You never know where the Locavore trail is going to take me. This month I've discovered a new family-run lamb and sheep farm right in our own backyard.
Craig and Nora Simpson, owners of Hi Ho Sheep Farm, raise and produce great tasting, local lamb for consumers. The family moved here from Colorado last fall and lucky for us, they brought along the business they established back in 1998. I recently sat down with the Simpsons to discuss their move from the Rocky Mountain State to the Show-Me State and the new farm. I discovered a couple passionate about providing a quality, locally grown and produced product and serving as true stewards of the land.
Hi Ho Sheep Farm delivers great tasting lamb by relying on the skills of small, local farmers like the Simpsons who tailor their practices to the needs of their lambs.
"The lambs eat a balanced diet of grass, hay and grain," says Craig. "They get fresh air and exercise in their pastures, but still have shelter to rest out of the elements. Lambs are harvested at 5 to 11 months of age to keep the meat tender and mild. All of this to bring consumers the best-tasting lamb possible."
Talk about commitment. Plus the fact that lamb contains more important vitamins, minerals, and essential amino acids than beef makes it a healthy mealtime alternative. I feel good already.
Hi Ho Sheep are fed alfalfa, hay and grain mix and are raised locally so they don't lose flavor and consume fuel by traveling across the country or around the world. "When you buy from Hi Ho Sheep Farm you know your lamb came from a neighbor, not another continent," says Nora. "Sheep are given free access to pastures as conditions permit and are fed absolutely no hormones and use no chemicals or preservatives."
Hi Ho Sheep Farm is on 20 idyllic acres just east of Lee's Summit. Nora is a veterinarian and Craig is an engineer and they work off the farm with their three daughters. In addition to lamb meat, the family sells wool and lambskins.
Hi Ho Sheep Farm offers a variety of cuts available from stew meat and loin, to chops and shanks, all at a reasonable price. I can think of so many recipes to prepare lamb but I remember every spring my Nana would prepare delicious little chops on the grill. The succulent lamb chops would marinate in balsamic and garlic and a little bit of red pepper. My three brothers and I would eat those chops faster than my Dad could grill them!
Order some delicious lamb from Hi Ho Sheep and fire up the grill to enjoy this generations-old Mirabile recipe, just in time for spring.
For more information, visit www.hihosheep.com
words: Jasper Mirabile, Jr.
Nana Mirabile's Lamb Chops
2-3 lamb racks (about 3 pounds, or 12 chops)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Salt to taste
5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4-5 sprigs fresh mint
2-3 cloves garlic, sliced paper thin
½ cup mint jelly
One day ahead: If your butcher hasn't already, cut the racks into chops, using a cleaver if
necessary to separate the chine bone. Lay out the chops in a shallow casserole. Drizzle the
juice from the lime on the chops.
1. Mix the brown sugar, salt, and balsamic vinegar with half of the olive oil.
2. Chop 2 of the mint sprigs coarsely and add to this marinade.
3. Pour the marinade over the chops, turning each to get them thoroughly coated. Marinate 4-5 hours.
4. Prepare grill. While the grill is warming up, mix the rest of the olive oil with the mint jelly and garlic.
5. Place the chops on the grill, being careful not to crowd your surface area. Grill them in batches if necessary.
6. Baste each side with the mint sauce (Nana used to use a mint sprig to baste with).
Cook approximately 5 minutes on each side, or to desired doneness.
7. Serve immediately with remaining basting sauce for dipping.