I start work as a Volunteer In Service To America (AmeriCorps VISTA) tomorrow. I don't have an apartment to move in to until August 1, and am luckily house sitting for strangers for the next two weeks. In the meantime we have been staying with Nic's mother and step-father, they live pretty much in the middle of nowhere in eastern Montana (about 7 miles down a dirt road on about 700 acres). Valley Creek Ranch has a growing Icelandic sheep operation (see sheep photo in previous post). The breed has tasty meat as well as excellent wool. This post will focus on the former attribute of the sheep.
I probably don't have as much to say about meat as Nic does. His constant companion (besides me) is a book entitled The River Cottage MEAT Book- although everything besides MEAT is written in a smaller and less contrasting font so that if you didn't take a close look you would think the book was titled simply, MEAT. While I haven't read much of it myself, I have been shown images of everything from a photo-essay of a cow being slaughtered to a gelatinous meat dish to a tub full of salted trotters, tail and snout. There are other images (and recipes) of better cuts of meat like chops and roasts as well as essays about the ethical treatment of animals, the virtues of cheap cuts of meat as well as large sections devoted to pork, beef and other game. Needless to say, the book has had an influence on how and what kind of meat we consume.
Which brings me to our 1/2 lamb roast that we had earlier this week. Some of the sheep on the ranch have become renegades- jumping through barbed wire fences and hiding in the neighboring cliffs. One of the recaptured lambs was taken to the local meat locker and made an example of what happens to naughty sheep.
We had one half of the lamb for supper. Since a half of a lamb is still a large amount of meat (13 pounds) Becky and Mike invited some friends over. Nic used a recipe adapted from the River Cottage MEAT Book- stuffing garlic, anchovies and rosemary into knife slits all over the lamb. The lamb was then rubbed with the oil from the anchovies. Anchovies have enough salt to make additional salt unnecessary while giving an added dimension to lamb without being fishy.
The lamb was then placed in 'La Caja China'- which is Spanish for 'The Chinese Box'... Think on that for a moment. La Caja is a large aluminum box in which the prepared meat is placed. A lid is placed on the box and then covered with hot briquets- making La Caja a different but delicious concept.
After roasting for about 2 hours, the meat was done- a beautiful golden outside and juicy interior.
The meal was served with coleslaw, grilled potatoes and bread. Even with 8 hungry guests, leftovers ensued, as well as a nap.