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Recipe Friday: Fall for Lamb

While beef, pork and chicken are the most common protein choices, lamb is growing in popularity. Today’s diners are sophisticated, traveled, and adventurous. They are seeking authentic global dishes, and lamb is one of the most consumed meats around the globe—from curries to kebabs to stews.

Check out these hearty lamb recipes from the American Lamb Board.

Photo courtesy American Lamb Board

American Lamb Meatballs in Fragrant Indian Curry Sauce

Yield: 4


1 lb ground American Lamb
¾ cup grated paneer cheese (optional)
2/3 up chopped fresh mint, divided, plus more for garnish
¼ cup dry bread crumbs
1 ea. large egg
2 T minced garlic, divided
1 T minced ginger, divided
2 ½ tsp kosher salt, divided
2 T butter
1 ea. large yellow onion, thinly sliced
¼ cup tomato paste
½ tsp medium chile powder, such as Indian Kashmiri or New Mexican
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp cumin
1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, with juices


  1. In a large bowl, mix together the lamb, paneer, half of the mint, bread crumbs, egg, 1 tablespoon garlic, ginger, 2 teaspoons garam masala and 1 teaspoon salt.  Roll the mixture into 16 meatballs; arrange meatballs on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil.  Broil the meatballs about 4 inches from the heating element, turning occasionally, until nicely browned on all sides, about 10 minutes.
  2. In a large heavy pot, heat the butter over medium heat.  Add onion, tomato paste and chili powder; cook, stirring often, until tomato paste has darkened and onion is soft, 6 to 8 minutes.  Add remaining garlic, turmeric and cumin; cook, stirring often, until the bottom of the pot begins to brown, about 4 minutes.  Add tomatoes and 1-½ teaspoons salt; stir to scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pot.  Add the meatballs; bring to a simmer.  Cook at a gentle simmer until sauce the thickens, 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Stir in remaining mint and garam masala. Serve the meatballs and sauce over rice with mint and almonds to garnish.

Photo courtesy American Lamb Board

Autumnal American Lamb Stew with Red Kuri Squash and Almonds

Recipe courtesy Chef Heidi Krahling (Insalta Restaurant, San Anselmo, Calif.)

Yield: 12

Ingredients for Squash

1 ½ lbs red kuri or butternut squash, halved and seeded
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 T butter

Ingrredients for Spice Mixture

2 T ground coriander 
2 T cumin
1 T salt
1 T ground ginger
2 tsp curry powder
2 tsp pepper
1 tsp ground cardamom 
1 ea. cinnamon stick, ground
Pinch of saffron


5 lbs American Lamb shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
2 ½ qrts chicken stock
½ cup butter
3 ea. medium onions, diced
3 ea. garlic cloves, minced
3 T tomato paste
1 cup garbanzo beans, cooked
½ cup golden raisins
2 T honey 
½ cup toasted almonds, sliced
¼ cup cilantro leaves, chopped


  1. Season squash with salt and pepper.  Place in roasting pan, cut side down.  Add butter and ½ cup water to pan.  Cover tightly and bake at 350°F for 40 to 50 minutes or until tender but firm.  Cool, peel and cut into 1-inch cubes; reserve.
  2. Combine spices and divide into two portions.  Toss meat cubes with one-half of the spice mixture.  Let stand for 30 minutes.  In heavy saucepot, add seasoned lamb and enough stock to cover.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 1 hour, skim occasionally.  Once lamb is tender, strain and reserve liquid.
  3. Melt butter in skillet.  Add onions and sauté over low heat until translucent. Stir in remaining spice mix, tomato paste and garlic; cook 3 to 5 minutes until aromatic.  Add beans, raisins and honey; sauté for 4 minutes, allowing flavors to blend.
  4. Add meat to onion mixture.  Add reserved liquid.  Cook to heat through.
  5. To serve:  Spoon stew into bowls and garnish with almonds and cilantro.  If desired, serve with couscous or buttered egg noodles.

Photo courtesy American Lamb Board

Basque Piperade with Braised American Lamb Shoulder

Recipe courtesy Chef Jenna Johansen (Denver)

Yield: 50


5 lbs braised American Lamb shoulder, shredded
1 ½ gal yellow onions, julienned
3 qrts red bell peppers, julienned and seeded
3 qrts green bell peppers, julienned and seeded
6 T fresh garlic, minced
6 cups white wine
2-8 cups vegtetable stock
3 cans peeled roma tomatoes
6 ea. bay leaves
3 T Piment d'Espelette (or hot paprika)


  1. In a large pot over medium heat, sauté onion until translucent, about 10 minutes.  Add bell peppers, Poblano peppers and garlic; sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.  Deglaze with white wine; add vegetable stock if necessary to keep from burning.  Continue to cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add tomatoes, bay leaves and piment d’Espelette; stir and cook over medium low heat until flavors are well combined and piperade has thickened, about 1 hour.
  2. Combine piperade and shredded lamb.  Heat to 165°F.  Serve hot with grilled bread or over rice, potatoes or polenta.

