Chili

Incredible Spring Lamb from Anderson Ranches and Don Watson



Easter and Passover are both coming up in a few short weeks. is  If you’re planning to serve traditional lamb as part of your celebrations (or if you just want to try a truly special meat option), stop by our Markets to talk to the folks behind the Deli or Butcher counters. We have some of the best lamb available, and are here to provide you with just the right cut and help out with cooking and serving tips.

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Anderson Ranches’ heard of lambs

I buy lamb year-round from Anderson Ranches out of Oregon. These guys were recommended to me by our great local friend and lamb expert Don Watson. The Anderson folks have been raising grass-fed lamb for five generations and they know what they’re doing. The lambs are fed on a strict diet of 100% grass, which means their meat is lower in fat and healthier for humans. Unusual for this lamb ranchers, Anderson owns their own processing facility, which means that they can oversee every aspect of their production without outsourcing to a third party. The result of all of this is that they consistently turn out a delicious lamb with total transparency in raising and processing that is an excellent option for a traditional Easter or Passover dish.

For something different and excitingly off-beat, we have another option available this spring. The above-mentioned Don Watson is an excellent lamb farmer in his own right, albeit it on a smaller scale. One of my favorite products that we get from Don is milk-fed spring lamb, which is only available at this time of year, typically just for the month of April. Milk-fed lamb tends to be hard to find in the United States because it is not economical to cultivate on a large scale. Fortunately for us, Don is doing it on just about the smallest scale possible, personally overseeing his small herd of lambs (with the help of his expert Peruvian lamb-herders) and exemplifying the sort of local producer that we love working with. Don’s Napa Valley-based herd lives on the grounds of the Infineon Raceway, saving on the cost and environmental impact of lawnmowers by munching on the grass and keeping the Raceway grounds in good condition.

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Don with his herd of lambs

Don’s milk-fed lambs, which have been described by the New York Times as, “some of the best milk-fed lambs on the planet,” are only available in the spring. They are harvested right at the stage when they’re about to be weaned off of mother’s milk, so they have never had any other form of sustenance pass through their systems. This produces a sublime tenderness and distinctly mild flavor.

We love working with Don because of his sustainable, hands-on approaching to raising livestock and doing business. When the season is right, Don hand-delivers lamb to us every week, and since these are peak-of-the-season animals, their availability is limited. We won’t have milk-fed spring lamb for very long after April, so it’s worth coming by now to pick some up. Or better yet, if you want to play it safe, give us a call! We’d be happy to set some lamb aside for you to help make sure that your celebrations or any meal you want to cook with lamb is a stunning success.

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