Notes From Swan's Nest

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Spring and Summer Lamb

I always think of lamb when I think of springtime. A lamb roast, tied with string so it roasts evenly, with slices of fresh garlic inserted into the meat, seasoned with salt and pepper and sprinkled with fresh rosemary and additional chopped garlic – the fragrance fills the house and almost calls out, “Pick up the phone and call friends to enjoy this!”
 
Or thick lamb loin chops, sautéed in a skillet with a touch of olive oil until they are brown on the outside and pink and juicy inside, then served with a quick pan sauce of sautéed garlic and a reduction of red wine and beef stock. In the summer, it’s lamb brochettes threaded onto metal skewers with onions and bell peppers, grilled just until the meat is medium-rare and served with a refreshing tzatziki sauce. Or lamb chps, cooked over a charcoal fire, served with a fresh berry salsa, garden salad and roasted corn.  I could go on….
 
I’ve always loved lamb, but during my early-married years, I associated lamb more with holidays. I have my mother-in-law to thank for introducing me to lamb as more of a mainstream dish. She served it frequently during Sunday family get-togethers, toasty-brown, sizzling and fragrant from the oven, with platters of roasted new potatoes and vegetable casseroles.
 
I’m forever looking for creative ways to prepare seasonal lamb recipes. That’s why I had so much fun last August when I teamed up with Kate Pfenning of Catherine’s For Lamb in Driscoll, ND. For three days, we drove around the state of North Dakota, hauling a portable grill and introducing people to the flavor and versatility of preparing lamb. From quick, everyday meals such as lamb fajitas, to backyard grilling or fine dining, Kate and I taught North Dakota home cooks at farmers markets, CSA gatherings, on the radio, and on television how fun and easy it is to create memorable meals for family and friends.
 
Kate and her husband founded Catherine’s For Lamb in1995 on their sustainable family farm. Together with their three young sons, they raise Katahdin Hair Sheep, a wool-less breed with a delicate flavor similar to the lamb Kate associates with her native New Zealand. I was privileged to stay with Kate’s family at their farm, get to know her family, and witness the care with which they produce lamb for Kate’s business.
 
Kate has been supplying North Dakota restaurants, supermarkets, and Bismarck-area CSA (consumer supported agriculture) members with prime cuts of lamb since her business began. In 2010, Kate joined two farmers markets in order to provide home cooks in Fargo and Minot with lamb roasts, stew meat, racks, ground meat, and other popular cuts. But those of us who live in other regions of the country can enjoy Kate’s delicious lamb, too. The Catherine’s for Lamb website makes it easy to order favorite cuts of lamb and have it shipped in time for summer grilling and all year round. www.catherinesforlamb.com.
 
- Christy