood meats, especially lamb. This bronzing method adds tremendous flavor to lamb.

Bronzed Lamb Chops

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon blackened seasoning

8 (2-3 oz) lamb loin chops, about 1 inch thick, well chilled

Place a heavy nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot, about 7 minutes

As soon as the skillet is hot, lightly coat one side of each chop with oil, then sprinkle each oiled side evenly with 1/2 teaspoon of blackening seasoning. Place chops in the skillet seasoned side down and sprinkle the top sides of all the chops evenly with the remaining seasoning.

Cook about 3 minutes. Turn the chops and, if the chops are extra lean, pour about 1/2 teaspoon olive oil on top of each. For medium rare, cook the chops 3 minutes more. ( For medium, cook 4 minutes per side.) Remove chops and place on a serving platter. Don’t stack the chops. Wipe the skillet clean and cook the remaining chops.

This is my take on the Italian dish Osso Buco. Traditionally, Osso Buco is made with veal shanks. I have eaten it made with beef and pork. I thought why no lamb. I did change up the seasonings to highlight the lamb flavor.

Spicy Lamb Shanks

4 lamb shanks

Salt, pepper, flour

1 cup water

1 cup cooked prunes, pitted

1 cup cooked apricots, diced

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon cloves

3 tablespoons vinegar

1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350℉.

Season meat with salt and pepper, dredge in flour, and place in a greased baking dish. Cover and bake until meat is tender, 1 3/4 to 2 hours.

Combine remainder of ingredients, heat to boiling, and simmer about 5 minutes. Drain most of fat from cooked shanks, add fruit mixture to meat, cover dish, and bake in a hot oven (400℉.) about 30 minutes.

The first time I saw and tasted rack of lamb was at LeRuth’s restaurant in New Orleans. This recipe is based on the one found in LeRuth’s Front Door/Back Door cookbook. This version was often served as the staff meal before service.

Lamb Rack Herbs de Provence Amandine

2 racks of young lamb

1/4 cup salad oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons Herbs de Provence

1 stick butter

2 Tablespoons good white wine

1 cup sliced blanched almonds (toasted)

2 tablespoons parsley, chopped for garnish

Preheat oven to 475℉.

Remove most of the fat from lamb. Brush racks with oil and season with salt, pepper and herbs. Roast in oven for 30 minutes, bone side down. Lamb will be pink. Remove lamb and keep warm. Skim off all excess fat. Place pan over medium heat. Melt butter; add wine and stir to scrape drippings that are on pan. Place racks on serving platter and top with almonds. Pour sauce over racks and sprinkle with parsley.

If you enjoy lamb like I do, these recipes are sure to please. Next week, I will get back to my New Orleans roots. I will feature a product found on a muffuletta sandwich, Olive Salad. Wait until you see the ways it gets used.

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