Lamb is one of those things I love to eat, but I try not to think too hard about the “Mary Had a Little Lamb” aspect of it.
I was pleasantly surprised to find fresh lamb at the market this week. Our Family Farm has joined the Red Stick Farmers Market in Baton Rouge. You also can find lamb from Bayou Farm in Ville Platte, among others located farther north in the state, and later this year, Iverstine Family Farms in Kentwood will offer lamb and more when it opens its butcher shop.
For the most juicy, tender lamb, serve it grilled, broiled or roasted and slightly pink in color. Lamb is done at the optimum internal temperature of 140 F. Cooked longer, it will be tough and dry and take on a gamey flavor more like mutton, the meat of an older sheep. Take care to trim the fat down to no more than a quarter-inch on roasts and chops.
Cumin, chilies, rosemary, mint, oregano and feta cheese perfectly complement the distinctive flavor of lamb. You also can find lots of local, seasonal flavors at markets that work well with lamb. Sweet blackberries or blueberries with a splash of lemon brighten up lamb, and it’s delicious with ripe cherry tomatoes or crunchy cucumbers mixed in a yogurt sauce.
I enjoyed playing with these flavor combinations to cook up a decidedly local but not-too-outlandish dish for the lamb lovers in my house.
Teresa B. Day is a local food writer and author of the “I Eat BR” blog. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.