The Flavors of Spring Lamb
with Suzanne Klein
Chief Yummy Officer
lamb Mediterranean Middle Eastern spring
Sheep production is thought to be man’s oldest organized industry. Domesticating sheep as a source for both clothing and food dates back at least 10,000 years to Central Asia. The German word “lambiz” was quickly shortened to “lamb” in Old English, a term that has meant “a wee sheep” since at least the 8th century A.D. During the Middle Ages, farmers discovered even more uses for sheep, including skins for parchment paper and milk for butter and cheese. It’s said that Christopher Columbus’ voyages during the late 1400s were financed with sheep’s wool.
Lamb, technically, refers to a sheep that is less than 12 months old. These “wee sheep” tend to make a culinary appearance each spring. Tender spring lamb is typically five to six months old and appears at the butcher shop between March and October. Today’s top lamb-consuming countries? New Zealand, Australia, Greece, Uraguay, and Ireland.
When it comes to lamb preparation, take a visual trip around the globe for different inspiration. The English often slow roast lamb and serve it with roasted potatoes and fresh mint sauce. A typical Scandinavian preparation might include mustard seeds and an anchovy-based brine. A Mediterranean lamb dish often includes olive oil, lemon, and garlic. A Korean barbecued lamb might feature miso (soybean paste) and kimchi (a spicy, fermented condiment). The classic Persian preparation, Rogan Josh, is a curry-based stewed lamb. And the most American variation has to be the lamb burger.
Depending on where in the world you’re searching for inspiration, here are some of our favorite Savory Spice Shop seasonings to celebrate the distinctive flavors of spring lamb.
- Limnos Lamb Rub: A Greek-inspired seasoning for lamb, this blend features classic Mediterranean flavors, including sea salt, lemon, Mediterranean thyme, Greek oregano, and spearmint. Simply rub a leg of lamb with olive oil, coat it with Limnos Lamb Rub and roast or grill it. Or bring lamb-inspired flavors to your favorite vegetarian dish, like our squash tart.
- Za’Atar Seasoning: There are hundreds of variations of this Mediterranean condiment, varying by region, town, and family tradition. Savory’s version of Za'Atar features sumac, toasted sesame seeds, Mediterranean thyme and Greek oregano. The combo provides a nice citrus-y zing (from the sumac) and interesting texture (from the sesame seeds) for our lamb meatballs.
- Rogan Josh: Red lamb stew, or rogan josh, is a classic Persian dish. Our salt-free Rogan Josh curry blend has a spicy kick with cayenne, but is nicely balanced with the sweetness of coriander, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves. Our recipe for Rogan Josh (Red Lamb Stew) is equally delicious made with chicken or pork.
- Baharat: Another Middle Eastern-inspired blend, Baharat is often referred to as Lebanese allspice, because its uses are so versatile. Featuring some of the common flavors associated with allspice (cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg), Savory’s Baharat blend also adds the sharp heat of Lampong peppercorns and the sweetness of Spanish paprika. This flavor combo works perfectly for our grilled lamb kebabs.
- Coastal California Fennel Pollen Rub: Fennel and lamb go hand-in-hand. What’s great about this truly American-inspired seasoning, with classic flavors, like orange, garlic, California paprika, and Aji Amarillo chiles. This combo makes Coastal California Fennel Pollen Rub perfect for flavoring our decadent lamb burger.
Whether lamb is one of your favorite meats from the butcher’s counter, or you’re new to the distinctive flavors of lamb, the key to a great lamb dish is the seasoning. You can’t go wrong with one of the above blends or recipes.
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