Umpqua Valley Lamb

Taste September 2015

plate of lamb chops and grilled lemon

Since the mid-1990s, Umpqua Valley Lamb has supplied our stores with fresh lamb raised on sustainable pastures in southwest Oregon. PCC’s direct relationship with this small ranching cooperative (just four families are involved) has allowed our meat departments to place weekly orders, so the meat is always tender, flavorful and incredibly fresh.

Grass-fed lamb has a milder flavor than grain-fed, in part because it’s leaner and the fat is where intense flavors tend to collect. There are also fundamental nutritional differences between grass-fed and grain-fed meats: higher levels of omega-3 fats; more vitamin E, beta carotene and B vitamins; and more conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA, a unique fatty acid that is the current focus of many encouraging health studies.

Lamb is also a terrifically versatile meat. At its easiest, just pick up some of our top-selling Garlic and Herb Lamb Patties from our Natural Express line; they use deliciously rich ground lamb that are an ideal base for a Mediterranean meal. Or grab a few chops and fire up the grill — the loin chops have been called “the lamb’s answer to Porterhouse steaks” while rib chops are the tender, elegant chop found most commonly at restaurants.

 

Grilled Lamb Chops with Olive Tapenade

Olives are a key flavor component on these chops, so use delicious ones like Niçoise, Kalamata and Castelvetrano. Get the recipe.

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