With fall weather starting to settle in, my mind naturally drifts to hearty roasts, soups, and stews. I’m a big fan of the slow cooker for this job, as the meal practically cooks itself once you’ve added the ingredients. Searing off the meat before you add it is an extra step that’s well worth the time because it helps to develop an extra layer of delicious flavor.
I got my lamb roast from 5280 Meat, a family-owned Colorado company that raises grass-fed, pastured animals. Normally, I’m not a fan of how lamb can be gamey, but this roast was mild and fall-apart tender. If you order from 5280 Meat, use the code “SEPaleo” when you check out and receive 10% off!
First, you’re going to sear the lamb roast to develop a nice golden crust. That’s where the flavor really shines. To do that, dry the lamb very well with paper towel and season with a couple generous pinches of salt and pepper. Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat, then add the ghee. You want the pan smoking hot. If not, the meat will steam instead of sear. Try for 3 to 4 minutes a side until you get most of the roast seared. Remove the meat from the pan (I put it on a plate), then reduce the heat to medium, and add the chicken broth, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.
Place the roast in the slow cooker.
In a small bowl, mix the garlic, rosemary, thyme and mustard. Pour it on top of the lamb and use your hands to coat the meat with the mixture.
Toss the chopped root veggies (carrots, parsnips, potato and rutabaga) with salt and pepper, and arrange them around the meat. Pour the chicken broth from when you deglazed the pan on top of the veggies.
Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.
Serve with a green salad or veggie of your choice for a complete meal.
*substitute with sweet potatoes if you do not eat white potatoes
The other day, I was really craving a Greek salad (score for salad cravings, right?!). I had all the veggie components in the fridge, but I definitely wanted to top it with something meaty, so I came up with a quick batch of lamb burgers. In the end, I wound up making them more like sliders – smaller than a burger – and served them with my salad, some Paleo Tzatziki Sauce, and a squeeze of lemon.
Lamb a bit strong for your palate? Try mixing it with half beef to make the flavor milder. My Greek salad was a combo of tomato, cucumber, sweet onion and olives, drizzled with Kasandrinos olive oil.
Prep time: 5 min Cook time: 15 min Makes: 6-8 sliders (1 lb. of meat)
Mix the ingredients gently in a large bowl until well combined. Overworking the meat will cause it to be tough.
Shape the meat into burgers however large you’d like. I made 8 small sliders. Don’t pack the meat in too tightly or the burger will be dense.
Grill or fry in a pan over medium-high heat until cooked through, 4-5 minutes per side. If preparing in a pan, I like to quickly sear both sides then throw the burgers in a 350F oven for ~10 minutes to finish cooking through.
Recently, I ate dinner at a restaurant that served Azerbaijani ground lamb on a skewer, and the taste exploded on my tongue. If you need a geography refresher, Azerbaijan is just to the east of Armenia (which is just to the east of Turkey). The meat was perfectly flavored and tender and let’s be honest…any kind of food on a stick is just more fun than the rest. I found myself on a mission to make something similar and ended up with a mashup of kofta – basically seasoned ground meat usually shaped into meatballs – and kebab.
I polled my Facebook readers (if you haven’t, go like my page now because I post up content that doesn’t make it onto my website…unashamed self-promotion!) to see if they’d prefer lamb or beef in a recipe (this one) – and a majority said beef. Kofta can come in many variations with different ground meats, so I decided to make mine with a mixture of lamb and beef. To be honest, ground lamb straight up is too strong for my tastebuds! If you wanted, you could do all beef, all lamb or something else.
If you don’t have skewers, you could make these into meatballs or even burger patties. Let your creativity and your tastebuds be your guide…no need to be fussy! I served mine with two dipping sauces – a Paleo version of an Indian raita and a lemony herb sauce. Both were super damn tasty but are in no way mandatory.
Prep time: 20 min Cook time: 15-20 min Makes: ~12
Ingredients for Lamb Kofta (Meat on a Stick)
1-1/2 lb ground lamb (I used half lamb / half beef)
My buddy Trish arrived to my house a few weeks ago with two choice looking racks of lamb…the deal was that if she brought the meat, I’d do the cooking (I love that kind of dinner!). The marinade / sauce was the key to these little guys tasting so damn good, and the grilling couldn’t have been much easier. Mix sauce. Apply. Grill meat. Eat. You all know by this point that I like it uncomplicated and simple. One key consideration though, is to get the best meat you possibly can because it’s definitely the star of the show. Don’t cheap out. Additionally, can we all agree to stop cooking meat until it’s obliterated and all the tastiness is gone?! I served these racks / chops medium-rare, the meat tender and juicy. Okay, on with the show!
