Question for you; are you familiar with merino lamb? Yes, as in that high-quality merino wool sweater you can’t stop wearing!
Today, I am hoping we get to know merino lamb a little more intimately–for its unmatched succulence and flavor. I’m so excited to share a special recipe for merino lamb loin fillets and roasted root vegetables! And with that, my humble review of the Silere Alpine Origin Merino
If you’ve been following my blog, you know that my husband and I are of Mediterranean origins; Eastern Mediterranean. We grew up on lamb meat; in fact, we fancy ourselves “lamb connoisseurs.” So when Marx Foods reached out and asked if I would give their Silere Alpine Origin Merino a try, I thought, “twist my arm.”
What I did not realize at the time is that I signed up for a “non lamb experience.” Or,to put it more accurately, a lamb experience unlike any I have had in the past.
The proof is in the pudding, right? So let’s talk about today’s merino lamb loin fillets. I very intentionally chose to prepare these lamb loin fillets the simplest way I know how: spiced only with salt and pepper, and grilled briefly on a cast iron grill for a beautiful medium-rare finish. I wanted to taste the merino lamb “un-doctored,” if you will. But to add a little Mediterranean flare, I decided to make a compote with apricots and raisins in a brandy-wine sauce. The flavors of this compote were sweet but subtle; a nice compliment to the lamb loin. I simply roasted some colorful root vegetables to complete the meal. This is what I made for my hubby on Valentine’s night, by the way. He is so spoiled!
Lamb is one of those meats you either love or not. So, I decided to run a bit of a risky test. I called on my friend Wendy who firmly belongs in the category of “those who do not love lamb.” She agreed to test this lamb recipe. Later, she sent me a text which read, “so…even though I’m not a fan of lamb, I tried a piece and it was good!!! Eric (husband) and Katie (daughter) can’t stop raving about it.”
Shall we get to the recipe?
- 1 russet Potato, peeled, washed, dried sliced into batons
- 1 sweet Potato, peeled, washed, dried, sliced into batons
- 3 bulk carrots, peeled, washed, dried, sliced into batons
- ½ large red onion, sliced (1/4 inch-thick slices)
- 3-4 beets, peeled washed, dried, sliced into batons
- 8 whole garlic cloves, peeled
- olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 6 springs fresh thyme
- 4-5 roasted garlic cloves, lightly crushed
- 1 cup dried apricots
- 2 tbsp raisins of any kind
- 1 spring fresh thyme
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ½ cup brandy
- 1 tbsp butter, softened
- ½ cup vegetable broth
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 whole cloves, optional
- pinch of ground green cardamom
- pinch of Aleppo pepper or cayenne pepper
- Olive oil
- 4 Silere merino lamb loin fillets
- Salt and pepper
- ½ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F
- Prepare the root vegetables. Be sure to cut the vegetables into large batons similar in size.
- Arrange the vegetables in a single layer on an oiled large baking sheet. Drizzle generously with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add the thyme springs.
- Place in the 400 degrees F heated-oven to roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Be sure to turn the vegetables over halfway through cooking. If your oven is not very strong, you may want to place your vegetables on the lower oven rack.
- To prepare the compote, begin with roasting 4-5 whole garlic cloves, skin on. Simply place the garlic cloves in a piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle generously with oil, and wrap the foil tightly around the garlic. Place in the already working 400 degrees F oven for 25 minutes or so. Remove from the oven. When cooled enough to handle, peel the roasted garlic and crush lightly with a fork.
- In a heavy sauce pan, combine the apricots, raisins, cloves, thyme with the white wine and brandy. Heat on medium for about a minute, alcohol will reduce. Now stir in the butter to melt, then add the broth, roasted garlic, cinnamon, and remaining spices. Let simmer for 4 minutes or so. Remove from heat and set aside. Heat again before serving, if needed.
- Take the merino lamb loin fillets out of the fridge and set in room temperature for a brief 10 minutes.
- Remove the top layer of fat (fat cap). Season each loin fillet with salt and pepper on both sides.
- Lightly oil a cast iron grill or griddle and heat on medium-high.
- Grill each merino lamb loin fillet on one side for 4 minutes, then turn over and grill on the other side for 3 minutes. Remove from heat onto a large cutting board and let rest for five minutes.
- Slice each merino loin fillet diagonally. Assemble in a serving platter and top with a garnish of fresh parsley. Serve with the roasted root vegetables and the apricot and raisins compote on the side. Enjoy!
You can certainly make my lamb loin recipe with any good quality lamb you find, but here is what I learned about the Silere Alpine Origin Merino:
– Clean. You probably agree that packaged meat of any kind often has a bit of a “coppery” smell. The two cuts of merino I received did not have any odor, not in the least bit. And they both looked a nice bright pink!
– Leaner. Merino loin fillets, as you would expect, have a top layer of fat, a “fat cap;” once trimmed, the fillets are left quite lean. There is just enough marbling in this merino lamb, but not the heavy fat deposits you find in conventional lamb. This is, in part, because it is raised grass-fed and free-range. I’m about to get a little geeky on you with a few nutritional facts: the foraging process in grass-fed lamb has shown to reduce the total fat content by 15% vs. conventional-fed lamb. Yet, grass-fed lamb is a significant source of omega 3 fats (at least 25% more Omega 3s than in conventional lamb). It is also a good source of vitamin B12, and antioxidants like selenium and zinc.
Lest you think all “grass fed,” “free range” animals are raised equally, they are not. This merino lamb was raised on the roomiest of lush grass and herbs of beautiful New Zealand pastures! Just to give you an example, Nokomai Station, one of the merino farms raises something like 25,000 animals across 100,000 acres. That means, each animal enjoys four acres all to themselves! I imagine these animals eat clean and keep active, don’t you think?
– Exceptionally light flavor. I have eaten lamb in various parts of the world; from Egypt to Greece, and even Paris, France. One thing is true, conventional lamb has a distinct taste, and it can be heavy and gamy if not well spiced and properly prepared. But as you see in today’s lamb recipe, there was not a whole lot of “TLC” or “doctoring” required. Even with the spices to a minimum of salt and pepper, this merino lamb was clean-tasting and delicious!
– Melt-in-your-mouth tender. Because merino meat is so fine-grained, I did not have to do a whole lot of cooking, nor a whole lot of chewing This was truly the most succulent bite of lamb I have had.
– A tad on the pricey side. Lamb is not the cheapest meat to begin with; and merino, my friends, is quite an upgrade. Here is where my dad would say, “you get what you pay for!”
Silere Alpine Origin Merino is currently available at fine restaurants and online. Browse the online Silere Merino Lamb selection through this link.
*Disclaimer: other than the lamb received for testing and recipe development, I have not been compensated. All opinions in this review are my own; and I have shared them here for the benefit of my readers who might enjoy this product.