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Lamb Fat


rlibkind
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Warning: this post is not for those who insist on healthy eating at all times. But if you're adventurous, and enjoy an occasional indulgence with absolutely no redeeming qualities other than taste, read on.

First, you must like lamb. Because lamb fat is essence of lamb, just as chicken feet are essence of chicken. That's why I like both and, for the first time in more than a decade, feasted on lamb fat for dinner Saturday.

I've loved lamb fat since I was a kid, when my mom would make barely trimmed rib lamb chops only in the summer when she could use the backyard grill because she hated the smell. But my father and I devoured them.

I rekindled that love in Jerusalem about ten years ago at a shashlik joint called Shemesh Quick Bar on Ben Yehuda Street. They also served grilled goose fat along with more traditional kebab meats.

The lamb fat for Saturday's feast was procured from Martin's Quality Meats at Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market. I intended only to get some double-thick lamb rib chops, asking the butcher not to supply me with one of the puny, bulemic Frenched chops displayed out front in the case but cut some afresh, leaving plenty of fat. What he brought me had some fat along the bone, but not nearly enough to my taste.

"I love lamb fat," I told him.

So he took out another set of ribs and cut off the fat in a sheet of about nine inches square and a few smaller pieces, wrapped them and handed to me gratis, noting that he left traces of meat within the fat slabs. (Normally these trimmings simply go into the discard bin.)

Once home I unwrapped the precious package and cut the fat into strips about an inch wide, discarding the ragged ends. How to cook?

I knew I wanted to use my grill, but worried about the strips falling through the grates. I didn't want to lose one delicious morsel. So I took out three banboo skewers, about eight inches long or so each, and threaded three strips onto each. I chopped some fresh rosemary, pulverized four or five garlic cloves with kosher salt, and mixed it all together with fresh ground black pepper, then smeared it wantonly over the skewers and chops. I let it all sit for the 10 or 15 minutes it took to bring the grill to heat.

As anyone who has cooked lamb chops over direct grill heat knows, the more fat the higher the flames, raising the odds of winding up with pure carbon for dinner. Fortunate that my Weber gas grill has three burners, I put two of them to high heat and the third rear burner on low.

Once everything heated up, and greasing the grates with a square of the excess fat, I started out with the skewers on the back burner, hood closed so they would start cooking without calling in the fire department, moving them over the high heat three or four minutes later. Once under high heat, they needed near constant checking and turning. After they had reached the state of char I desired they returned to the back burner while I concentrated on cookinh the actual chops.

When the chops were done I brought the meat and fat to the table, my only accompaniment being some celeriac remoulade I prepped earlier in the day. The side dish was an excellent choice, since its mustardy tang complemented the main course's richness.

Piping hot is the only way to eat lamb fat (unlike the chops which you want to rest to allow the juices to be reabsorbed) so I dug right in. Although I ate them straight, they'd also be good on pita (with a spread of hummus and a bit of raw onion) or small flour tortillas (cilantro, raw onion, radish; skip the salsa).

I ate it all and don't regret it. Although I won't be making them next week, I won't wait ten years for my next taste.

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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If you're lucky enough to live near somewhere with a good central asian population, you can get some pretty great fatty lamb.

I've been here - http://www.cheburechnaya.com/ - we got lamb rib skewers and lamb fat skewers. The fat were just pieces of fat about the size of a finger joint, grilled and served with thinly sliced onion and white vinegar. I recall some flat round loaves of bread coming out with the skewers, as well!

The lamb fat in question (not my photo) - Assfat Kebab = Total Succulence

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lamb fat is essence of lamb

Agreed. How do feel about the fat from older sheep, compared to the meat?

chicken feet are essence of chicken

That wouldn't have been my 1st choice -- can you elaborate?

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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lamb fat is essence of lamb

Agreed. How do feel about the fat from older sheep, compared to the meat?

chicken feet are essence of chicken

That wouldn't have been my 1st choice -- can you elaborate?

Alas, I've had little opportunity to try mutton: pretty hard to find here in Philadelphia, though pinnekjott, a Norwegian Christmas dish of dried ribs which I have made, comes from older animals.

As for chicken feet, well, I find they just have an intense chicken flavor. That's probably why any grandma who is a good cook, whether Jewish, Italian or Chinese, puts a couple chicken feet into the pot when making stock. Plus it adds gelatin for mouth-feel. The only other chicken preparation that competes in flavor intensity would be gribenes, which is what you've got left when you've rendered chicken fat from chicken skin (and have thrown in a tiny bit of onion).

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Bob, you've sold me on the chicken feet. I wish I could magically add a Jewish, Italian and Chinese Grandma to my family tree.

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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I've been here - http://www.cheburechnaya.com/ - we got lamb rib skewers and lamb fat skewers. The fat were just pieces of fat about the size of a finger joint, grilled and served with thinly sliced onion and white vinegar. I recall some flat round loaves of bread coming out with the skewers, as well!

I can't stop talking about my favourite Xinjiang restaurants here in China, but I can't help it; they're so good. The place I go to most often has a guy in a box with a grill attached to the front - for street access. All he does is grill skewers of lamb. Each skewer alternates pieces of meat and fat, all coated with chili and cumin powder, then grilled to perfection. We usually order about then of these as soon as we sit down. The first time I got one, I thought - "Is that really supposed to be just a piece of fat there?" Then I ate it, and thought, "Why isn't this skewer ALL fat?"

In Shanghai, you can find them as well in Yunnan Road - there's a place we went to with a huge queue and SUCCULENT fatty skewers.

The man in the "Skewer Box"

IMG_0074.jpg

The skewers:

IMG_0077.jpg

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Oh how I love those cumin and chini sprinkled skewers. We can get them out in flushing here...there's one street cart I usually get them from after dim sum.

Last week, I noticed a new crop of places opening up out there that have skewers with a variety of meats (including some seafood)... one in the golden mall food court, and one under the bridge on main st near the train station. I didn't get a chance to try either of them, but I will next time I'm out there. I'm curious about how they're seasoned, since they are offering far more kinds of meat than just the lamb and chicken that I see at the other cart!

Edit - To stay more on topic, is there anywhere else that pieces of pure lamb fat are served like I've seen at the uzbek and other central asian places? I don't remember seeing any in israel, though there was certainly enough lamb going around that there much have been boatloads of extra fat.

Edited by davidkeay (log)
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Every lamb shoulder has a triangular clod of fat near the blade bone, which can weigh as much as 8 oz. Butchers remove this fat from all boneless rolled roasts and some even remove it from bone-in roasts.

Ask your butcher for an untrimmed, whole shoulder, and de-bone it yourself. The ribs and bones won't be wasted, the meat makes for great kabobs, hamburger or rolled roast, and you get the alabaster purl inside.

lamb-fat.jpg

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  • 9 years later...

It definitely is "essence of lamb". I did a shank in the crockpot yesterday and just defatted the excellent broth leaving a bit of fat. The hardened fat I lifted off is in the freezer. Do you see any enjoyable uses for it? I'd have to get the clinging gelatinous liquid off if use to saute, or just keep to use bits to enrich a soup or bitter vegetable prep???

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