Photo courtesy American Lamb Board

Braised Lamb Shoulder with Goat Cheese Gnocchi, Preserved Pumpkin an Pomegranate

Recipe courtesy Chef Holly Smith (Cafe Juanita, Seattle)

Yield: 4-6


2 ½ lbs American Lamb shoulder, cut into 4 pieces
Koshr salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 ea. medium yellow onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
2 ea. carrots, peeled, cut into 1/4-inch dice
4 ea. cloves garlic, finely minced
½ cup dry red wine
4 cups chicken stock
¼ cup canned tomatoes
2 ea. sprigs fresh thyme
1 ea. sprig fresh rosemary
2 T sherry vinegar, divided


  1. Pat lamb dry with paper towels; season all over with salt and pepper.  Set aside.
  2. In a large braising pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add oil.  When oil is hot, add seasoned lamb pieces; sear until nicely caramelized on all sides, about 2 minutes per side.  Remove lamb pieces to a plate; add onion and carrots to the pan.  Cook and stir until tender, 3 to 4 minutes; add garlic, stirring constantly to prevent burning.
  3. Deglaze the pan with wine, stirring to scrape any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Add stock and tomatoes; stir well before returning the lamb and any juices back to the pan.  The liquid should cover the lamb pieces almost completely.  Add thyme and rosemary; remove from heat and tightly cover the pan with foil or an ovenproof lid.
  4. Place the pan in the oven.  Cook for 2 hours at 280°F or until meat is so tender that it is falling apart.
  5. Remove pan from oven; allow to cool 30 minutes.  Remove the lamb from the braising liquid with a slotted spoon; put lamb pieces on a plate or in a large bowl.  Remove herb sprigs; discard.  Return pan and braising liquid to the stove; add 1 tablespoon of vinegar.
  6. Braised Lamb Shoulder with Goat Cheese GReduce liquid over medium-high heat until it has a saucy consistency, 10 to 15 minutes.
  7. Lower heat to medium; add lamb pieces back to the pan with any juices.  Continue to reduce braising liquid while gently breaking apart the lamb pieces using a wooden spoon.  Season to taste with remaining vinegar, salt and pepper if needed.

Ingredients for Gnocchi

1 lb slightly soft fresh goat cheese
1 ea. small egg
1 heaping T kosher salt
¾ cup all-purpose flour, plus additional for rolling gnocchi


  1. In a large bowl, combine cheese and egg.  Add salt; mix until smooth with a rubber spatula.  Add 1/2 cup flour; combine well.  Add remaining flour; mix gently but thoroughly until a dough forms.  Do not over mix the dough or the gnocchi will be heavy.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap; chill up to 1 hour.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to boil and season generously with salt.  Boiling the gnocchi in well-seasoned water ensures that they will have as much flavor as possible.
  3. Fit a pastry bag with a 3/4-inch tip; fill it with the dough.  With water boiling, hold bag with one hand and a small sharp knife with the other.  Squeeze the bag and twist, cutting the dough at 1-inch intervals as it comes out of the bag.
  4. Alternately, to hand roll and cut the gnocchi, lightly flour a baking sheet or large platter and set aside.  Dust a clean, dry work surface lightly with flour and divide the gnocchi dough into 6 equal pieces.  Roll each piece until it resembles a log with a 1/2-inch diameter.  Use a floured bench scraper or a sharp knife to cut the logs into 1/2-inch dumplings and place them on the baking sheet or platter.  Repeat until each log is cut into pieces.
  5. Boil 15 to 20 dumplings in each round.  When the dumplings float, give them a few more seconds before removing them from the water with a slotted spoon onto a baking sheet; this allows them to cool quickly.  They will be delicate while warm but will become more durable as they cool.  Continue to boil the dumplings in batches. The cooked gnocchi will keep in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

Ingredients for Gnocchi Sauce

4 T unsalted butter, cold, divided
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 ea. clove garlic, finely minced
¾ cup dry vermouth
½ cup chicken stock
Kosher salt, to taste
Ccayenne pepper, to taste
1 T fresh marjoram, picked, roughly chopped
Zest of one lemon, chopped


  1. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of butter and oil.  When the butter has melted and is foamy, add the shallots and garlic; cook, stirring constantly, for 2 to 3 minutes or until the ingredients are translucent but not yet brown.
  2. Deglaze the pan with vermouth; reduce the amount of liquid by half.  Add the stock; bring to a simmer.  Reduce the liquid by half again; add remaining butter, and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Continue to cook for several minutes until the sauce thickens slightly. Remove from heat; add marjoram and lemon zest; season to taste with additional salt and cayenne as desired.

Ingredients for Pumpkin

1 ea. small sugar pie pumpkin
2 cups sugar
1 ea. cinnamon stick
2 cups water


  1. Using a vegetable peeler or a small, sharp paring knife, peel the pumpkin, cut it in half and scoop out the seeds.  Discard or reserve for toasting.  Cut the pumpkin halves into 2-inch cubes.
  2. In a heavy-bottomed pan, combine sugar, cinnamon stick and water.  Bring the liquid to a simmer and stir until sugar dissolves.  Add pumpkin cubes; simmer over very low heat until they begin to become tender, 30 to 40 minutes.  Allow the pumpkin to cool in the syrup before refrigerating.

To Serve

Add the cooked gnocchi to the large sauté pan with the sauce; toss to coat with the sauce.  Add the braised lamb to the pan; toss again.  Remove the contents to a large platter, or divide between plates.  Garnish each plate with wisps of preserved pumpkin created by shaving the chunks with a vegetable peeler, and a scattering of pomegranate seeds if desired.


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