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Silere Merino Lamb Review + Recipes

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merin lamb 1My first experience with lamb happened on a sunny Easter Sunday in Greece.  This was back when all I ate was dry chicken breast, and I had no intentions of trying the main course that spent all day roasting in the backyard.  Despite my resistance, the smell was irresistible, and after a few (too many) glasses of wine and some persuading from my husband, I experienced my first spit roasted lamb. 

And I loved it.  Although I refused to admit it at the time.  

merino rack of lambSo when I got the opportunity to review a new variety of lamb to hit the US food scene, I was pretty excited.

Since we’ve moved back to the states, I’ve changed a lot about the way I eat.  I’ve added in more animal product, and removed everything processed. I focus now on whole foods that have been raised responsibly- because it’s better for my body, animal welfare, and the environment.  Enjoying unbelievably delicious food along the way is just a perk.

Unless I get my lamb from a local farm whose practices I trust, I usually look for Australian or New Zealand raised lamb, as they are typically grass fed and pasture raised.  So I was really excited to learn about Silere Alpine Origin Merino lamb from Silver Fern Farms. 

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Long prized for their wool, the breed has quickly gained notoriety for its meat as well. (Food & Wine Magazine recently called it “The Next Great Lamb”)  The Merino roam the slopes of New Zealand’s alpine regions, grazing and foraging the way that nature intended for them.  This lifestyle results in animals that mature more slowly and are naturally leaner than other breeds of sheep.  It also comes through in the delicate flavor and texture of the meat. 

DSC_0070When I opened my package, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the frenched rack.  The rack was smaller than the Australian lamb I have cooked with before, and had noticeably less fat.  It was also lighter in color, more pink compared to the deeper red that Australian lamb usually has.  After a quick sear, I popped the rack into the oven for about 12 minutes.  I think that 10 minutes would have been perfect, as this lamb is definitely enjoyed best rare.

Lamb makes its way into our dinner rounds pretty frequently, and this was absolutely the best lamb we’d ever tasted. My Greek husband has eaten a lot of lamb in his day, and it actually isn’t his favorite due to its usual gamy flavor. The Merino lamb had no gamy hint whatsoever (even though gamy isn’t something that I mind).  If you think you don’t like lamb for that reason, I’d highly suggest this variety.  The chops were incredibly tender, buttery and nearly without the need to chew.  A much finer grain than other lamb I have cooked and eaten. 

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I served it over a mint and pea puree with some baked sweet potato fries on the side.

I made this plate last Saturday around 11 am, after my husband had eaten breakfast.  He said he wasn’t hungry and that he would have it when he got home from work….

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When I walked back into the kitchen a few minutes later he had literally eaten it all.  

Oh, and since we’re being honest here, that knife and fork weren’t actually used.  Sometimes utensils just slow you down, ya know?

(recipe at end of post)

The other cut I was privileged to experiment with was the Merino lamb loin filet.  After trimming the little bit of fat from the cut, I just went with a quick sear.  The outside got good and caramelized, while the inside stayed rare and amazingly tender.  Again, the fine grain of this particular lamb variety is unlike any other lamb I’ve cooked with.  Like the rack, the flavor was mild and not at all gamy which makes it perfect for pairing with foods that lamb might otherwise overpower.

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 I went a little mediterranean this time and served the lamb over some roasted garlic and feta mashed potatoes.  They made the perfect little bed for the lamb, which I kept simple to really allow the flavor to shine. Some roasted cherry tomatoes and chopped greek olives finished the plate.  

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Are you still with me?  Thanks for sticking around for this lengthy post.  I loved testing out this lamb and would absolutely recommend it if you are able to get your hands on some, certainly if you see it while dining out.  

While the lamb for this post was provided by Marx Foods, the opinions are my own. 