2 racks of lamb
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 Tbsp brown / Dijon mustard (check the label for weird ingredients)
1. Let the meat sit out at room temperature for about 30 minutes prior to cooking.
2. Combine the garlic, mustard, olive oil, rosemary, lemon juice and lemon zest in a small bowl.
3. Sprinkle the lamb evenly with salt and pepper. Coat the meat with most of the mustard sauce and reserve some for basting during grilling.
4. Preheat the grill to a medium setting.
5. Place racks of lamb on the grill but not over direct heat. Allow to cook for 7-10 minutes per side and turn once during cooking. Baste with reserved mustard sauce. [N0te #1: if you want to develop a nice crust and grill marks, resist the urge to keep flipping the meat over constantly during cooking. I know. Just flip once and step away. You can do it :)]
6. Remove the meat and allow to rest for 10 minutes prior to slicing. [Note #2: If you want tasty lamb, you’ve got to let it sit for 5-10 minutes before you hack into it or else the juices end up on your plate underneath a pile of dry meat. Go gnaw on a handful of macadamia nuts if you are too hungry to wait.]
7. For medium-rare, I grilled the lamb about 7 minutes per side. Your grill may vary.
Back in September, @noisecolourlife and I held the very first (very successful) Australia vs. US Paleo Challenge. We quickly made plans to stage another round, and the “mystery ingredient” we decided on was “offal”. And so, the “Offal-Off” was born. With no idea what the other had chosen, we set out to cook up something tasty (and Paleo) using some kind of organs or offal. Wait…
I’ve got a confession to make:
Until recently (with my purchase of veal livers and chicken livers…still waiting in the deep chill of my freezer for the right time to defrost), the idea of buying, let alone eating animals organs just weirded me out. But thanks to smart posts like this one from Balanced Bites and this one from Chris Kresser, I’ve started to warm to the idea of eating organs. For this challenge, I decided to start with something “safe” and so I ordered up a lamb heart from US Wellness Meats (didn’t hurt that it was on sale), a trusted source of grass-fed and ethically-raised meats. So, my little ticker arrived frozen with the rest of my bulk-meat purchase a couple weeks ago, and I set out to decide on a recipe.
From my research (and my biology background), I knew heart could be tough if cooked wrong (after all, its job–like all muscles of the body–is to contract away, day in and out, for a lifetime), so I settled on cubing, marinating and grilling it. Properly trimming the heart was part anatomy lesson, and I was happy to find and cut away the tough connective tissue (valves, blood vessels, etc–take that bicupsid valve!). The flavor was well, like lamb and the meat came out pretty tender. I served the skewers with a side of braised red/green cabbage.
lamb heart skewers with a side of braised cabbage…mmm!
Grilled Lamb Heart Skewers with Ginger-Shallot Vinaigrette
1. Trim heart of connective tissue/fat and cut into small cubes.
partially trimmed (not the whitish value tissue in the lower left)
2. Mince shallots.
3. Place cubed heart, half of the shallots, and ~1 tbsp olive oil into plastic ziploc bag. Marinate for at least 1 hour in the refrigerator, flipping the bag often.
4. Prepare bamboo skewers by soaking in water (or find your metal skewers).
5. Chop the onion into large chunks and separate layers for the skewers.
6. Remove heart from refrigerator. Alternate pieces of meat with onion on the skewers. Grill on medium until the meat is cooked through but not overdone (medium-well is how we grilled it).
7. While the meat is grilling, prepare the dressing: Combine the other half of the minced shallots, minced ginger, red wine vinegar, 2 tbsp of the olive oil, salt and pepper to taste in a small container. Mix well.
8. Remove skewers from the grill and drizzle with dressing. Serve extra in a small container for dipping.
*If you do not have shallots, you could use a mixture of minced onion and garlic.
