Barbreck LambBarbreck spring lambs are born off Llewyn/Texel ewes crossed with Texel tups to pruduce a meatier, tastier lamb with a lower fat to muscle ratio. They are reared naturally on their mothers' milk and fresh green pasture, until they reach an average live weight of about 40kg.
The lambs are then transported direct from the farm to the abattoir in Dunblane, where they are humanely killed and hung for five days to ensure maximum flavour and tenderness, (supermarkets do not hang their meat at all). The carcasses are transported back to Barbreck and hung for a further week before being butchered and vacuum packed ready for sale.
You can be confident that the lamb you are about to eat is a totally healthy and nutritious product.
'I have never been able to understand the reasoning that if you don't like the way meat is reared or killed you turn vegetarian. Surely you should stand up and fight for changes and support the organic trade rather than risk your life with a paraquat-fed Third World carrot.'
Clarissa Dickson-Wright, Two Fat Ladies Full Throttle
'Not for me the dinky noisettes of lamb with a puddle of sticky sauce made from reduced stock and garnished with fanned, lightly cooked vegetables and a couple of asparagus spears. Lamb, more than any other meat, demands to be eaten in robust fashion. A chop, grilled till its fat crisps and its bones turn brittle, rich, juicy pink inside, and preferably held in the hand, is the way to eat this naturally free-range meat.'
Nigel Slater, The 30-minute Cook
Now that you know how your lamb has been produced, you should be straining at the leash to get it cooked. For those of you who are not used to cooking fresh farm grown meat, here are a few suggestions from a retired farmers wife, used to cooking for lots of hungry workers whilst having an array of other jobs to do
The taste of lamb is so excellent in itself, that the roasting joints need no added flavours. Simply rub a little salt over the skin of a leg or shoulder and bung it in a moderate to hot oven (average timing 20 minutes to the pound and 20 minutes extra) until it is cooked as you like it. Two additions if liked could be a few slivers of garlic pushed under the skin, or a sprig of fresh rosemary placed underneath – both before cooking of course!
An alternative (and great for getting the best gravy – but you don't get crunchy fat) is to pot roast the joints; and for this method you can include rolled joints, such as shoulder. All you do is brown the meat on all sides in some good oil, such as sunflower, in a suitable saucepan, and when all sizzly and brown, add enough water to cover the base of the pan. Jam on the pot lid, and when the water is boiling, turn the heat down, and leave to cook, poking occasionally.You must keep an ear open, because if you hear frying noises from within the pan, it means the water has all evaporated and you must add more. This method is slowish, but the wonderful juices left in the pan, in addition to the resulting tenderness of the meat, are worth the anxiety of listening for warning noises.Again, you can flavour the lamb with herbs of your choice and seasoning – but be careful the water doesn't run out on you, because burnt herbs do NOT improve the dish!
There are three types of 'chop' on a lamb. From the leg are the chump or gigot chops – really more of a steak. The best known are loin chops (two together making a barnsley chop) for which the
supermarket charges an iniquitous price! These are all great for grilling or roasting
Those with a dinner party in the offing can leave the loin intact and roast it as a joint, as indeed they can do with the saddle (the loin chops on both sides of, and including, the backbone).This is not an economical way of serving lamb, but a wonderful treat for the lucky eater.
And now we come to the 'knees and elbows' – those pieces of meat which you never find in the butcher's shop or on the supermarket shelf – but which can produce the most scrumptious dishes and soups at very little cost. These are the shanks (the equivalent of our forearms and calves), the ribs (flank), and the neck (or scrag end in England).
'Kleftiko' – or 'Stolen' in Greek was invented by Greek Cypriot guerillas when hiding out in the hills inventing ways of harrying the Turks. This is made with the shank of the thieved lamb, and is virtually the same as pot roasting – only they used a lidded clay pot, the lid sealed with more clay, and cooked it in burning fire embers, flavoured with wild oregano until the meat fell from the bone.
