I wish you could’ve been with us at Four Winds to witness the eccentric, slightly fanatical butcher. “Look at this meat. Is like the finest filet, no? You want me to mince the whole loin? No? You don’t want more than two steaks? Is beautiful, no?” … Crimany. We escaped – just barely – with two [large] loin steaks and nearly two pounds of mince. So, inundated with lamb, we set off, imagining all the different ways to cook this beautiful and delicate meat.

We’ll get to the lamb in a sec. First a trip to the beach for a gorgeous sunset.

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Rejuvenating. I could certainly get used to that. [Unlike the negative temps and 10+ inches of snow dumped on Minneapolis the other day.]

Back to the lamb. Unfortunately lamb is the “black sheep” of red meats in the U.S., constantly being passed over for beef, pork or veal. An undeserved snub. Lamb is tender, succulent, earthy and rich if prepared with care.

1. The first appearance was the thick steaks oven-roasted to perfection and cubed for fondue dipping. The best representation of true lamb flavor on its own, but the fondue stole the show here.

2. A too-small pizza two nights prior - homemade dough topped with roasted garlic cream sauce, mozzarella, spicy pork sausage, fresh tomato slices, onion and purple basil – was still heavy on our minds. We needed more. So half of the lamb mince made its way onto pizza, this time making the full dough recipe instead of halving it – a quick and easy task with his Kitchen Aid* stand mixer. The slightly wet dough in conjunction with a perforated pizza pan, produces a crisp yet chewy crust, the perfect canvas for a bright yogurt sauce, spicy lamb and salty feta and olives.

The secret to superb pizza is to use the best ingredients you can find, and to approach them with restraint. For instance, just because a little cheese is good, doesn’t mean an overload will be better… So when the resident cheese-aholic [he out-cheeses me!] wanted to cover the entire pie - including the feta – with shredded mozzarella, my response was: “Sure, on your half. I’m a purist.”

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It pains me to admit: my feta-only slices were great, but his feta+mozz slices were amazing – the mozzarella a perfect balance for the salty tang of the feta.

Mediterranean Lamb Pizza [serves 2 - very hungry, or 3 - moderately hungry people]

Printable recipe.

1 recipe of dough, pressed out thinly onto one large and one small perforated pizza pan [or two medium, etc.]

yogurt sauce (recipe to follow)

spicy lamb mince (recipe to follow)

1/2 c mixed Greek olives, pitted and coarsely chopped

2 large scallions (green portion), coarsely chopped

4 oz feta cheese, crumbled

4 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded

For the yogurt sauce:

1/2 c plain whole milk yogurt

1/2 garlic clove, finely chopped

juice of 1/2 lemon

handful fresh mint, finely chopped

pinch ground cumin

pinch dukkah

dukkah

pinch of ground coriander

salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For the spicy lamb mince:

3/4 lb minced lamb (not too lean, otherwise it will be dry)

1/2 garlic clove, finely chopped or smashed into a paste with the back of your knife

pinch ground cumin

pinch dukkah

small pinch ground cloves

salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 475° F.

Brush the top of the pressed-out pizza dough lightly with olive oil. Spread the yogurt sauce over the dough then sprinkle on the sausage, chopped olives, feta and scallions. Top with mozzarella.

Bake in the middle of the preheated oven until the cheese is bubbly and deep-golden brown, rotating once; 15-20 minutes.

A squirrel bread original.

3. The real star of our ovine ménage à trois: lamb burgers. The patties were juicy and thick, a slight blush on the inside. They brought together the mellow flavor of lamb – sweet and faintly gamey – with garlic and onion, earthy cumin and coriander, woodsy oregano, warming paprika. Tucked into toasted homemade challah rolls and topped with a slice of the Bûche de Chevré, each mouthful was aromatic yet cooling, crunchy yet tender, salty yet delicate. Lovely. Rounding out the meal was a simple romaine and tomato salad, drizzled with a lemony, minty yogurt dressing.

Regrettably there is no pictorial documentation of these heavenly burgers. Truth be told, we were too busy devouring them; faces, hands and wrists dripping with juice from the lamb. Although I should have liked to capture that…

*Swoon, swoon, swoon…

Aimée, these are spot on – especially #5! I needed a laugh.

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