I recently struck up a conversation with @noisecolourlife regarding coconut oil of all things. Turns out, that dialogue morphed into an idea for a Paleo cooking challenge with national pride at stake. She lives in Melbourne, Australia (future travel destination?), and I’m here in Southern California. Iron Chef Transcontinental Paleo Smackdown, anyone?! (this really is a friendly collaboration)
After a bit of idea-swapping, we decided to each create a Paleo recipe (we both happen to also be doing a round of Whole30) using two common ingredients: lamb and cumin (insert mmmmm here). Other than that…free reign. I chose lamb because I’ve never bought/cooked it (say what?!), and let’s just say that being quite Type A, I tend to perform well under pressure. The other stipulations are tracking meal cost and making some other poor soul sample and give comments on our meal.
Enter my wild card…the CSA box. Each Tuesday, I pick up a box of farm fresh, organic, local veggies from Suzie’s Farm at CF Invictus so decided to also integrate something from the box into my meal. Not wanting to copy any recipes, I made something up off the top of my head but with a few considerations: it had to be easy to make with minimal ingredients (stupid-easy, as always).
Pistachio-Crusted Lamb Chop over Kale with Roasted Veggies
**Combination of smoked paprika flakes, garlic, basil, salt
1. Set the oven to 385 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with foil.
2. Prep the veggies (wash first, of course): halve the carrots and split lengthwise, cut tops off okra, cut cauliflower into florets, slice onions, halve cherry tomatoes, rough-chop the garlic, and slice handful of mint leaves into chiffonade (really thin slices).
3. Place carrots and okra on one baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and toss.
carrots and okra
4. Place cauliflower on the other sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with 1 tbsp cumin and 2 tbsp cocoa powder. Toss.
cauliflower, cocoa power, cumin
5. Put veggies in the oven to roast while you prep the rest of the meal. Roast ~20 minutes or until caramelized and softened.
6. Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1-2 tbsp olive oil. Saute garlic for ~1 minute. Add kale, onion and tomatoes and 1/4 c. water. Place lid on and steam for 5-8 minutes or until fork tender.
kale = superfood
7. While kale is cooking…chop pistachios. I used a food pro (but be inventive…put them in a plastic baggie and pulverize with a rolling pin for example). You want a small enough texture that it will stick to the lamb chops but not too fine that it creates a paste. Mix in 2 tbsp South African Smoke seasoning and 1 tbsp garlic. Dump out onto a large plate. Dredge the lamb chops in the pistachio mixture, applying pressure so that it sticks to all sides of the chops.
pistachio / spice crust
8. Remove kale from heat and place in a serving bowl.
9. Using the same skillet, heat to high and add 1-2 tbsp olive oil. Sear lamb chops on both sides for approx. 3 minutes each. DO NOT OVERCOOK! You are searing the outside to make a crispy crust, not cooking all the way through. Tough lamb = no bueno. Remove to a glass baking dish.
sear but watch so the pistachios don’t burn
10. Remove roasted veggies from the oven. Set oven to broil (on high). Broil lamb for ~2-3 minutes per side to finish. Medium-rare is the farthest you want to cook this.
before the broiler…pistachios are browned
11. Assemble your delicious meal. Sprinkle chopped mint on the carrots and okra. Serve lamb over a bed of the kale.
I volun-told my husband into eating this (of course he would have had some anyway). His take: the cumin was present but not overpowering, and he really liked the roasted veggies. And oh…the tender lamb?? He wasn’t used to lamb being so “soft” but thought it tasted great [Note: Dan grew up on a farm. His family raised sheep. He has eaten tons of lamb…apparently all overcooked…] and was keen on the cripsy pistachio crust.
For being a lamb newbie, I was totally impressed by the quality of the Trader Joe’s grass-fed lamb…rich dark color and so incredibly tender (go Kiwis!). The chops were a little on the expensive side, so I’d likely save them for a special occasion meal. Most of the items were purchased at Trader Joe’s but almost everything could be found in a conventional market, save the South African Smoke blend (but easy to replicate using the aforementioned spices).
Here is the meal total (good for four adult dinner portions):
Lamb loin chops: $11.72
1 lb bag organic carrots: $0.79
4 oz pistachios: $2.49
1 head cauliflower: $0.79
1 package organic mint: $1.79 (used half in the meal s0 really $0.85)
10 oz kale $1.99
South African Smoke seasoning $2.29
(The other veg, spices and oil I had on hand)
Grand total: $21.01 / 4 = $5.25 per serving…pretty good bargain!
I absolutely cannot wait to see what @noisecolourlife is cooking up!!! Australia vs. US Paleo Challenge #1 is what I’m calling this because there will be more! And, this is the perfect way to kick off the new blog…happy cooking y’all!