Thursday, January 14, 2010

Lamb Chops

This is a photo of some lamb chops from one of our Navajo-Churro lambs we had processed last year. If you are unfamiliar with the Navajo-Churro, info can be found at the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy's website

The Navajo-Churro is an interesting breed with a poignant history. Nearly wiped out not once, but twice by governmental 'good intentions' , these sheep are hardy, easy keepers and remarkably easy to get along with. The majority of the rams I've worked with have been easy to handle (for male breeding animals! They always deserve your respect!) and the ewes are hardy and productive well into their teens.

But, one of the most interesting aspects of this breed is the outstanding flavor of the meat. (For more info on why you should practice conservation by consumption look at the blog post here by the same title. I haven't figured out how to post an internal link yet.) Navajo-Churro sheep tend to accumulate fat around their organs first, which I would imagine to be a handy survival strategy in a marginal environment. Since there is little fat in the meat itself, even male animals a year and a half old, as this lamb was, don't get a muttony flavor.

We cooked these chops by searing them for about three minutes on each side, one set we seasoned with salt and pepper, the other got nothing at all.

The flavor was incredible. I didn't believe Eric when he said he hadn't done anything else to them, the taste was herbal, almost perfectly seasoned on it's own. Of course, a lot of that could have to do with the fact that he (the lamb, not Eric) was finished entirely on grass, but whatever it was, the combination was perfect.

The only issue was finding a good wine to pair with it...more experiments necessary in this category!

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