Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Warning: The title of this post is not figurative. It is literal. As in a literal lamb for a literal dinner. So, if you find that kind of thing offensive, don’t read on.
I will be the first to admit that I never thought I’d eat a little lamb. Just like I don’t think I will ever eat a little calf. I am not vegan. I am not vegetarian. I am not a member of PETA. And I won’t be mad if you all eat veal. I just don’t like the thought of myself doing it.
That said, it was mr’s turn to pick from the Martha, Kraft, Recipezaar choices, and - you guessed it - he picked lamb chops. Mustard Herb lamb chops from Martha’s Every Day Food to be exact. Oh, sigh. So, when it’s your turn to pick, you get to pick the entree, side dish and dessert with no comments or groans from the peanut gallery. He picked lamb chops, oriental coleslaw salad and he forgot to pick dessert. (FORGOT TO PICK DESSERT, you ask? Yes, I know. That’s what I was thinking. So I had to pick it for him. But I digress... Back to the lamb.)
At first I pulled a face and almost said no. But then I remembered I’m attempting to be more adventurous and try new things. And then I realized that if I did it this once, I wouldn’t have him pestering me to do it ever again. So I decided to let him have his way.
That was before I hunted for two days to find some darn lamb. Apparently, there are a lot of people out there who think eating lamb is just plain wrong, because normal grocery stores don’t carry it. I’m not kidding.
The Hunt, Day One
I do my grocery shopping at Walmart. I know, I know, many of you are thinking there are much better places to find food, and that Walmart is trying to take over the world... but it’s the only store in my town where I can fit two kids in the extra toddler seats and put a car seat on the seat in the cart and still have the whole back of the basket free for food. So, Walmart wins. (there you go, Festival, now you know the truth. Want my business? Get bigger carts.) I figured it was unrealistic to expect to find lamb at walmart - a place where you can’t even buy huggies bath wash anymore - but I decided to check since I was there. Nope. So, after shopping, we ran over to Festival. (I should mention that I was shopping much later in the day than normal because I had a dr. apt. so by this point, the kids were well beyond needing a nap...) I found the lamb after looking everywhere, but didn’t know what kind of lamb to buy. You’d think lamb is lamb. But you'd be wrong. Apparently lamb is a whole lot of things... the guy helping me tried to figure it out. “What kind of chops do you need?” “Um, I’m not sure, I’ve never made the recipe before.” “Well, how are you cooking it?” “Um.... well.....” (I hadn’t looked at the recipe closely enough to pass this kind of quiz) “Are you baking it?” Blank stare. “Most people bake chops and this is the kind of chop you need for that.” He handed me the loin chops. I remembered the recipe said I needed 8. There were two in the package and there were only two packages on the shelf. I decided 4 was fine and I’d just half the recipe. While thanking the man for his help I noticed another package that said rib chops. They looked kind of familiar, like I’d seen them before.... I went up to buy the lamb and stood in line, only to notice right before purchasing the meat that one of the packages was broken open. So I gave the meat to the cashier and left.
Fortunately for me, my parents weren’t able to make it on Monday and we’d pushed our weekly date to Tuesday.
The Hunt, Day Two
I try to do something more fun with the kids on Tuesdays since being strapped to a cart on Mondays isn’t super exciting for them. But, I needed that lamb. I got the kids into the car and ran to Pick n Save. We unloaded, and after a meltdown from bug because there weren’t any “car” carts to ride in, we made it to the meat case and discovered... no lamb. So, back into the car. I called mr and asked directions to the next nearest Festival, because it appeared that was the only place I would find any. The next nearest Festival is about 25 minutes away. So, we go for a ride. At the next Festival, they have lamb. Or, they USUALLY do. They carry it, but were sold out. So, back into the car again. K biffed it in the parking lot and bug accidentally kicked mini when trying to climb into his car seat (“I do it! I do it mysowf!”) so with three screaming children, I made my way across the city to the other Festival. Unload. Back to the meat case... and we’re in luck! Three packages of lamb loin chops, unopened, unbroken, and VERY EXPENSIVE. (no wonder no one eats lamb.)
Feeling like Bo Peep, I took my precious packages home.
After the fiasco with the hunt, I was pretty sure that no recipe would taste good enough to be worth all that.
Cooking time came and I realized that I had misplaced the recipes. They were nowhere to be found. So I found them online (I had to use a different one for the oriental slaw, since the original one I was using was my mom’s variation.) I began to read through the recipe for lamb as I always do before starting. And on the recipe I noticed a very familiar little picture. It was a picture of lamb chops, yes. But lamb loin chops? NO. Nope, these were lamb rib chops. And furthermore, the recipe called for frying them up in oil - about 3 minutes per side. I don’t know how much you know about your cuts of lamb, but there is no way a loin will cook in 3 minutes. I was not about to serve rare lamb to my family. What to do, what to do?? I spent a small fortune, not to mention gas, time, effort, and a little bit of my sanity just to get the wrong lamb. We were going to eat it, and we were going to like it. I just had to improvise a little... the only way to make sure the lamb would cook right according to the instructions was to make it thinner. The only way to make it thinner was to smash it really hard with a meat mallet. And the only way to do that was to first cut it off the bone. So, there I stood in my kitchen, up to my elbows in lamb, vowing I would never make lamb anything ever again.
After pounding the meat flat, the cooking went very well. I had enough time to make everything, even the dessert. (which was Autumn Pear Crisp from Kraft). Dinner was served and the lamb was a big hit (good. It took enough out of me, stupid lamb.) I ate only a small amount, and decided that, yes, I was right. No dinner would taste good enough to be worth everything I did for that meat.
The slaw was atrocious. I don't know what went wrong with it, because it seemed normal. This recipe was just nowhere near as good as my mom’s. (I know, them’s fightin’ words, right? But it’s true. My mom’s slaw is better than yours, online recipe site!) So that made me pretty sad.
For me, the highlight was dessert (of course) which was really yummy.
The rest of the family loved the lamb. We served it with German mustard. mr thought it was a great alternative to my schnitzel (which I will have to add on here some time just because it is so delicious) because it’s much much much much lower in fat. Dad just loved the taste and tenderness. Mom thought it had very good flavor and bug, well, he actually gobbled it up - he wouldn’t touch the slaw, but I don’t blame him.
(Go here for the Herb Crusted Lamb Chops, go here for the yummy Autumn Pear Crisp and just wait for the slaw recipe because I have to get another copy from my mom.)