For the chunks of rib, which contain lots of good meat, a good idea is to boil them in water (with or without vegetables or herbs) to make delicious soup stock. When removed from the stock and cooled, they can be sprinkled with salt and roast in a hot oven until crunchy and golden, and then eaten with mashed tatties, or even better, with haggis and mashed tatties. Good for a hungry farmer!
The actual neck is delicious when sliced (you need a sharp knife or cleaver, courage and sticking plasters for this), and after browning in oil, braised slowly with lots of onions and other vegetables.
Don't forget the other (and most nutritious) things which make up your lamb. Namely the liver, heart and kidneys, which sometimes are available in the supermarket, outrageously overpriced There are many excellent recipes for these – lamb's liver and bacon (yum yum), stuffed hearts, and kidneys with rice and red wine - to name just a few.
SOME GENERAL TIPS
When roasting a joint, always let it rest outside the oven for 10 – 15 minutes before serving (i.e. when dishing up or making gravy). This allows the moisture in the meat to permeate all through, and makes for easier carving.
Everyone's oven, though telling the same temperature, is slightly different, so if you think the juices in the tin are drying up, or browning and sticking, before the meat is cooked as you like it, either add a little water to the pan, or turn the heat down a bit more and cover with foil.
Don't be nervous. Lamb is a very accommodating meat, and is equally good served slightly pink in the middle, or well cooked and crunchy on the outside.
As a general rule, a leg or shoulder will serve 4-6 people (unless you are terribly greedy), chops at two per person, and the cheaper cuts as many as you like, because you can add more vegetables/beans/tatties to the pot as required.
A FEW RECIPE SUGGESTIONS
THE LEG (OR GIGOT)
SIMPLE ROAST LAMB (Keith Floyd, A Feast of Floyd)
2 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary or
1 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
2 oz (50 g) butter, melted
4 ½ lb (2 kg) leg of young lamb
Mix the salt, pepper and rosemary with the butter and use this to coat the meat as evenly as possible all over. Place the lamb in a shallow roasting tin and sear in a preheated oven, 450F/230C (gas 8), for 20 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 350F/180C (gas 4) and roast for a further 40-60 minutes, or until the lamb is cooked to your taste.
MINTED LEG OF LAMB (Ranse Leembruggen, Easy Eastern Cooking)
5 lb (2.25 kg) leg of lamb
3 oz (75 g) mint leaves
½ teaspoon ground ginger
3 cloves garlic, crushed
12 oz (350 g) onions, diced
2 oz (50 g) green pepper, diced
1 ½ teaspoon salt
¼ pint (150 ml) honey
Juice of 1 lemon
4 oz butter
Remove as much fat as possible from the leg of lamb and make sure the skin has been pulled off. Cut deep incisions into the meat, right down to the bone, at regular intervals. Place in a deep baking tray. Put all other ingredients into a blender and liquidize. Cover the meat with the purée, making sure you work the liquid into the incisions. Cover with foil and bake in a preheated oven (200C/350F, gas 4) for a further 1 ½ hours, or until the lamb is cooked, basting at regular intervals. Carve into slices and serve with rice and salad.
ROAST SHOULDER OF LAMB (Janet Warren, a Feast of Scotland)
1 shoulder of lamb on the bone
2 tablespoons dripping or oil
1 clove garlic
Wipe joint then rub the surface with a cut clove of garlic and sprinkle with salt. Melt dripping or oil in a tin, add the joint and cook at 400F/200C (gas 6) for the first 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350F/180C (gas 4) for the rest of cooking time (approx. 20 mins/lb), basting meat about twice. When cooked lift onto a dish and rest for 15 minutes (this makes it easier to carve). Serve with gravy (see below), and mint sauce or redcurrant jelly.
WONDERFUL GRAVY FOR LAMB (an old farmer's widow)
The juices left in roasting tin after meat removed
1-2 tablespoons flour (depending on quantity of liquid)
Water saved from cooking vegetables
Salt and pepper
Drain off most of the fat from the meat juice, using a tablespoon. Add flour to pan, and stir over moderate heat until lumps removed and turning brown. Add vegetable water and stir constantly until gravy is smooth and slightly thickened. Continue to cook until bubbling and rich looking. Season with salt and pepper and serve poured over meat and/or vegetables.
