BROOMFIELD, Colo. — The holidays are a perfect time to experiment with main dishes while still hosting a traditional meal. Unique flavors, tantalizing aromas, and a house full of guests are the recipe for a happy holiday meal. This giving season, ‘wow’ family and friends with some delicious Colorado lamb, which is not as challenging as you might think!
Colorado is well known around the world for its high quality lamb, ranking third in the nation for sheep and lamb production with nearly half a million head raised statewide. Colorado lamb comes from a variety of sheep breeds raised primarily in free range pastures, with many animals grazing in the meadows and fields of the high country throughout the summer and fall.
Lamb is packed with essential nutrients and is an excellent source of protein, zinc, selenium, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B12, iron and vitamin B6. Just three ounces of lamb deliver 23 grams of protein – almost 50% of your daily protein needs. Lamb fits easily within the daily fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol recommendations of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Lean cuts of American lamb include the leg, loin, and shoulder. Did we mention that protein helps with muscle synthesis, which will help you build muscle tone even in the depths of winter?
Sheep also provide a favorite winter fiber staple – wool. Colorado consistently ranks among the top five states in wool production, producing 2.2 million pounds of wool in 2017. According to Ernie Etchart, sheep rancher and president of the Colorado Wool Growers Association, Colorado ranchers are determined to raise the best balance of lamb and wool possible.
Want to know more about what a day in the life of a sheep rancher is like? Follow along with Jorgiea, a Western Slope sheep rancher, on her social media platform @jorgiearaftopoulos.
Each month the Colorado Department of Agriculture features a different ag commodity to highlight the variety and quality of products grown and raised in the state. For December, Chef Jason Morse of 5280 Culinary brings us roasted Colorado lamb.
Chef Jason says, “Amazing lamb flavor doesn’t come from 50 ingredients, it starts with Colorado Lamb and ends perfectly cooked and tasty. For this recipe we focus on simple ingredients that allow that rich and deep flavor of Colorado Lamb to be the star on the plate. That’s perfection. Happy Cooking!”
Roasted Colorado Lamb
Chef Jason K. Morse, C.E.C., 5280 Culinary, LLC and Ace Hardware Grill Expert
Yield: Serves 10 people
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour to 1½ hours – depending on desired doneness
Cook Temperature: 375 degrees Fahrenheit
5 – 5½ lbs of Colorado leg of lamb roast, boneless, netted
4 tbsp oil, canola/olive oil blend
4 tbsp, 5280 Culinary Game On Rub (or similar rub/seasoning)
2 sprig fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
2 tbsp fresh crushed garlic
1 cup tomato chutney or bacon jam, for garnish
Looking for Colorado options for your garnish? Check out the bacon jam from Sprigs & Sprouts of Western Colorado or from 5280 Market (or make your own). For tomato chutney, see the versatile options from HurrytheFoodUp.com and find fresh products for your favorite recipe at coloradoproud.com.
- Wash all tools prior to use
- Clean and sanitize all cutting boards and prep surfaces prior to use
- Read all manufacturer’s instructions before using grills, starters and any cooking tools
- Heat oven to 375˚F.
- While the oven is heating up, prep the lamb as follows:
- Pick the leaves off the rosemary and thyme and chop fine.
- Place the chopped herbs in a bowl and add the oil and seasoning, mix well.
- Remove lamb from the package, leave in the net and pat dry on all sides.
- Season to taste on all sides with oil, herb and seasoning mixture.
- Place onto a roasting rack and onto a cooking sheet pan to catch the juices.
- Allow to rest on the counter for 10-15 minutes while oven reaches cooking temperature.
- Add the lamb to the oven, on the pan and onto the center rack.
- Roast the lamb at 375˚F for 1 to 1½ hours or until desired doneness is reached
- When lamb has reached its desired temperature, use tongs to remove lamb from the oven, place onto a heat proof surface and allow to rest for about 35 minutes before slicing and serving.
- Serve with tomato chutney or your favorite bacon jam.
If you are of legal drinking age and would like to add a wine with your meal, 2020 Mesa Park Vineyards Équilibre red blend. For alcoholic alternatives, check out Sparkling CBD Beverages: CBD infused beverages like sparkling citrus water, sparkling cherry soda, and more.
Visit www.coloradoproud.org for a complete list of recipes.
–Danielle Trotta, Colorado Department of Agriculture