Merino Rack of Lamb with Minted Pea Puree and Sweet Potato Fries
Serves 2
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
45 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
45 min
For the lamb
  1. one rack of Merino lamb, frenched
  2. 3-4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  3. 1/4 cup olive oil
  4. rendered pork fat (pasture raised)
  5. salt and pepper
  6. brown mustard
  7. splash of white wine
For the Peas
  1. 1.5 cup frozen peas
  2. 2 tsp butter
  3. 1/4 cup half and half
  4. 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, packed
  5. squeeze of lemon
For the Sweet Potato Fries
  1. 1 large sweet potato
  2. 1.5 tbs rendered pork fat (pasture raised)
  3. 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  4. 1/2 tsp onion powder
  5. 1/2 tsp paprika
  6. salt
Instructions
  1. Add olive oil, garlic cloves, salt, pepper, and rack of lamb to a plastic bag. Marinate in the refrigerator at least 2 hours, overnight if possible.
  2. Remove lamb from refrigerator.
  3. Preheat oven to 425. Peel potato and slice into fries, trying to keep a consistent size to ensure even cooking. Melt rendered pork fat and add to a mixing bowl with garlic powder, onion, powder, paprika, and salt. Add potatoes and toss to coat.
  4. Spread fries over a parchment paper lined baking sheet, careful not to overlap or crowd fries. Bake for 15 minutes, remove from oven and flip fries. Return to oven for an additional 10 minutes. Keeping the fries in the oven, reduce temperature to 375.
  5. While the fries bake, add peas to a small saucepan and add enough water to cover. Bring to a simmer and cook peas for 3-4 minutes. Drain water.
  6. To peas add butter, half and half, and fresh mint. Use food processor or immersion blender to pulse mixture to a puree. Add squeeze of lemon, and salt and pepper to taste. Reserve.
  7. Heat a cast iron skillet, or oven safe pan over high heat. Add a teaspoon or so of rendered pork fat.
  8. Score fat on rack of lamb and sprinkle both sides with salt. Add rack to hot pan, fat side down first. Sear for 1 minute and flip. Spread mustard over the top of lamb and add to oven. Have a peek to make sure fries aren't getting too toasty.
  9. Cook lamb for 10 minutes. Remove lamb and fries from oven and allow lamb to rest for 5 minutes before cutting.
  10. While lamb rests, deglaze hot pan with a splash of white wine and 2 teaspoons of mustard.
  11. Divide pea puree, lamb, and fries between two plates. Drizzle lamb with pan sauce and serve.
Notes
  1. *Merino lamb has significantly less fat than other lamb varieties. Careful when scoring not to peirce meat.
  2. *10 minutes should result in rare to medium rare lamb
Reclaiming Yesterday http://reclaimingyesterday.com/
Seared Lamb Loin with Roasted Garlic and Feta Potatoes, Olives, and Tomatoes
Serves 2
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
45 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
45 min
For the lamb
  1. one Merino lamb loin fillet, trimmed of fat and silver skin
  2. 1/4 cup olive oil
  3. 2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  4. dried oregano
  5. salt and pepper
For the potatoes
  1. 1 large russet potato, or 2 small
  2. 4-5 cloves garlic
  3. 2 tbs butter
  4. 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  5. 1/2 cup feta
  6. whole milk
For the tomatoes
  1. 1.5 cup cherry tomatoes
  2. drizzle olive oil
  3. salt and pepper
  4. To top: mixed greek olives, pitted and chopped
Instructions
  1. Add olive oil, 2-3 cloves garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, and lamb to a plastic bag. Marinate for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight.
  2. Remove lamb from refrigerator.
  3. Preheat oven to 375. Spread tomatoes on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Add 4-5 cloves of garlic to a square of aluminum foil. Drizzle with olive oil and fold into a pouch.
  5. Add tomatoes and garlic to oven, roasting for 25 minutes, giving the tomatoes a shake after about 15.
  6. Meanwhile, peel potatoes and cube. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and add potatoes, cooking until they are tender (10-15 minutes)
  7. Drain potatoes and return to pan. Add butter and oregano and mash, adding milk until you have achieved desired consistency (use a food processor for a smoother result) Remove garlic from aluminum pouch and squeeze into potatoes. Mash to combine. Add crumbled feta and stir to incorporate. Salt and pepper to taste.
  8. To a pan heated over medium high heat add a drizzle of olive oil. Sear lamb for 3-4 minutes on each side. Remove and let rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing.
  9. Divide potatoes and lamb between two plates. Spoon over roasted cherry tomatoes and garnish with chopped olives.
Notes
  1. *3-4 minutes should result in medium rare lamb. Adjust cooking time according to preference.
Reclaiming Yesterday http://reclaimingyesterday.com/
 

 

 

 

 

 



6 responses to “Silere Merino Lamb Review + Recipes”

  1. Hey Allyson,
    Nice blog.
    You know why the lambs are free to roam in NZ? They don’t have barns there! My daughter lives there and last we skyped she told us that the TV news showed video after a snow storm of the sheep standing in the snow with just their heads poking out. They had to be dug from the snow.
    Funny!

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