Part of what I am about is using local and home grown produce as much as I can, so recently I purchased another side of lamb from Forge Creek Lamb, and while you can select the cuts that you would like, I prefer to dress the lamb myself. You see I was raised on a sheep and grain farm about 500 km from where we now live, so am quite familiar with the various cuts of lamb, having observed and helped my mother and father dress many during my childhood and teenage years. One thing that I learnt was that there was very little waste. My mother was meticulous ensuring that all the meat was saved and frozen, even the tiniest of skerricks! Fat was rendered down and the fresh dripping was used to fry the BEST fish and chips – usually redfin fish that dad had caught, the bones were used to make stock for soups, the little bits were used to make pies, and so on. So with that memory, I set to work.
Firstly I set up my kitchen – bowls each for meat to mince, casserole meat and sausage meat set up close to where I would be dressing the meat; a baking dish for the bones; a bag for the fat (I think we’re probably a little more wary of animal fat nowadays, so mainly use olive oil and peanut oil for frying) were close by; my stand mixer was set up and the mincing attachment placed in the fridge; knives steel, hacksaw and chopping boards were layed out; an area with my vacuum seal machine was set up with various sized bags at the ready; and, finally a pile of tea towels were stacked up. Then I set to work….
So this is what happened
- The loin was boned out and tied at one inch intervals, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, and then popped in the fridge for a while, before being cut into little noisettes.
- Little cutlets were cut, their long rib bones were boned from the flap before being trimmed, and all of the excess fat was removed.
- The flap takes time as there is quite a bit of fat to be removed, and invariably you will end up with the odd hole here and there, but they are easily filled with some offcuts. When it was done, it was laid out flat on a large piece of plastic wrap and then rolled up ready for packaging and freezing. The flap is delicious filled with lamb sausage mince, rolled and wrapped in prosciutto and then cooked at low temperature for a while . It makes for a delicious hot meal with veg, but alternatively makes an amazing sliced cold meat for sandwiches or salad.
- The shank was removed from the shoulder and Frenched.
- The shoulder was partially boned out.
- The neck takes quite a bit of work, removing the ribs and cutting the meat away from the vertebrae. But it is well worth the effort with the finished product rolled and slow cooked for a delicious warming meal.
- The hind shank was removed from the leg and Frenched.
- The hind leg was totally boned out and butterflied in readiness for summer family gatherings. It will be cooked on the BBQ.
- The chump was boned out.
- Larger off-cuts were set aside for casserole and stir-fry
- Smaller off-cuts were minced
- Fattier off-cuts were minced together with seasonings to become sausage mince.
- Finally the bones were roasted and then placed into a large stock pot with water, onion, celery, carrot, bay leaves and peppercorns and left to simmer away for a few hours. After being strained and allowed to set in the fridge, the fat was removed and the stock was pressure canned in Mason jars for use at a later date.
I know it sounds like a lot of work, and I can’t lie, it is! But I have a beautiful product to work with and the most amazing childhood memories to guide me along the way. I hope that my efforts have ensured that the lamb I cook has been treated with the utmost respect – from paddock to plate!
Now with all this beautiful Forge Creek Lamb in the freezer, I have the delightful task of coming up with the best way to prepare and serve it. The first meal that I prepared with it used the little lamb noisettes. I simply pan fried them to pink and placed them on a small disk of fried potato.
To accompany these little noisettes we had steamed peas, baby broad beans and asparagus topped with roasted baby rainbow carrots. On the side I put a little roasted beetroot and goats cheese, and to finish it off, I prepared and a delicious sauce with the lamb stock, white wine and aromats. I was so happy with this plate of food, inspired by the lamb and a trip to the local farmer’s market where I purchased all the vegetables to accompany it.
Of course we had to have dessert – Tarte chantilly aux fruits rouges – a berry and cream pie with the first strawberries from our garden.
The work still continues on the corner patch, it is now fenced and has a gate. We’re still waiting for the timber to box the beds, but hopefully it will be ready next week! I have managed to get a few things planted though, including a Boysenberry.
Until next time…