It’s the West’s local meat—and tastier than ever. These show-stopper recipes show how deliciously far it’s come
Fennel seeds and rosemary perfume every bite of this tenderest of cuts.
Recipe: Fennel-Crusted Grilled Rack of Lamb
Mint jelly is traditional with lamb, but not everyone loves its cloying sweetness or garish color. This fresh mint pesto takes
a more savory direction, and is rolled up in the lamb to flavor it as it roasts.
Recipe: Roast Leg of Lamb with Almond-Mint Pesto
Hours of cooking on very low heat makes this lamb fall-off-the-bone tender, and a blast of high heat at the end crisps the
surface. All you need to round out the dinner are mashed potatoes and a salad.
Recipe: Slow-Roasted Leg of Lamb with Spring Vegetables
Ground lamb gets an Indian spin in this easy one-pot meal. It’s great when served with a few pieces of warmed naan.
Recipe: Lamb Keema with Potatoes and Peas
Anyone can have a simple hamburger, but with a recipe like this one, the question is why? Grilled bread and a pea and mint
relish enhance the juicy lamb.
Recipe: Lamb Burgers with Pea and Mint Relish
Quick-to-cook lamb chops served with a fresh summer salsa are all that’s needed for a simple weeknight dinner. We serve it
with a salad loaded with good-quality feta for a complete meal.
Recipe: Lamb Chops with Roasted Salsa
Bite-sized and full of flavor, these meatballs are an easy way to get out of the meatloaf rut.
Recipe: Moroccan Spiced Lamb Meatballs
Coffee and lamb? You’ll be amazed at how well they compliment each other. The result is a luxurious meal that’s fairly easy
to start and then ignore until ready with fall-off-the-bone results.
Recipe: Coffee-Braised Spoon Lamb
We love how the sweet and tangy flavor from the apricots compliments the rich and tender leg of lamb.
Recipe: Grilled Apricot-stuffed Leg of Lamb
The lamb is great, but it’s the toasty garlic sauce that gets drizzled over the top that makes this dish a winner. If you
like lamb, but you love garlic, then this is the recipe for you.
Recipe: Lamb Shoulder Roast with Roasted Garlic Sauce
Super quick, and plenty flavorful, the harissa marinade does double duty as a spicy sauce once the lamb is cooked.
Recipe: Harissa Lamb with Lemon Mint Chickpea Salad
It may look simple, but these spiced-rubbed lamp chops are so flavorful; the first bite will be a shockingly delicious surprise.
Recipe: Grilled Lamb Shoulder Chops with Pimenton Rub
The lamb cubes are the perfect size for eating with bites of the warm and salty halloumi cheese and juicy tomatoes.
Recipe: Grilled Lamb and Halloumi Kebabs
The salad is so good, we recommend making a bit extra to have the next day on a sandwich or over grilled chicken.
Recipe: Lamb Blade Chops with Olive Parsley Salad
This soup is a fun play on avgolemono, the classic Greek lemon and rice soup. Ours is better, of course, because of the mini-meatballs
that swim in the creamy broth.
Recipe: Creamy Lemon Soup with Lamb Mint Meatballs
These truly are amazingly, amazingly delicious and easy to make for crowd. Serve with a bunch of Mediterranean sides, such
as hummus and couscous, for a fun spread that will please the group.
Recipe: So Amazing Armenian Lula Kebabs
Using leftover kebabs, or any other spiced ground lamb, as a part of a morning-on-the-go item, is a smart way to get two meals
Recipe: Bulgur Kebab Burritos
We doubled this recipe so it could serve as a main course. Lamb loins are amazingly tender and flavorful but also expensive;
we found that cheaper lamb shoulder roast (although tougher) works too. Just cook it a little longer—about 10 minutes more.
Recipe: Spring Lamb Roasted with Mint and Garlic
Rich, warm, and spicy, this lamb stew is one of our favorites. We love to serve it as the main course to a spread of hearty
red wines and warm crusty bread.
Recipe: Spanish-Style Lamb Stew with Roasted Red Peppers
Arabic spices meet the Persian touch of pistachios in the kefta (skewered ground meat) at Mamnoon in Seattle, where the food combines the owners’ Syrian, Lebanese, and Persian heritage
with chef Garrett Melkonian’s Armenian background. We opted for an easier version: burgers.
