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Every year at the seder we commemorate the three iconic foods of Passover – the matzah, the bitter herbs, and the Karban Pesach—the lamb sacrifice that today, of course, is only remembered symbolically. But this year can be different from all other years, when you serve Grow and Behold's succulent ethically raised kosher lamb at your Passover holiday table. The lambs used to produce this unusually tender, sweet meat are raised in the Smokey Mountains of the Shenandoah Valley in West Virginia, where they graze freely until they are collected for kosher slaughter. Then, Grow and Behold offers this delicious meat in a variety of cuts. 

We spoke to Naftali Hanau from Grow and Behold to learn more about what lamb options are available to the kosher consumer.

All About Lamb

LAMB ROAST: A lamb shoulder roast is a boneless cut similar to a beef roast, which lends itself well to a classic spice, rub marinade, and low, slow roast followed by a quick sear at the end of the cooking process for a beautiful dark crust and perfectly juicy meat. “Non-kosher lamb roast comes from the hind leg,” Hanau explains, “but the kosher substitute comes from the shoulder. It’s not as neat as the traditional version, so it has to be netted, but it is absolutely delicious.” He serves his roasted lamb with a savory pan sauce made with the vegetables that roasted under the lamb and collected its flavorful drippings, mixed with wine, broth, and rosemary.

LAMB SHANKS: Naturally, shank meat has lots of connective tissue, which can be tough, but when cooked correctly, the gelatin in the collagen breaks down, adding a rich, smooth quality to the meat and its sauce. “Of course, lamb shanks are the most traditional cut for Passover!” says Hanau, demonstrating a simple braised shank flavored with thyme and garlic. 

LAMB RIBLETS: Loaded with rich, delicious natural fat, riblets are the most economical cut of lamb. “It’s very fatty,” explains Hanau, “so to get good results you need to cook it correctly.” The unctuous quality of the fatty meat is set off in many non-kosher cuisines by a light, spicy yogurt sauce, but Hanau finds that a tahini sauce and a crunchy cucumber salsa achieve the same refreshing effect. “A pinch of cayenne and sumac is my secret!” he says.

LAMB CHOPS: The classic cut most of us have tasted be-fore, Hanau says lamb chops are “so good they don’t need much!” He suggests a simple lemon pepper spice rub or a spicy coffee chili rub if you want to dress up your chops for a holiday meal, but salt and pepper is really all you need. There are three types of lamb chops, each cut from a different location along the animal—the cooking method is the same for all three, but the texture of the final result will differ slightly. There is the rainbow chop from the center of the lower shoulder, the lamb shoulder chop (a.ka. ‘second cut lamb chops’), are cut from the upper shoulder, and finally, the coveted lamb chop, which is most tender. This chop is cut from the rib, and is the analogue to a bone-in beef rib steak.We sell three different kinds of lamb chops: rainbow chops, shoulder chops, and lamb chops, all cut to ~1” thick.

GROUND LAMB: A welcome change from the familiar ground beef, you can use half ground lamb, half beef to add deeper flavor to meatballs and kebabs without the final taste being too gamey. Hanau is especially fond of traditional lamb kebabs—his mother serves them at the Seder for his wife Anna, who grew up Reform and did eat lamb roast at the Seder. “You can prepare the kebabs in advance, freeze them, and then sear them just before the meal,” he recommends. “Use a neutral oil that can handle high heat, like grapeseed oil. Don’t crowd the pan! You want the meat to sear nicely, not steam. Be sure to give it time to cook properly—don’t touch the meat until it releases easily from the pan on its own.” While some experts caution that ground meat be cooked until well done when you don’t know how the raw meat was handled, using a high-quality meat source like Grow and Behold means you can enjoy your ground meat dishes at medium doneness as well. 

ROASTED LAMB & THE SEDER: Orthodox Jews traditionally do not eat roast lamb at the Passover seder, since we don’t want to imitate the sacrificial lamb of our ancestors. But the other meals of Passover are the perfect time to savor the one-of-a-kind flavor of free-range, grass-fed lamb, just like our forefathers would have once eaten. Next year in Jerusalem!

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These earthy Cumin Lamb Kebobs can be grilled, broiled, or fried, then served with a tangy Cucumber Mint Salsa.   

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slow roasted lamb riblets

Riblets are often overlooked, since they are relatively fatty. While many chefs have been turning this cut into lamb bacon for a while, we are starting to see the riblets grow in popularity among home chefs as well. When slow-cooked or smoked, they become incredibly tender, and the flavor of the fat is as rich as marrow.    

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lamb kebobs with fresh mint and cilantro

These Mediterranean flavored Lamb Kebobs with Fresh Mint and Cilantro can be grilled, broiled, or pan-fried. 

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Recipes published in JOY of KOSHER with Jamie Geller Magazine Spring 2015 SUBSCRIBE NOW

Pesach 2015 Magazine cover