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Published August 23rd, 2017
Delicious summer barbecue fun on a stick
Lamb Saratoga Chops Photo Susie Iventosch

When I was a kid, my mom used to fix lamb "Saratogas" for us, especially during the summer barbecue season. I had completely forgotten about them, until something reminded me of them just lately and I tried to find them in the grocery store to no avail. We always enjoyed them and they were fun to eat, too, because it was a long piece of tender and tasty lamb wound into a spiral and held together by a thick wooden skewer. Things on skewers are always fun for kids - kind of like eating popsicles!
When I was unsuccessful in locating lamb Saratogas at my local stores, I decided to make them myself, and from my internet search, shoulder meat seemed to be the best part of the lamb to use. So, I picked up a few packages of lamb shoulder and lamb arm shoulder, cut the meat into strips, eliminating a bit of the fat, and fashioned my own Saratogas. Then, after marinating them overnight in a light vinaigrette and red wine with fresh herbs, we grilled them on the barbecue to medium rare. Eureka! This was exactly how I remembered them from all those years ago. What I later found out is that using the whole shoulder roast, and rolling it first before cutting and skewering it, is probably a lot easier.
Just when I thought I'd reinvented lamb Saratogas, I telephoned Diablo Foods to see if they had shoulder cuts or roasts that would be appropriate for our readers to purchase for making their own Saratogas, and lo and behold, they actually carry them in their meat department. They said the sirloin or shoulder meat are the best cuts to use. Making your own still may be a great idea, because the butcher told me they sell out of their pre-made Saratogas rather quickly.

Cooking Term of the Week
Lumache (pronounced loo-MAH-chay) is an Italian word for snail, and in the cooking world lumache refers to snail-shaped pasta shells that are open on one end and hollow inside, with the shell closing in on itself on the other end. Both thick and chunky sauces work well with lumache as the shell is strong enough to support a chunky sauce while a thinner, more delicate sauce can work its way into the open center of the shell.

Lamb Saratogas
Lamb Saratoga Chops Photo Susie Iventosch

(Serves 4 to 6)
2 pounds lamb sirloin or lamb shoulder meat, boneless if possible
1/3 cup olive oil
2-3 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/4 cup red wine
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tbsp. fresh rosemary snipped from stem and roughly chopped
1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves
1 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh mint, chopped (optional)
8-10 six-inch skewers about 1/8-inch thick
Mint sauce (Crosse & Blackwell makes this) or mint jelly to serve with meat
If you buy the whole shoulder roast or sirloin, roll the meat into a log, much like a jelly roll cake. You may be able to buy one already rolled. Insert the skewers through the roll every inch or so, and cut through the roll on either side of the skewers, to make about a 1-inch thick chop. If you buy the shoulder chops, you can cut long strips of meat from the chop, eliminating some of the fat and working around any bones, and roll them in a spiral much to the same effect as the log above. It may take more than one strip to make the finished chop 3-4 inches in diameter.
Place the Saratoga chops in a container with a tight-fitting lid.
Mix oil, vinegar, wine, salt, pepper and herbs for the marinade and pour over the chops. Cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight, turning at least a couple of times.
When ready to serve, remove lamb from marinade and grill to desired doneness. It may take a bit longer to get the very center cooked, so check it before you remove the meat from the grill.
Serve with mint sauce or mint jelly and garnish with a sprig of fresh rosemary or thyme.

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