The Flavors of Spring Lamb
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 trip around the globe for 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 sweet spices in Baharat (sometimes called Lebanese allspice) are a natural pairing for lamb. And the most American variation has to be the lamb burger.
And across these different cuisines, you might find some of the same spices. Greek-inspired Limnos Lamb Rub and Middle Eastern Za'atar Seasoning both have thyme, while Coastal Cali Fennel Pollen Rub and Baharat both have coriander and paprika. 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, thyme, oregano, and spearmint. Simply rub a leg of lamb with olive oil, coat it with Limnos Lamb Rub and roast or grill it. For more great flavors for lamb, shop from our collection of Mediterranean Flavors or bring these Mediterranean-inspired flavors to your favorite vegetarian dish, like our squash tart.
There are hundreds of variations of this Mediterranean condiment, varying by region, town, and family tradition. Savory’s version of Za'atar features sumac, sesame seeds, thyme and oregano. The combo provides a nice citrus-y zing (from the sumac) and interesting texture (from the sesame seeds) for unique Za'atar Naan Pizzas, topped with ground lamb and feta cheese.
A 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. Try this flavor combo on our Baharat Lahmacun (which translates to "meat and dough" in English).
Coastal Cali Fennel Pollen Rub
Fennel and lamb go hand-in-hand. With bright flavors, like orange, garlic, California paprika, and Aji Amarillo chiles, this truly American-inspired Coastal Cali Fennel Pollen Rub is 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.