Monday, November 28, 2011

Lean on Lamb - Lamb Pizza!

About two months ago I was contacted by the Tri Lamb Group (a collaborativeinitiative of lamb producer organizations from the U.S., New Zealand andAustralia) about hosting a supper club for 10-12 of my closest friends.  The goal of this group is really to educate American's on lamb.  In general, I think people think of poultry, beef and the other white meat - pork - for meats when cooking dinners, while lamb is not something that typically comes to mind.  This group's goal is to change that.  Turns out, lamb is much leaner and nutritious than beef.

By providing the components for a great meal they are able to provide a group with a fantastic experiencing with lamb to get the ball rolling.  In addition to the ingredients, the group also provides some fun decorations, like lamb jokes that also include lamb facts.  My favorite joke: "What is a lamb's favorite protest?  Flock-upied Wall Street!"

Recipes and Jokes.
Growing up, my mom actually cooked lamb about once every two months for my family, and since moving out it is always my request from her when we have a "fancy" dinner at home.  When I go out to eat, if there is lamb on the menu, I generally order it.  However, I have only cooked lamb once at home.  I think I find the meat intimidating to cook for some reason.  So, when given the chance to put a meal together and get some more experience under my belt in a well-guided atmosphere, I jumped at the opportunity.

Lamb Pizza!
After I agreed to host a Supper Club, they informed me I was going to make a lamb, pepper and arugula pizza - whats not to love about that?!  Even better, even the biggest suspects of lamb could get behind pizza!  So the day before the day of the supper club, the Lean on Lamb group sent us a cooler packed with all the necessities for cooking lamb pizza.  I mean - they even included the olive oil!

Some of the ingredients
To begin, I chopped up a couple of cloves of garlic and the two shallots.

All Chopped Up
I then took the pizza dough and stretched it out on some square baking sheets that had olive oil drizzled over them.  I then popped the baking sheets with the pizza dough on them into a 450 degree oven for 5 minutes.  I loved that the group sent whole wheat pizza dough - it all felt that much more nutritious.  

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
While the dough was cooking and then cooling, I heated a tablespoon of olive oil in a non-stick skillet and added the garlic, shallots, ground lamb, tomato paste, oregano, salt and pepper until the lamb cooked up and was nice a browned - about 7 minutes.

Cooking the lamb
While the meat was finishing up, I brushed both of the semi-cooked pizza crusts with some olive oil.  I then attempted to evenly distribute the ground lamb over the both pizza crusts.  Somehow I was actually fairly successful and did not dump it all in one area!  Next I topped the meat with the pepperoncini.  I just pulled them directly from the jar rather than measuring it completely.  However, based on some of the feedback, if I were to make this again I would probably add more of the peppers since the tart vinegar flavor went well with the other pizza components.  Finally, I crumbled the goat cheese log and evenly tossed the crumbles over both pizzas.

Ready for the oven
I then put both pizzas back in the 450 degree oven for about 15 minutes, or until the cheese started to brown and melt and the crust edges were browning as well.

All done cooking!
The final step included tossing the arugula with a tablespoon of olive oil - I did it in the zip lock bag the arugula came in for easy tossing.  Once coated fully, I placed the greens onto the top of the pizza and allowed it to sit for another two minutes to allow the arugula to wilt a bit.

Ready to Cut and Serve
The pizza came out really well and even the guests who were a little worried about having lamb enjoyed their meal.  The suspicious people were those who just have not had as much exposure to lamb for one reason or another, but mostly because taking that first bite of a lamb meal made then a bit nervous.  This pizza was a great introduction because the lamb was ground and really looked like beef and was not too overwhelming.  Most of the guests loved the contrast between the lamb flavors and the pepperoncini.  The peppers really helped bring out the lamb flavor.

Overall this was a fantastic experience that allowed me to try my hand at another another lamb dish and feel confident about what I was serving to a number of close friends - close enough that they probably would have eaten it anyway, but also close enough that I did not want to let them down.  Completing this night was the wine served - we took this opportunity to serve a number of wines that we were planning on trying out for our wedding.  Getting a good idea of what the wedding guests liked made the night even more festive!

For the supper club, getting to expose a group of people to a good lamb dinner is exactly what they wanted.  For me, getting to serve some delicious food and drink to my nearest and dearest made for a near perfect evening.

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  1. I didn't realize the pizza dough came too. Very cool!

  2. Yum. I tried this at Megan's lamb event -- it was pretty awesome! I don't use lamb nearly enough!

  3. the pizza came out awesome. i love that you used the lamb party to sample wedding wines!

  4. Oh that looks so good. I love lamb and have recently tried it on pizza at Trade. I really like the idea of it with arugula!

  5. I love the mission of the Tri-Lamb Group. I think lamb intimidates a lot of people. I know I always just worry about messing it up because it's more expensive. It's pretty easy to cook though. And this pizza was wonderful. Yours looks amazing!

  6. My sister recommended this post and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!

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