The Next-Level Lamb Dishes at the 2019 Lamb Jam Finale

Including a spectacular Turkish-inspired lamb borek from this year’s champion

By Jasmine P. Ting

Published on October 9, 2019

The communal table for the 2019 Lamb Jam finale.

Despite lamb's many sterling attributes—cooked properly, it's tender and juicy, with all the savory, earthy complexity of an aged steak—the meat is still an underappreciated ingredient in the kitchen. In fact, nearly half of Americans have never even tried lamb. That's why every year, the American Lamb Board hosts Lamb Jam, an epic cooking competition celebrating lamb and honoring the 80,000 family-operated farms and ranches that raise sheep in the United States.

A multi-event tour, Lamb Jam stops at six different cities, where local chefs go head-to-head with their best lamb dishes. The 'Best in Show' winner from each city then moves on to the grand finale, which this year took place at the SAVEUR test kitchen in New York City.

The chefs competing in this year’s Lamb Jam final.

The 2019 finalists were a who's who of up-and-coming chefs across the country: Barrett Black of Black's BBQ in Austin, Liz Barwick of Sarma in Boston, Kitiya Ditpare of TacoThai in San Francisco, Dimitri Moshovitis of Cava in Washington, D.C., Heong Park of Chan in Seattle, and Brother Luck of Four by Brother Luck in Denver.

The chefs took over the SAVEUR test kitchen—and a couple of desks in the office—to recreate their qualifying dishes. Wine pairings for each course were provided by Wines of Germany, and whiskey from Garrison Brothers Distillery in Texas was poured throughout the evening. Guests were tasked with tasting each dish and casting their votes for the 2019 Lamb Jam champion. Check out the full menu below—and find out whose lamb dish stole the show!

The meal kicked off with chef Barwick’s Turkish smoked and roasted lamb shoulder, which was presented in a bowl-shaped, popover-like feta-and- lamb-fat borek, along with a corn ezme and plenty of fresh mint. Salty, fatty, sweet, and just a touch tangy from the white sauce, it was a strong start to the evening.
Next, chef Park served a deceptively simple lamb belly taco with pistachio mole verde and fermented chile aioli.
The condiments complemented the fatty meat, complete with a crispy, chicharrón-like crust, without overpowering its flavor.
The third course was chef Black’s smoked lamb and blue-corn masa cake, accompanied by Mexican coke mole sauce in an actual glass Coca-Cola bottle.
Next up was chef Ditpare’s southern Thai-style dry curry lamb ribs.
The subtly sweet coconut rice and refreshing pickled papaya served alongside were the perfect foils for the spicy, fall-off-the-bone-tender meat.
By the fourth course, it was clear that mole was the unofficial trend of the night. Chef Brother Luck served his take on the Mexican sauce atop a tostada made of fried taro and filled with Colorado lamb and pickled radish.
The final dish of the evening was chef Moshovitis’s spicy Szechuan lamb noodles, playfully presented in Chinese takeout containers.
The noodles also came with a sweet bonus: a chocolate bonbon filled with lamb-fat caramel.
After much passionate discussion across the table, the votes were counted, and a new Lamb Jam master announced: chef Liz Barwick!

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