If I were to explain my proclivity for lamb from a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) perspective, I’d say that, energetically, lamb is naturally “yang”, or, warming. TCM uses lamb to nourish Qi (energy), warm blood circulation and bolster strength.
From a nutritional standpoint, 100% grass-fed (and finished) lamb is heart-healthy. It is a significant source of omega 3 fats, a healthy fat that can help reduce inflammation and lower elevated triglycerides—both of which are linked to heart disease. In addition to being a good source of selenium and zinc, grass-fed lamb provides important amounts of B vitamins, especially B12, B6, folate and choline, which help prevent excess accumulation of homocysteine, an amino acid, in the body. (High levels of homocysteine have been linked to increased risk of heart attacks and strokes).
Whether you’re cooking lamb as part of a romantic dinner for two—or just for yourself—here’s a fast and easy way to prepare it.
Skillet-Cooked Lamb Steaks with Mint Pesto
Lamb shoulder arm chops are a less expensive (but no less delicious) cut than lamb steaks. I’ve bought 100% grass-fed arm chops for $7.99 / pound at my local Whole Foods Market versus $12.99 / pound for the center-cut lamb steaks (from the lamb leg).
For the lamb:
1 to 1-1/4 pounds 100% grass-fed lamb steaks (from the leg) or lamb shoulder arm chops
Celtic sea salt
Optional: 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
For the pesto:
1 bunch mint, thick woody stems removed and well rinsed
2-3 garlic cloves
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
1/4 cup olive oil
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Season the lamb steaks or lamb shoulder arm chops with Celtic sea salt on both sides.
Make pesto: Place all ingredients in a food processor until well combined. The texture of the pesto should be smooth and creamy.
To cook the lamb:
Add 1 teaspoon of fat—I like to use duck fat or grass-fed lard; olive oil is fine too—to the cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. When hot (but not smoking), add the lamb and sear for 1-1/2 minutes on each side. Turn off the heat.
Place cast-iron skillet (with lamb) on the center rack in the oven. Roast for 3 minutes on one side, then turn skillet to the other side and roast another 3 minutes (you’re turning the skillet for evening cooking). Done!
For medium-rare (which I recommend), cook until the internal temperature on a meat thermometer reaches 125˚F.
Spoon mint pesto over lamb. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds over lamb.
Serve with kabocha squash fries, braised romaine or escarole and green beans.