STUFFED SHOULDER OF LAMB (Mary Norwak, The Farmouse Kitchen)
1 shoulder of lamb, boned
2 onions, skinned and chopped
2 oz butter
Rosemary or parsley to taste
Stuff meat with onions and rosemary or parsley. Roll up and tie well with string. Put in tin, brush melted butter over joint. Roast at 350F/180C (gas 4) for twenty-five minutes per pound and twenty-five minutes over. Remove string, and serve in thick slices, with mashed potatoes and fresh vegetables.
TO FRY AND GRILL LAMB CHOPS (Marguerite Patten)
Choose loin or barnsley chops
To fry: If chops are very lean, pour a little oil into pan and heat. Add chops and fry steadily rather than too quickly to give a good crispness to outside fat.
To grill: Have the grill hot to begin with. Brown meat on either side. Lower heat to moderate so that meat can cook through to centre. Serve chops with grilled or fried tomatoes, mushrooms, and a buttery baked potato.
LANCASHIRE HOTPOT (Marguerite Patten)
12 oz – 1 lb lean meat from chump (upper
part of leg)
2 large onions
1 lb potatoes
Hot water or stock
Salt and pepper
1 oz butter or margarine
Cut meat into neat pieces. Peel and slice potatoes and onions (about ¼ in. thick). Fill a casserole with alternate layers of meat, onions and potato, seasoning each layer and ending with a layer of potato. Half fill dish with water. Dot top with butter and put on lid (or foil). Bake in coolest part of oven for about 2 hours at 350F/180C (gas 4). Take lid off for last 20 minutes to brown top. Garnish with parsley.
BRAISED LAMB SHANKS WITH BUTTER BEANS (Christopher Trotter, Scottish Cookery)
4 lamb shanks
2 tablesps. Olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and diced
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
1 large leek, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed with salt
12 oz (350g) butter beans, soaked overnight, or 1 large tin
2 large tins chopped tomatoes
1 tablsp. Tomato purée
1 bay leaf
Peel and cut the onion, carrot and leek into ¼ in. dice. Heat oven to 450F/230C (gas 8). Season lamb shanks and smother them in the olive oil, roast in the hot oven for about 10 minutes until well coloured. Turn oven down to 375F/190C (gas 5) and continue to cook for about 2 hours. Half an hour before the end add the diced vegetables, stir them in to collect some of the juices. After the 2 hours, remove the lamb shanks and set them aside. Add the garlic to the pan and stir in, then add the drained butter beans, the tomatoes, plus 2 tins water, using one of the tomato tins, the tomato purée and bay leaf. Bring to the boil and then return the lamb to the pan, ensuring it is well covered by bean mixture. Cook for another 30 mins in the oven. The lamb should be falling off the bone and the beans soft.
KLEFTIKO (ROBBERS' LAMB) (Jane Grigson, Dishes from the Mediterranean)
8 lamb shanks
1 lemon, quartered
2 teasps (5 ml) each salt and dried oregano, mixed
1 large onion, sliced thinly
3 bay leaves (optional)
¼ pint (150 ml) dry white wine or water
8 oz (225g) plain flour
Heat the oven to 150C (gas mark 2). Turn the flanks in the salt and oregano mixture. Place these, plus any remaining salt and oregano, into a casserole dish with a tight fitting lid. Add pepper, onion, bay leaves and the liquid. Cover dish with foil and press lid on tightly.
Cook in the oven for 2-2 ½ hours. After about 45 minutes open oven door and listen. If liquid is bubbling energetically, lower temperature until it murmurs. When meat is done it should fall off the bone. Serve using the cooking liquid as a sauce. Noodles, macaroni and small deep-fried potatoes go well with Kleftiko.
Another good idea for shanks, recommended by one of our loyal local customers, is to stuff the shanks into a casserole dish, top with sliced red onions, lots of red wine, and cook for ever!