BBQ Contest Foods: Lamb
Astute readers or even the occasional reader, of this blog know that the American Lamb Board sponsored our team Smokey Mikes for our lamb category in the NEBS sanctioned grilling contest at the Hudson Valley Ribfest. OK, I think I've got everyone covered.
We were really excited to get the American Lamb for the contest. The flavor and tenderness of the American Lamb is far superior to what I've experienced with the New Zealand or Australian lamb in the past. We knew that we'd have a bit of an advantage cooking this meat.
To get the meat, I picked it up at the Hunts Point Food CoOp in the Bronx from B. Rosen and Sons. We took it as a good omen that we were getting the lamb from a Rosen, as that is the last name of one of the Mikes.
I tell you, going up to Hunts Point is a story in itself, but it was amazing to see how much food is distributed from this market. I also used this trip as an excuse to visit the new Fulton Fish Market. They're both amazing places, but in these days of terrorism I question the wisdom of centralizing all the food distribution for the Northeast in one poorly guarded location.
So what about the contest you say? Well, we cooked two boneless legs of lamb and 4 sides of baby back lamb ribs for the event. I skinned the ribs and seasoned them with a doctored version of Wild Rooster Barbeque Sauce - Mustard Mania. For the leg Mike seasoned one with garlic and herbs, tied it and smoked it whole. For the other leg I butterflied it and made a marinade of the seasonings that we had with us. I don't remember the exact recipe but it included apple juice, mustard, garlic and olive oil.
When turn in time came, the ribs and Mike's leg were ready, but the butterflied leg needed to cook some more. We tasted the lamb and decided to submit the ribs. We liked them a lot and thought the mustard would be an interesting seasoning departure from the traditional BBQ flavors. Unfortunately, the judges didn't agree. We came in solidly in the middle of the pack.
We seasoned up the remaining legs of lamb and put them in the cooker to feed the crowds during the day. (Well, we seasoned up what we thought was the remaining lamb, but one survived to make the trip back to Brooklyn to become De-constructed Shepard's Pie) This lamb we gave out to the people along with recipe cards and other promo material.
The crowds ate it up. We fed them for about 2 hours. I was really surprised to hear from many many people that they've never had lamb before or don't cook it themselves. But they all seemed to love it. Another very interesting conversation that seemed to happen a lot with the older folks was that our lamb was the flavor that they remembered. We all attributed that to the fact that this was American lamb. I wish we had a list of retail markets to give them, because I was asked repeatedly where they could purchase it.
After the lamb entry was submitted and while Mike was making the next entry, steak; we took off the butterflied leg that I mentioned earlier. We cut that up and started to munch on it. Damn - this was the lamb that we should have submitted. It was outstanding. Even one much trusted opposing competitor thought so. Too bad it wasn't ready in time. On to the steak.