When we were in Maine we used to get a weekly lamb delivered by Clayton Spinney. Clayton is and has many other stories, today I am interested in the young lamb, particularly the neck. One lamb, one neck. We used to braise the neck whole and then take the meat off the bone and roll it into a cylinder. We glazed the roulade with the braising liquid and served it with young marjoram, cantal enriched potatoes and garlic flavored spinach. The neck was sold as a special for two when we had it or in some cases became my dinner.
The lamb neck is, to my taste, the most decadent and under utilized piece of lamb. These days we have a new lamb supplier, Alan Higgins of Grass Roots Lamb. He has been able to supply us with lamb of all sorts from neck to belly to beautiful loins and most recently a brisket--currently a product we have not used though I for see lamb pastrami. Well, my tangents are many as i think about lamb, the product and the possibilities. What I have begun to learn over the years is in dealing with ingredients do the work now. Rather than braising lamb necks whole and then unrolling them, we have taken to brining them, removing them from the bone, fusing them together, sealing them in plastic bags, slowly cooking them, pressing them and finally portioning the finished product. I think our new process has some more steps, though the end result yields an incredibly flavorful, functional and versatile product. Once the lamb is prepared, we reseal them and freeze the prepared necks which we may then draw upon at anytime. The process involved upfront is now longer, though at the days end we have tremendous gains in usability and the delicious factor.