Recently in Lamb Category

I've been nagging Robin to help me make a lasagna with sheep cheese for awhile, primarily because I have an allergy to dairy, which means a "real" lasagna is simply out of the question for me. Somewhere along the way this morphed into a recipe that was something closer to the whole sheep lasagna. We substituted ground lamb in place of the normal meats you would include in a lasagna and instead of spinach we used Marche, the greens also known as lamb's lettuce. The result was an outstanding dish that stacks up nicely against any of the more traditional lasagna recipes (just because I shouldn't eat dairy doesn't mean I don't sample on occasion).

Lamb Lasagna

Whole Sheep Lasagna Recipe

Ingredients

Lasagna Noodles

Meat
2lbs ground lamb (coarse if you can get it)
1 Tbl fennel
2 Tsp red pepper flakes
Salt & Pepper to taste

Sauce
28oz can Crushed Tomatoes (San Marzano)
1/2 yellow sweet onion (diced)
5 whole cloves garlic
1 Tsp red pepper flakes
1Tsp anchovy paste
3 Tbl EVOO
Salt & Pepper to taste
1/2 cup red wine (Sangiovese / Chianti)
1/4 cup total basil, oregano, thyme
1 pint grape tomatoes

Filling
16oz cubed soft sheep milk's cheese
1 cup grated pecorino romano
3-4oz Mache (lamb's lettuce) or sub spinach
1/4 cup packed fresh basil leaves whole
2-3 cups sliced baby bella mushrooms

Procedure:

  1. Preheat oven 375
  2. Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water until almost al dente. Remove from heat and set aside in a little water and olive oil
  3. While the noodles are boiling, use a medium saute pan to brown lamb and combine with ingredients for seasoning meat. At this time you can also start your sauce by sweating your onions and garlic in medium sized sauce pan, combing the onion and garlic with olive oil, anchovy paste, red pepper flakes, and salt & pepper.
  4. Once meat is brown set aside.
  5. Finish sauce by adding wine, cook to reduce till liquid is almost gone.
  6. Add crushed tomatoes to the sauce, simmer on medium heat for 10 minutes (this is a good place to sample the wine you purchased for dinner)
  7. Prepare your filling by picking basil, cubing soft cheeses, grating pecorino romano (reserve half cup of cheese for top). Combine all filling ingredients in a medium sized bowl.
  8. Slice mushrooms
  9. Add chopped herbs and grape tomatoes to sauce. Combine meat and sauce at this point.
  10. Using the saute pan from your meat add olive oil and saute mushrooms on medium high to high. Add salt, pepper, and thyme to mushrooms. Saute till browned. Add mushrooms to bowl with filling.
  11. Prepare lasagna 9x12 baking dish so you can start making layers.
  12. Coat the bottom of dish with a layer of sauce, followed by a layer of noodles, and then a layer of filling (veggies cheese and mushrooms).
  13. Repeat layers until you get to your last row of noodles, then finish with a layer of sauce and sprinkle the reserve cheese on the top.
  14. Cover with foil and place in oven for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Remove foil, change oven setting to broil. Cook lasagna until topping is golden brown and bubbly (5 minutes max). Don't walk away at this stage or the lasagna will burn.
  15. Remove from oven, allow to rest for 5-7 minutes before serving.
  16. Serve with bread, salad, and your favorite Italian wine.

3 Sheep Cheeses The three sheep cheeses used in this recipe are pecorino romano, pecorino di pienza, and brigante pecorino pinna. The pecorino romano is an excellent cheese for grating, the other two cheeses a much better for melting.

Pistachio-Crusted Lamb Burger These are easy to prep and easy to impress. The pistachio spice rub adds lots of flavor and the aioli mellows the heat. Mint and ripe grape tomatoes make this a fresh and satisfying meal. However, I wouldn't recommend them for a "first date"... unless you consider seeing your companion with half a burger shoved into their mouth exciting.

A great wine pairing for this would be a White Burgundy, a Sauvignon Blanc, or a steel-fermented Chardonnay of some kind. Your date likes beer instead? How about a Pilsner or Hefeweizen?

Pistachio-Crusted Lamb Burgers

24 oz ground lamb (or 18oz lamb stew meat and 6 oz ground pork)
1 cup pistachios (shelled)
1 tsp fresh ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp fresh ground coriander
pinch cayenne
salt and pepper
olive oil

1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1 small sweet onion, sliced
handful of fresh mint
handful of flat leaf parsley
2 tsp raw sugar
2 lemons, zest and juice

1/4 cup mayo
1 clove garlic, minced

4 rolls (potato, brioche, or other sweet roll)

  1. combine tomatoes, onion, torn mint, torn parsley, 2 Tbl olive oil, juice of one lemon, salt, and pepper (to taste) in a medium bowl; allow to rest at room temperature
  2. mix mayo, zest of 2 lemons, juice of 1 lemon, garlic, salt, and pepper (to taste) in a small serving dish; set aside
  3. pour pistachios into a seal-top bag and smash till ground coarse (I recommend a rolling pin) or use a fancy food processor; add spices and spread out on a plate
  4. heat a 10-12" skillet on med-high heat
  5. if ground lamb is unavailable you can grind lamb stew meat in a food processor till medium-coarse, then combine with ground pork; form 4 patties, approximately 6oz each and season with salt and pepper; press into the pistachio mixture to coat
  6. add about 3 Tbl olive oil to the skillet; place burgers in pan (don't overcrowd) press and cover very loosely with a lid to avoid splatter; cook approx 5 min or till deeply browned; flip and finish 4 min (check for doneness here- medium to medium-rare is preferable for good quality lamb); remove to a paper towel to rest
  7. halve and toast rolls if desired; spread aioli on both sides, place your burger, add the salad on top, and serve with a large napkin.

Pistachio-Crusted Lamb Burger