Friday, December 13, 2013

Lamb scraps = A Great Meat Deal!

Lamb scraps = A Great Meat Deal!

A bag of Stewing Lamb pieces for $5.99. These aren't in-store very often and usually there is only a few on offer - so when you see them grab them!
Get Flavour Enhancers to coat the lamb when you get home - saves time and effort at the cooking end and makes life easier!
There are lots of flavour options but I tried Slow Cooker Garlic & Herb Lamb Shanks; special 3 for $5.00 = It was absolutely delicious! I would most definitely use it again and recommend it.
Making cost of initial purchase: $11.00 for two delicious main meals for 4 x  people  plus I also got some tasty roasting lard from it too.
I only wished I had gotten two lamb packs but as I had limited space left in my freezer I had to settle for one. It was sooo worth it though!

Sorting out your bag of Lamb Pieces:

The key - make yourself comfortable and  give yourself plenty of space to work. I use the dinning room table, but I put newspaper down first ( makes cleaning up a breeze later). Then put the jug on as I need a coffee for all of my procedures...the coffee is optional for you of course ☺☺
Items you will need:
  • Chopping board, 
  • Sharp paring knife ( I find a paring sized knife easier to manage ) 
  • Plastic containers to separate the lamb into: bones, meat pieces and fatty bits 
  • A large mixing bowl or pan ( for stirring flavour mix around meat pieces and bones) 
  • Freezer containers or bags. 
  • Fry pan for rendering down fatty bits ( makes for super tasty lard for roasting ) 
  • An old coffee cup to pour hot fat into once rendered down. This fat is to be used for cooking ( lard) so choose a cup you won't miss. This lard can be stored in the fridge till needed, or freezer long term. 
Just before you start, prepare a bowl with hot soapy water - just in case you need to wash your hands in a hurry. Murphy's Law - inevitably the phone will ring, or someone will knock at the door at the wrong time!  Plunge your hands in a prepared soapy mixture for a quick rinse off.

Sorting meat out:
1. Separate the Large 'chop' pieces out first - usually about 5 chop pieces. Place on a tray or in a plastic bag. Use them as you would standard chops. While that isn't enough chop pieces for a main meal for four...
It will make a delicious warm NZ Lamb Salad Lunch for four people with the addition of a few salad ingredients, see recipe below...

NZ Lamb Salad Lunch  

Serves: 4 Cooking Time: 10 minutes Cost: $5

 Grill 4-5 lamb chop pieces until cooked and set aside to cool, serve them warm
 Shred 1/3 of a lettuce, dice 3 tomatoes - add to a large bowl. Add a finely diced small red onion ( optional) 
 Add ½ cup grated cheese and toss through to create a simple salad. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
 Try it with Eta Greek-Style yoghurt dressing - it has a hint of mint in and is absolutely delicious with Lamb.

Separate the rest of the meat into three types: 

Cut the meaty chunks off and remove excess fat. There is surprisingly few bones in these packs which is a good thing - that means it is mostly full of really useful meaty pieces.
The bones won't make a main meal for 4 on their own, but with the addition of veges and a cheap pack of neck chops ( 1 chop per person) they will make a delicious casserole - for under $10 the complete meal.
 Add one pack of Slow Casserole Mix to the bones and toss to get all the surfaces well coated.
 They will darken and should look like this. Already smells great before you cook them!
Put into a freezer bag and into the freezer. When you are ready for them they will marinate as they defrost creating even more intense flavour.
Use with a selection of vegetables, the additional neck chops and enjoy a hearty, delicious casserole for an economical friendly $10

Initially they will look like this, Lamb is quite fatty anyway so this is normal. Spend some time and trim the excess fat off - it takes a bit of time but the end result is sooo worth it!
DON'T throw the fat away - I have a plan for that....

Same Lamb pieces trimmed - looks better, right! That right there is the Money Shot of this whole exercise - lean lamb pieces, enough for a 4-6 family meal for just $6
Just shows it is worth taking that extra time over because not only do you get the meat pieces but the bones and fat ( yes, the fat is useful too) as well.
Dice 2 large onions and add them to the lamb pieces.
PS: Don't get bent out of shape over dicing the onions - this isn't an episode of Master Chef - not every piece has to be the same size...
Just dice it, if it doesn't look like the picture who cares, toss it in - it will still taste great regardless.
 Using a fork work the onions through the meat pieces - making sure they are evenly distributed.
 Add 2 x Packets of Slow Cooker Lamb Shanks Mixture to the meat pieces. I used one at first, but there is such a lot of meat pieces it really needs both packets to give it that intensity and depth of flavour. Mix well with the fork until all the mixture has been blended through and none remains at the bottom of the bowl.
 Looks like this when done - a rich dark colour, and it smells amazing!
 Same blended mixture up close - it doesn't appear as dark in the photo, that is down to my camera skills, because it definitely the same mixture.
Place into a snap-lock container and pop into the freezer. Completely fills a 1.2 Lt container but you may need to press it down to get it all in.
A great tasting Lamb Casserole that will marinate as it defrosts creating a richness and depth of flavour all of it's own.
Perfect for a cold night, your family will love it.
Serve with a dollop of Sour Cream or Greek style yoghurt for a bit of Mediterranean / Moroccan flare

Don't discount these as 'just rubbish' they are more useful than you might think. In a word - LARD !!!
You can render down these pieces and create your own lard which is great for roasting and adding that roasty-flavour to pan fried foods.
** TIP: You don't need a lot of lard but if you add a half a teaspoon at the last minute to pan fried items done in a pan that is coated with low fat spray - it will give food that 'deep fried flavour ' with out the deep fried fat content!
 It's hard to believe how the fatty pieces start off like this and become so different after rendering off all their fatty goodness.
SLOW HEAT, SMALL AMOUNTS - not crowding the pan is the key - and you want to do it slowly, turning often, so they don't burn.
 Small amounts at a time mean doing it in several batches - takes time but it is worth it.
 As the fat collects in the pan - you will need to pour it into a heat proof container. I use an old cup and just keep it for that purpose. Stores easily in the fridge.
 Using a funnel carefully pour the fat into the cup - remember it is HOT so be extra careful so as not to spill it on yourself.
 Looks like this in the cup - it is liquid because it is still warm. Once cooled in the fridge it will go solid like conventional Lard.
I got about half a cup from that bag - it's pretty much free anyway so it's all good.
This is what those fatty pieces look like now - they are no longer any use but once cooled, they make the best doggy treats - so give them to your "best friend'' of your Mate's best friend...that dog will love you forever!

 So let's recap
1 x Bag of Lamb Casserole Stewing Pieces  $5.99
+ 3 packets of Slow Cooker Garlic & Herb Lamb Shanks; special 3 for $5.00 = all up $10.99 

1 x tray of chops - suitable for a 4 person lunch
1 x bag of lamb bones - to be used as part of a 4 person casserole
1 x 1.2 Lt container of beautifully lean, marinated lamb pieces to make an amazing casserole for 4 - 6 people
1/2 Cup of delicious Lamb Lard for use in frying, roasting vegetables etc
3 meal starters for $11 = $3.60 each meal pack = not bad for NZ lamb!! That's not even counting the lard!

Worth the effort - what do you think?