If you got to spend any time at all outdoors on Thursday, you know that the tide has turned. It's springtime, and barring any late-season blizzards or bone-chilling cold, it's time for a little spring cleaning.
It's time to catch up with some odds and ends that haven't made it into this space in recent months. If you've wondered why you haven't seen this column lately, it's because we've had so many local activities to report about. Havre and the Hi-Line have an abundance of local artists and performers and activities, and this Arts & Entertainment page is dedicated to showcasing that news. There's only so much room left for news once the ads are placed on the page. With limited space available, it's best you read about the accomplishments of local folks than my meanderings.
That being said, let's get back to spring cleaning.
I launched spring by butchering a lamb born last year. My freezer holds 2-inch chops and one-person-size roasts. I have stew meat and steaks.
Not having grown up on the Hi-Line, I don't have an aversion to lamb that some old-timers do. Familiarity in their case caused contempt. Foods you're forced to eat often begin not to taste so great.
In honor of those old-timers, I've looked for recipes that use lamb to create a new taste.
Here's one example that I really like. It's from "Italian Cooking: The Definitive Encyclopedia of Fabulous Italian Food."
Lamb stewed with tomatoes and garlic
2 large cloves garlic
1 sprig fresh rosemary or 3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
6 tbsp olive oil
2 lbs. stewing lamb cut into chunks
flour seasoned with freshly ground pepper
cup dry white wine
2 tsp salt
1 lb. fresh tomatoes, chopped, or 14-oz. can tomatoes
cup meat broth, heated
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chop garlic with parsley if using. Heat 4 tbsp oil in wide casserole. Add the garlic and rosemary or parsley and cook over moderate heat until garlic is golden. Dredge lamb in flour. Brown lamb in one layer and remove to side dish; add more oil if needed and brown remaining lamb. When it's all done, put it back in the casserole with the wine. Bring wine to a boil and scrape residue from the bottom. Sprinkle with salt. Stir in tomatoes and broth. Stir well. Cover and bake for 1 to 2 hours.
Here's another recipe I've been wanting to share. While pheasant season is over, hopefully this recipe will be one you'll use on birds you've frozen, or you'll save it for when they're fresh. It's courtesy of John Kuglin, bureau chief of The Associated Press in Helena. He travels to the Havre area regularly for bird hunting and he swears this recipe can render that sometimes stringy bird into "the king of game birds."
Recipe for overshot pheasant
Two 1- to 2-pound skinned or plucked pheasants. Don't cook them with the heads.
2 small onions
2 stalks celery with leaves
4 thick slices of bacon (2 for each bird)
2 tbsp ketchup
cup currant jelly
2 tbsp (cheap) port or other red wine
Sprinkle cavity of each pheasant with salt and pepper; place 1 onion and 1 celery stalk in each. Firmly tie legs together with string. Place birds in open roasting pan or dish. Completely cover breasts and legs with bacon, securing bacon if necessary with toothpicks.
Roast birds in oven at 375 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until they are tender. Do NOT overcook. Baste occasionally so breasts and legs don't dry out.
While birds are roasting, use a whisk to beat a sauce of ketchup, cheap wine, currant jelly and Worchestershire. Carefully simmer sauce before serving.
Just in case you've forgotten, Saturday night is really something to look forward to. The Fresno Chapter of Walleyes Unlimited is putting on its annual banquet at the Vets Club. This is truly one of the most fun social events you can go to. And the walleye recipe, previously featured in this column, is great.