(Family Features) Barbecue, grilling, cookout – no matter what you call it, cooking food over an open flame is practically an American pastime. Few other cuisines have such distinctive regional twists and terminology as this fiery favorite. Memphis loves its ribs, North Carolinians their pulled meats and Texas, Alabama and St. Louis, to name a few, have their own riffs on American favorites.
While each regional barbecue favorite is traditionally prepared with beef or pork, more adventurous eaters can adopt the same cooking and flavor techniques but use lamb instead. Swapping proteins doesn’t need to be difficult. For example, Californians who like tri-tip can recreate that Santa Maria-style flavor by mixing together salt, pepper, garlic and dried herbs to dry brine a boneless leg of lamb for 24 hours then grill it to their preferred doneness.
Before it makes it to your table, American lamb is raised by dedicated farmers and ranchers with a shared connection to the land, the animals and the local communities they serve. There are more than 80,000 family farmers and ranchers caring for more than 6 million sheep in both small flocks and large operations throughout the United States. American lamb is available year-round and cuts range from loins and shanks to chops and roasts.
If you’re feeling adventurous, try these riffs on classic barbecue dishes featuring American lamb. For more tantalizing recipes, visit AmericanLamb.com.
Tender lamb riblets (also known as spare ribs) are sweet and tender when slow-cooked on the grill. These Memphis-style ribs are suffused with a spicy-sweet dry rub, smoked to perfection and brushed with a tangy yet spicy Memphis-style barbecue sauce.
This tender pulled smoked lamb shoulder is rubbed with fragrant citrus, aromatics and spices then smoked until falling off the bone. It’s served with a spicy citrus and vinegar sauce, a crunchy, creamy fennel and herb slaw, and grilled flatbreads.
Lamb kabobs are a straightforward, flavorful dish perfect for a relaxed cookout. Bite-sized pieces of boneless leg of lamb are marinated in a yogurt-garlic mix and grilled with red onions until smoky and tender. Serve kabobs with a classic tzatziki and grilled flatbreads.
Lamb’s unique flavor does wonderfully with just a little char from the grill, making it an excellent choice for burgers. A hint of red onion, garlic powder and sea salt play up hearty taste, while a simple roasted garlic and rosemary spread lends a creamy, herbaceous counterpoint.
Grilling a whole leg of lamb is a celebratory act and is the perfect centerpiece for an evening spent outdoors. Inspired by Texas-style barbecue, this recipe features a dry rub with toasted spices, vibrant paprika and plenty of kick. This dish is best accompanied by thick-cut toast and your favorite sides.
Few cuts of meat are as satisfying as perfectly grilled lamb loin chops with a crispy exterior that gives way to meltingly tender meat. The distinctive flavor of lamb chops – rich with an edge of earthiness – is highlighted beautifully by a refreshing Italian-style salsa verde and grilled lemon halves. Grilled vegetables, dressed simply with olive oil, sea salt and a squeeze of lemon, are an ideal side.
Source: American Lamb Board
(Family Features) When people think of barbecues, many think of foods loaded with fat, salt and sugar, which can seem challenging if you are trying to eat healthy. However, it is possible - and easier than you think - to host a balanced cookout with nutritious options, without sacrificing flavor or quality.
Smithfield nutritionist Erin Thacker, MA, RDN, recommends these tips for hosting a backyard barbecue that will leave your guests healthy and happy:
- Stick to lean protein: fresh pork cuts such as sirloins, tenderloins, boneless loins and chops are packed with protein and contain key nutrients like vitamin B6, thiamin, phosphorus, niacin, potassium, riboflavin and zinc. Smithfield fresh pork tenderloins and boneless sirloin roasts are even certified by the American Heart Association* as heart-healthy foods.
- Layer on fruits and veggies: grilled vegetables make for a quick and delicious side dish, and grilled fruits are a health-conscious way to end the meal on a lighter note.
- Lighten up: swap mayonnaise and heavy creams for Greek yogurt and vinegars, and opt for homemade dressings or sauces instead of store-bought condiments, which often have high sugar contents.
Try these simple, dietitian-approved recipes for Grilled Fresh Pork and Veggies with Lemon or Sweet and Spicy Fresh Pork Mini Kebabs. For more healthy and great-tasting recipe ideas, visit Smithfield.com.
Grilled Fresh Pork and Veggies with Lemon
Prep time: 8 minutes
Cook time: 22 minutes
- 1 Smithfield Fresh Pork Tenderloin, cut into four thick slices
- 2 teaspoons garlic pepper
- 1 zucchini squash, cut in half lengthwise
- 1 yellow summer squash, cut in half lengthwise
- 1 large portobello mushroom
- 1/2 large red bell pepper, cut in half lengthwise and flattened
- 1/2 large red onion, cut into slices
- 1 lemon, cut in half
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Heat charcoal or gas grill to medium-high. Season fresh pork slices with garlic pepper; grill about 5 minutes per side until internal temperature reaches 145-160° F.
- Brush both sides of zucchini squash, yellow squash, mushroom, pepper and onion, plus cut sides of lemon, with oil.
- Grill vegetables for 10 minutes, turning occasionally. Add lemon to grill, cut-side down, and cook additional 2 minutes.
- Place vegetables and lemon on cutting board; coarsely chop vegetables. Serve with fresh pork slices on top; squeeze lemon over meat.
Nutritional information per serving: 200 calories; 6 g total fat; 1 g saturated fat; 75 mg cholesterol; 75 mg sodium; 8 g total carbohydrates; 2 g dietary fiber; 4 g sugars; 30 g protein.
Sweet and Spicy Fresh Pork Mini Kebabs
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Servings: 16 kebabs
- 1 Smithfield Roasted Garlic and Cracked Black Pepper Marinated Fresh Pork Sirloin, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1/2 pineapple, cored and cut into 16 (1-inch) cubes
- 2 red bell peppers, cut into 16 (1-inch) pieces
- 16 bamboo skewers (6 inches), soaked in water and drained
- 2/3 cup honey
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Caribbean jerk seasoning
- Heat gas or charcoal grill to medium-high.
- Thread two pieces of fresh pork sirloin, one pineapple cube and one red pepper piece onto each skewer. Wrap exposed end of skewer with foil to discourage scorching.
- Mix honey, vinegar and jerk seasoning together for glaze.
- Grill kebabs approximately 10 minutes, turning occasionally, until fresh pork reaches internal temperature of 145° F and then rest for 3 minutes. Generously brush kebabs with glaze during last 2-3 minutes.
Nutritional information per serving: 80 calories; 1 g total fat; 0 g saturated fat; 20 mg cholesterol; 90 mg sodium; 12 g total carbohydrates; 1 g dietary fiber; 9 g sugars; 8 g protein.
*Information and recipes not provided by the American Heart Association unless expressly stated.
- 1 11 x 9 x 2 3/8-inch aluminum foil baking pan
- 2 to 3 beers
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 medium yellow or white onion, sliced
- Put pan on hot grill.
- Pour in beer then add butter and onions. Grill brats to juicy, golden-brown perfection.
- Serve immediately and place any remaining brats into steaming hot tub.
Yield 5 servings