One of the delights of working in the food business is the wide variety of folks you meet; dedicated farmers, steadfast fishers, enthusiastic foragers and adventuresome eaters. When I had a restaurant and catering company in Bangor, one of the most memorable meals I cooked was a dinner for the Physicians for Social Responsibility hosted by Stephen and Tabitha King.
Tabby is a thoughtful and talented cook, and for this event, I followed her lead. She researched the menu, helped with the recipes, and insisted upon using local foods. Her knowledge of cuisines, tastes and textures is unparalleled, and she helped me navigate the protocols of international cuisines.
Lamb was the featured carnivore selection, because as Tabby explained to me, sheep or lamb meat is among the most easily digested and widely accepted in the world, particularly if it is grass-fed. In Australia, roast leg of lamb is the national dish. In Greece, Turkey, North Africa, Indonesia, Mexico, Iceland, Spain and all parts of the United Kingdom, sheep meat is an integral component of many meals, including religious feasts.
Here in Maine, we are fortunate to have numerous sheep farmers, with products available at local markets and food co-ops, health food stores, farmers markets and directly from the farm. We purchase two lambs for the freezer every fall from Happy Town Farm in Orland. North Star Sheep Farm in Windham is nationally recognized for its operations, or check out Salt Run Farm in Penobscot and Apple Creek Farm in Bowdoinham.
Ground lamb is one of my favorite ingredients to cook with. The flavor is rich and hearty, perfect for a savory, grilled burger. Ground lamb also is an ideal complement to other meats (like venison or moose) in recipes for meatballs. Spicy Lamb Meatballs easily adapts to many ground meats, but venison is my favorite.
These tasty treats are delicious with a pesto or mint-yogurt sauce, and shine in a tomato-based sauce. Enjoy as cocktail fare, and freeze them for a quick and easy supper.