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Love Affair with Lamb

I do love lamb. It is expensive, but a couple of shoulder chops or lamb steaks can be made to go a long way, cutting the per-serving cost of a lamb entrée to a less budget-bashing amount.

By now, the lambs born in February are fairly well grown. In Scotland, their meat would be called “mutton.” Whatever you call it, it makes a mouth-watering, aromatic ragout. Here is a Greek version, a nostalgia recipe for me that takes me back to the winter my late husband, our home-schooled sons, and I spent on Crete. Marjoram, thyme, and oregano grew wild there. Tomato plants produced fruit until the hot January sirocco blew in from Egypt, destroyed the plastic greenhouses, and wilted the vines.

        Lamb Stew
         4 servings
¼ cup flour
¼ teaspoon salt
Dash pepper
1 pound lamb leg or shoulder meat cut in 1-inch cubes
1/2 cube  (1/4 cup) butter, divided
½ Tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons tomato paste    or ¼ cup tomato sauce
¼ cup white wine or 1 scant Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
½ cup chopped green bell pepper
2 rather skinny carrots, sliced
1 large or 2 medium size onions, wedge sliced
1 cup water
½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
Pepper to taste
½ teaspoon dried oregano flakes or ½ tablespoon fresh oregano leaves

Mix flour salt and pepper in a paper bag. Put the lamb pieces in and shake to flour all sides of the meat cubes.
In a large skillet that owns a lid, heat the half butter and the oil. Stir-fry the onion and garlic until glossy and wilted. Push the onions to one side of the skillet or scoop out with a slotted spoon and reserve. Add the rest of the butter to the skillet. Add the lamb pieces and brown on each side. Mix onion with lamb.

Combine tomato paste or sauce with ½ cup water and stir into the skillet along with the wine or vinegar, green pepper, carrots, salt and pepper. Reduce. Heat to medium low. Cover. Simmer 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until lamb and carrots are tender checking occasionally to be sure enough liquid remains for form delicious gravy.

Serve with steamed brown rice, pasta, or mashed potatoes.

Nutri-Tip: Lamb is one of the best sources of lysine, a protein that, had I eaten enough lamb or beefsteak, might have enabled me ward off my recent debilitating bout of shingles.  I had chosen between a certain allegic reaction to an immunization shot and a possible case of shingles (herpes zoster).

You only get lysine from animal proteins, or from pills. If you’ve never had chicken pox, don’t worry--you will never get shingles. Enjoy lamb for its own sake.