The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

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June 28, 2014

Cooking with Simon: Celebrate July 4th with lamb burgers

PALESTINE — Being born in one country and raised in another can bring a bit of confusion to one’s life. And then to find yourself living in a third country as an adult, is one reason this kiwi is all messed up.

After being born in England, raised in New Zealand, and then finding myself in America for the past dozen years, 4th of July is a holiday I am just starting to appreciate. After all, aren’t Americans celebrating their independence from the country of my ancestors?

Not that I am complaining, because I love America and a good 4th of July party. Mainly, because of all the food, and, oh yeah, the fireworks, too.

For Father’s Day I wrote about cooking the perfect steak, well on the 4th of July it’s not just about steaks, but also burgers, chops, sausages, hot dogs, ribs, potato salad, cole slaw, watermelon, homemade ice cream – the list keeps going, and our stomachs keep filling up.

With all sorts of traditional food to enjoy, I’ve decided to just make small burgers, or sliders, this year and I am also going to use ground lamb instead of ground beef. It is very juicy and, in my opinion, has so much more flavor than ground beef.

I sell quite a lot of lamb and I am always amazed by the response from people that try it and how much better it tastes than other lamb they’ve eaten. I bring in New Zealand and Texas lamb so it is leaner and has less of a gamey flavor than Colorado lamb, which is bred and raised to be much larger.

Many people’s first thought, before even trying lamb, is that they don’t like it. They expect it to be gamey, strong and unpleasant. Actually, much of the gamey flavor comes from the fat on the animal and then settles into the meat. So if you’re told to eat the fat on the lamb, because that’s where all the flavor is – well, that’s the wrong kind of flavor.

This is especially true for leg of lamb, lamb chops and roasts. But I think you will like the ground lamb. Give it a try, and also save some to use later for making meatballs. That’s another story, but a tasty one, as well.

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