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The New Grilling Superstar

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Posted: Sunday, May 11, 2014 10:00 pm | Updated: 1:33 am, Mon May 12, 2014.

(Family Features) This grilling season, choose lean, tender lamb as the centerpiece for your summer entertaining menu.

Once served only for Easter, there’s no reason why lamb can’t be enjoyed all year long. Just as turkey has moved beyond Thanksgiving to become everyday fare, the same is true with lamb meat — it’s readily available for all seasons and easy to prepare, allowing for lamb kabobs, burgers, thinly sliced leg of lamb and chops to be a delicious addition to your grilling occasions.

Myths behind the meat

“In my career as a cookbook author and cooking instructor, I have never seen a more misunderstood ingredient than lamb,” said Amy Riolo, award-winning author, chef, television personality and culinary educator. “While prized in most other places in the world, lamb remains a mystery to most Americans.”

If you haven’t tried lamb in a while, you may be surprised by this flavorful protein. While often confused for mutton, the tougher meat of older lamb, young lamb is tender. Others may shy away from this choice protein, believing it has a gamey taste. But modern lamb is raised differently than in the past, resulting in a sweeter, succulent taste. Can lamb fit into a healthy diet? Sure! This rich-tasting meat contains, on average, 175 calories per 3-ounce serving. Lastly, people assume it’s expensive; but value cuts, such as the shoulder, leg and ground lamb can fit into any grocery budget. 

A better-for-you selection

Serve up lean lamb cuts — including the leg, loin and rack — for a protein- and nutrient-packed dish. In fact, on average, a 3-ounce serving delivers almost 50 percent of your daily protein needs and is a good source of iron. Also rich in zinc, selenium and vitamin B-12, a 3-ounce serving of lamb can provide nearly five times the amount of essential omega-3 fatty acids when compared to beef. Lamb is also raised without the addition of synthetic hormones. 

Grill up goodness

Chef Amy Riolo provides these tips for serving up the most scrumptious, savory lamb right from your own grill.

  • In a hurry? Choose cubed leg of lamb for kabobs, rib chops or boneless butterflied leg of lamb — cuts which can be grilled in minutes.
  • Aromatics are lamb’s best friends. Onions, garlic, spices and lemon juice enhance the natural sweet flavor in lamb.
  • Grilling lamb with garlic, mint and olive oil is a great way to introduce lamb for first-timers. Cut slits into the lamb meat and insert pieces of garlic cloves, then rub with oil and dried mint.
  • Use a meat thermometer to measure the internal temperature. Lamb will continue cooking after you pull it off the grill, so it’s best to remove it about 10 degrees lower than your target temperature.
  • Lamb is best served medium rare (145°F) or medium (160°F). All ground lamb should be cooked to 160°F.

For more lamb recipes and cooking tips, visit www.leanonlamb.com, www.pinterest.com/leanonlamb or on Twitter @leanonlamb. 

Kale & Pomegranate Salad with Grilled Lamb

Recipe: Kale & Pomegranate Salad with Grilled Lamb

Ingredients:

For marinade:
  • 1 1/2 cup pomegranate juice
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 (4-pound) leg of lamb, deboned, butterflied and trimmed of visible fat
For dressing:
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
For salad:
  • 5 cups baby kale
  • 1 bulb fennel, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds or sliced red grapes
  • 1/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
  • 1/4 cup walnut halves, toasted

Preparation:

  1. Combine marinade ingredients in large plastic zip top bag; add lamb and place in refrigerator 8 hours or overnight.
  2. Remove lamb from marinade, pat dry and set on tray.
  3. On gas grill, turn all burners to high, close lid and heat until hot, about 15 minutes. Scrape grates clean and brush with oil. Grill lamb, fat side down, over medium-high heat 25 to 35 minutes total, turning half-way through cooking, depending on desired doneness, about 145°F for medium rare and 160°F for medium. Remove from grill and loosely cover with foil, let rest about 15 minutes and thinly slice. While resting, prepare salad.
  4. In large bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients. Add kale, fennel, pomegranate seed or grapes and toss to coat. Arrange dressed salad on platter and top with sliced lamb, Gorgonzola cheese and toasted walnuts.

6 servings

Lamb Loin Chops with Green Bean & Potato Salad

Recipe: Lamb Loin Chops with Green Bean & Potato Salad

Ingredients:

For salad:
  • 1/2 cup fat free plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 pound green beans, ends trimmed and cut in half
  • 2 pounds small red new potatoes, larger potatoes cut in half
For lamb:
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 1/2 pounds lamb loin chops (or 10 loin chops)

Preparation:

  1. In large bowl, whisk together yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice and zest, dill, chives, salt, pepper and cherry tomatoes; set aside.
  2. In large saucepan bring 6 cups water to a boil. Add green beans and cook until tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and add to bowl with dressing. Add potatoes to already simmering water and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain potatoes and add to bowl. Toss to coat.
  3. Combine garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper in small bowl. Place lamb chops on large tray and rub garlic oil mixture all over lamb loin chops; set aside while grill heats.
  4. On gas grill, turn all burners to high, close lid and heat until grates are hot, about 15 minutes. Scrape grates clean. Grill lamb chops about 6 minutes per side or until cooked to 145°F for medium rare. Move to clean plate and let rest 5 minutes. Toss potato salad again and serve with lamb chops.

6 servings

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