Bob and Mary Pratt, who raise sheep, lamb, and hens for eggs on 150 acres in the Town of Easton (Washington County), attribute some of the unique flavor of their lamb and eggs to the high-quality pasture on which the animals feed.
“Pasture, plus some grain, means superior taste and tenderness in the lamb,” notes Mary Pratt, who handles the farm’s table at Saratoga Farmers’ Market year-round. “Our sheep and lambs graze pastures for three seasons or eat hay in the winter, as well as a small amount of locally grown grain.”
The Pratts have been farming in Easton since 1986, and have protected their farm through the Agricultural Stewardship Association, and their wetland through the Federal Wetlands Reserve. They have never used growth promoting substances like hormones or low levels of antibiotics, and have never fed animal byproducts.
“When you practice sustainable animal husbandry, you are rewarded with healthier animals and better tasting products,” remarks Bob Pratt. The customers at the market seem to agree, as they flock to Elihu Farm’s table on Wednesdays and Saturdays, asking Mary advice on different and preparation techniques, and returning a week later with stories of culinary triumphs.
The farm’s market coolers stock lamb in many forms, from chops to ground lamb, as well as ground mutton and three flavors of mutton sausage. Right now, the farm is also selling frozen duck, and will soon offer fresh ones.
“Many different world cuisines feature lamb,” notes Mary Pratt, “from France to North Africa, and Italy and Ireland.”
In addition to lamb, Elihu Farm is one of several vendors at the market selling fresh eggs. Rounding out this farm’s diverse product offerings, at various times of the year Elihu Farm has duck (summer and fall) and goose (fall and winter holidays). Mary Pratt will take orders for holiday season goose and winter egg shares any time.
Lamb Osso Bucco
Adapted from From the Earth to the Table by John Ash
Notes: This recipe expands easily to feed a crowd. The garnish, called gremolata, is essential for the success of this dish. Nearly all the ingredients for this dish are available at the Saratoga Farmers’ Market.
4 cracked Elihu Farm lamb shanks
Flour for dredging the shanks
Olive oil for sautéing
2 cups chopped (½”) yellow onions
2 chopped (½”) sweet red peppers, chopped
3 cups chopped plum tomatoes
1 cup diced celery (optional)
1 cup sliced carrots (optional)
½-1 tsp chopped hot pepper, or ¼ – ½ tsp dried Arbol pepper flakes
2 tbsp chopped garlic
2 cups lamb or chicken stock (homemade if possible)
1 cup dry red wine
1/3 cup Kalamata or other black olives (not canned), pits removed, sliced or whole
1 tbsp fennel seed
½ tbsp minced fresh oregano, or ½ tsp dried
¾ tsp minced fresh thyme, or 1/3 tsp dried
Before serving, make the gremolata. Combine equal quantities (such as 2 tsp) of grated lemon zest, minced fresh parsley, and minced garlic.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. While the oven is heating, dredge the lamb shanks in flour, then sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
In a large casserole or Dutch oven, sauté until lightly browned the onions, sweet red peppers, and optional celery and carrots in olive oil, one or two vegetables at a time, and set aside. Saute the garlic and hot pepper and add to the vegetables.
Clean the pan if needed, and sauté the lamb shanks in more olive oil until lightly browned.
To the lamb shanks, add the vegetables, tomatoes, stock, wine, olives and fennel seed.
Cover and bake for about 2 hours, adjusting the heat so the liquid is bubbling gently. Remove the cover, and bake for 30 minutes more, or until the shanks are very tender.
Remove the vegetables and shanks, and set aside. Degrease the braising liquid if necessary. Add the oregano and thyme, and cook over high heat until the liquid forms a light sauce. Return all ingredients to the sauce.
Serve in large soup bowls. Sprinkle each bowl with gremolata (garnish).