Recipe: Pistachio, Lamb, and Beef Burgers
The sweet spices in this dish make it the perfect stew for autumn.
Recipe: Stuffed Kabocha Squash with Arabic Lamb Stew
Merguez, an aromatic North African sausage usually made from lamb, takes practically no time to grill. Spicy and smooth, the accompanying
chickpea purée can stand in for hummus any old time. To make the eggplant jam especially silky, peel and seed the tomatoes.
You could use skin-on seeded tomatoes in a pinch, or even good-quality canned.
Recipe: Merguez with Chickpea Puree and Eggplant Jam
Think sloppy joes, just jazzed up. Make the lamb mixture ahead of time and pack in a cooler along with goat cheese and spinach;
then heat and assemble at camp.
Recipe: Honey-Rosemary Lamb Sandwich
For a tasty twist on a lamb burger, try stacking it with crispy potato chive cakes and Idaho mustard spread. We used Idaho's
Lava Lake lamb (lavalakelamb.com) and Lark's Meadow Farms Dulcinea, a Basque-style raw sheep's-milk cheese, also from Idaho (larksmeadowfarms.com).
Recipe: Idaho Lamb Burgers
Chef Burak Epir of Pilita Grill restaurant in San Carlos, CA, serves this Turkish-style sauce over lamb meatballs skewered
with chunks of eggplant. We’ve grilled lamb chops instead, for a faster but equally delicious version.
Recipe: Grilled Lamb Chops with Turkish Grape Sauce
First baking the lamb shanks then adding them to the slow cooker with the caponata ensures both a golden exterior and juicy,
Recipe: Lamb Shanks with Artichoke Caponata
Jeff Smedstad, chef-owner of Elote Cafe ($$; closed Sun; elotecafe.com) in Sedona, Arizona, learned the secrets to great adobos (a type of chile-rich sauce) in the markets of central Mexico. This
lamb dish is adapted from one in his book, Elote Cafe Cookbook (Elote Cafe Publishing; $30).
Recipe: Lamb Shanks Adobo
The spices in this dish is what really makes the flavor pop. It's great with the couscous, but you could also serve it over
a Mediterranean salad, too.
Recipe: Lamb Shawarma with Couscous
These are great for cocktail parties since you can eat them one-handed.
Recipe: Spice Lamb Chops with Rosemary Crumbs
Cabernet Franc is a great foil for the Moroccan flavors of this pungent lamb dish.
Recipe: Lamb Chops with Moroccan Barbecue Sauce
A good, rosy cut of lamb, succulent and earthy-sweet, is as purely delicious as any other meat you can eat. A lot of people
might be skeptical, though. That’s because, only a few decades ago, American lamb was seriously gamy and tough.
But American lamb is a whole different animal now. Sheep in this country used to be raised mainly for wool, their meat an afterthought. Then synthetic fibers came along, wool production waned, and the industry started to breed for flavor and tenderness. No matter how you feel about polyester, it sure has given us better lamb.
There’s another reason to celebrate American lamb here in the West: It’s our local meat. Most comes from small Western family ranches (more than 75,000 of them) rather than factory farms. Some ranchers custom-sell lamb directly to consumers, right off the pasture, at any age desired, bypassing the usual six weeks or so of “finishing” the animals on grain in a feedlot. And though a well-raised lamb can taste fine finished on grain, lamb fed entirely from the range can be incredible.
With grain prices climbing, we’ll probably be seeing more 100 percent grass-fed lamb, particularly at farmers’ markets. Delicate, mild, and seasoned with the flavors of the pasture, it’s Easter worthy.
Choose a lighter hue of red. A younger animal will be milder, but size isn’t necessarily a clue, since American lamb is bred to be meaty. The biggest
tip is the color: Pink or cherry red means it’s young (less than a year); if it’s dark purplish red, it’s older.
Go for grass-fed when you can. Find 100 percent grass-fed lamb at eatwild.com and well-stocked grocery stores. Three of our favorite ranches that sell online: GrassRoots Meats (grassrootsmeats.com), Lava Lake Lamb (lavalakelamb.com) and Willow Spring Ranch Montana (montanaorganiclamb.com).