A young man’s journey in cooking grass-fed meats
By Reid Hensen
I am beginning to think there may be a stigma around young men in their 20s who live in ski towns and drive a rusty old van from 1992. That stigma was recently identified in the surprise expressed by Kathleen Bean (my wonderful boss here at Lava Lake) when I began discussing with her how I typically prepare this lamb cut or that. Shock took hold of her expression as we entered a dialogue of rack preparation ideas and my journey to find the easiest and best way to make our delicious lamb baby back ribs. It is also demonstrated to me as I drive my van to meetings with farmers and ranchers and see their faces as they see my bike rack, skis, muck boots, and horse tack all stuffed in the back.
I wanted to write a post where I share some of those cooking tips, as well as speak to the stigmas and categorizations we give ourselves, our food, and each other and maybe some ways that we can break those down. But first, lamb.
Lava Lake Lamb has been breaking down lamb stigmas since day one. The Wood River Valley, where we are based, was the second biggest exporter of sheep in the world just 80 years ago. Now, when I ask people when they last ate lamb, they vaguely mention a holiday event or, worse, say that they tried it once, and didn’t like it at all. Lamb has a stigma of being the Easter meat of choice, and that’s about it. Well here at Lava Lake, we are working hard to raise the best lamb in the country. Range grazing on over 300 forage species and never given antibiotics or hormones, our lamb will have you questioning why beef was the only red-meat in your life.
Don’t trust the stereotype. With a little effort, you can have people wondering if you are a ski bum living out of his or her car or a 5 star chef, with this simple preparation of our baby back ribs.
• Step 1: Thaw out 1 package of ribs (there are two slabs in every package). I can easily eat a whole slab to myself, but I would say this will feed 2-3 people as a great appetizer or main dish.
• Step 2: Throw those ribs into a big bowl or plastic bag with a generous amount of salt and water (roughly ½ cup of salt and enough water to cover the ribs) and let them sit in the brine for about an hour
• Step 3: Drain the water, and replace it with your desired spices, oil, and wine. I throw in a couple of cloves of minced garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Let this sit for 30 minutes to an hour.
• Step Four: Turn your cast iron to high heat and sear the meaty side of the ribs with the marinade. (Seriously, just a quick 30-45 second sear is all you need.)
• Step Five: Oven roast the ribs on a pan at 275 degrees for 50 minutes to an hour.
• Step Six: Grab a drink, a friend, a side dish and enjoy!
It’s so easy to create a picture of what something is or isn’t in our head and just roll with that. We do it all the time. “Ranchers don’t care about public lands.” “Lamb is too gamey.” “Sheep overgraze our public lands.”
Well, I can tell you first hand, we are doing all we can to break those stereotypes. Come be a part of breaking down those walls with us.