Half the Lamb Freezer Mix
If you are are looking to reduce your family’s consumption of meat for any reason… budget, health, saving the planet, whatever floats your boat… here is a little time-saving make-ahead tool for your kitchen toolbelt. You can use this method with any ground or shredded meat, but this recipe showcases lamb. If in the spring you happen to find 100% grass-fed pasture raised ground lamb at half the price, this is a great way to utilize such a find and stretch your food budget even further!
Half the Lamb Freezer Mix
This is Cook Once – Eat Twice recipe. Feel free to double it up so you can have the makings for four quick-to-the-table flavorful meaty meals. One night it’s Ragu, another it becomes Shepherds Pie, Curry, or Sloppy Joe.
Incorporating beans and mushrooms keeps the texture nice and meaty. Flageolets, if you can get them, pair beautifully with lamb and make a nice addition to this mix. If you can’t find them, white northern beans work really well too. Lentils add interest and help to double the protein sources in the mix. Add to that the flavor enhancers that you would need for these recipes anyway and you will have most of your work done in advance! At dinner time, enjoy less work, less clean-up, more nutrition, and half the meat with all the flavor.
This recipe uses cumin, a warm earthy flavor that pairs beautifully with lamb and makes the mix flavor just a bit deeper. Very little cumin is used so as to not overpower the sauces you will add later. It just adds that little “something”.
Here is method #3 with a savory and minty Ragu over Fried Polenta. Umami! Over half of the “lamb” is veggies!!! You feed the whole family (4-6 servings) with only 8 oz of lamb.
Same Ingredients Three Ways
This mix works with any of these methods. Choose the one that your family prefers. #3 does hide most of the veggies though if your family likes them out of sight. Then when you add more veggies on the side, nobody feels meat deprived. 🙂
This mix is very chunky! Each flavor will burst through on its own making each bite a little different.
This one is my personal favorite. The lamb retains a bit more meatiness, and you get to enjoy the texture of the veggies.
This is my son’s favorite. You get all flavor with not-so-much visible vegetable, especially after you add it to a sauce. Just meatiness. The texture of the meat is less chewy. It becomes more like what you would get with a good meatball, softer but still meaty. By ounce it is still much more plant than meat, just a little more transformed.
Half the Lamb Freezer Mix
To follow will make two batches of freezer mix for two meals, yielding serving for 4-6 people each. If you enjoy this method, save yourself some time and double or triple up! The suggested beans pair well with lamb and the bit of cumin compliments the flavor without standing out on its own.
- cooking oil
- 1/2 cup diced onion or shallot (shallot if you prefer a milder flavor)
- 1/2 cup diced carrot
- 1/2 cup diced celery
- 8 oz mushrooms
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 lb. ground lamb
- 1/4 t ground cumin
- 1 cup cooked beans, flageolet or northern white beans
- 1/2 cup cooked lentils
- salt, to taste
If you are using dried beans, cook them! To make them more digestible, soak them in water first for at least an hour or overnight. Drain beans. Bring a pot of water to a boil and add your beans. No salt. Cook them until they are tender, not mushy. This may take an hour, give or take. Cook lentils the same way. Of course, they will cook much more quickly. Dried beans increase by about 2.5%. If you are going to the trouble to make beans, why not make extra and eat them in other dishes?
Method One: Super Chunky – for more, click on this post
Wash and dice all your veggies for quick cooking. In a lightly oiled skillet, saute onion, carrot, and celery until tender. Alternatively, you can quickly blanch your carrots and celery by dropping them in a pot of boiling water for just a couple of minutes to make them tender. Then strain them and throw them in with the onions. Stir and cook.
Add mushrooms to the skillet. When veggies are tender, stir in garlic and cook for a minute or so until it is a little fragrant. Garlic cooks quickly! Add lamb and cumin, breaking up lamb with your cooking spoon or spatula, and cook through. Add beans and lentils, breaking them up to your liking, or leave them whole. Salt and pepper to taste.
Method Two: Moderately Chunky – for more, click on this post
Prepare your veggies, washing and dicing them. Set aside. In a food processor or with a potato masher combine lamb with mushrooms, beans, lentils, cumin, and garlic until they are well combined. Set aside.
In a lightly oiled skillet, saute onion, carrot, and celery until tender. Alternatively, you can quickly blanch your carrots and celery by dropping them in a pot of boiling water for just a couple of minutes to make them tender. Then strain them and throw them in with the onions. Stir and cook. Add lamb mixture, breaking it up and stirring as you cook it through. Salt and pepper to taste.
Method Three: Fully Incorporated – for more, click on this post
Everything goes into a food processor! (except for cooking oil) Depending on the size of your processor, you may need to split your ingredients into two batches. First, add onions, celery, carrot, garlic, and mushrooms. Pulse a few times until you have a coarse chop, like rice. To keep some nice meaty texture, do not over process. Add the beans, lentils, and cumin (And a little salt and pepper, if desired. You can add more when you cook too.) Pulse a few more times to break up the beans. Add lamb meat and pulse until it is nicely incorporated.
In a lightly oiled skillet, cook the mixture, breaking it up and stirring gently so as not to turn it into one blob.
For all methods:
If needed, drain mix on paper towels. Split them into two even batches. Allow to cool a bit, then freeze them until you are ready to use them. Of course, you can make more batches at one time and have lots of mixes ready to go! Be sure to label your freezer containers.