27 Feb2012

The experiment for the week? A “lechon carnero” or whole roasted lamb! I have been waiting for months for the call from S&L Fine Foods that their young lambs from T&R Pastoral, Australia have arrived and the call finally came a couple of weeks ago! I have never roasted a whole lamb before, so this should be an interesting and possibly disastrous experiment… :)

The arrival of the large container of frozen lamb coincided with the opening of Sinan’s Butchery, right next door to La Brera and S&L Fine Foods, Inc. on Yakal Street in Makati. I like S&L a lot, both for personal consumption and for ingredients at Zubufoods, Inc. The combination of products, prices and service keep me coming back for more, hence their frequent mention on this blog… If you are curious, check out the new Sinan’s Butchery at the G/F Great Wall Building, 136 Yakal Street, San Antonio Village, Makati 1203. Telephone 632.846.0368.

A photo of the front of S&L, for folks who have been emailing me asking where it was and how it looked from the street. :)

At the moment, the butchery carries an amazing selection of cuts of excellent quality American beef from two main suppliers, Meyer Farms and the Nebraska Beef Company. They also carry lamb from Australia. According to Sinan, the proprietor, they are working on sources for chicken, duck and turkey as well. The meat cases are gleaming… the ribs, the osso buco, the t-bones… :)

And with real trained butchers on hand, you can have the meat cut to your specifications. If there is one thing that annoys me in groceries, it is the pre-cut meat/steaks that are a ridiculously thin (1/2 inch in many cases). At Sinan’s I purchased, porterhouses that were 2+ inches thick (and could have been thicker if desired), short ribs cut to my specs, really nice frenched lamb chops, etc.

These were the short ribs in original form…

…and cut up for slow braising that yielded an utterly spectacular stew. The best short ribs I have purchased in Manila in the past 10 years, definitely.

These are lamb’s kidneys and I have never tried cooking them before, so that will be another experiment…

Most customers would not be allowed in this inner cold room where carcasses are broken down with modern slicers, etc. And you have to wear plastic booties to cover your shoes, and a hat (which they forgot to remind to do on this visit) — but I was invited in to see the lamb that I was going to purchase, have shipped to Cebu, and experiment with roasting sometime this week. The lamb is sans head, and is sliced down it’s belly, so I don’t think this is going to be stuffed… more like basted with rosemary and garlic and olive oil perhaps… on a slow fire for several hours.

There were hundreds of whole lamb in the butchery’s freezers, and while you may not think locals consume much lamb, this stockpile will probably run out in a matter of weeks…

I have been consulting my cookbooks and can’t seem to find many recipes for roasting a whole lamb… I suppose it isn’t a common dish to do at home. If you have any great tips, please let me know. And yes, I will do a post on the roast lamb, triumph or disaster, later this week… :)



  1. Josephine says:

    I did a whole lamb for Easter 2 years ago, ordered from my local butcher. But it was a baby, not nearly the size of beast you are looking at. I spiked it with lots of garlic, stuffed herbs in the cavity (rosemary, bay and thyme) and massaged it with lots of olive oil and the secret ingredient piment d’espelette from the Basque country – paprika is a good substitute. It cooked extremely well in the Weber over indirect coals, with of course a tray underneath to catch the delicious juices which were also used to baste. However, with a bigger beast, in Australia friends used to hire a turnspit, so treat it just like a lechon, although maybe use a gentler fire, or keep it further from the coals…

    Feb 27, 2012 | 7:01 am


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  3. Artisan Chocolatier says:

    YUMMY!!!! :-)

    Feb 27, 2012 | 7:25 am

  4. PITS, MANILA says:

    have never roasted lamb (or any whole carcass), and i’ve never had it. just the usual lamb-chops in butter and rosemary dipped in kikkoman soy sauce (favorite of the boys here), and lamb-calderetta which is mine. now eagerly waiting for your results, MM!

    Feb 27, 2012 | 7:37 am

  5. Shalimar says:

    Makes me want to be home in Greece for the Easter.

    Feb 27, 2012 | 7:49 am

  6. Gerry says:

    I wonder how much subcutaneous fat this lamb has compared to a pig ready for lechon? If the lamb has substantially less fat, then a lower fire and basting with oil will probably help. I presume the skin will be pricked, but maybe leaving a small patch of unpricked skin will be good to be able to do a comparison.

    Reminds me of the time we cooked a hybrid piglet like a cochinillo. Cooking it directly in the oven like a native piglet was a disaster. The skin didn’t crisp up at all. In the second attempt, we steamed the pig first then baked it. The results were better, but still not as good as the more expensive native piglets.

    Feb 27, 2012 | 7:59 am

  7. GT says:

    MM try the middle eastern methods together with the rice stuffing,its called quzi or oozi. The moroccan version is called mechoui. I believe they are slow cooked. My experience with it is limited to a smoke/roasted version over mild heat for 6 hours. It is seasoned simply with salt, pepper and a little paprika. The smoker makes the difference. Enjoy your lamb!!

    Feb 27, 2012 | 8:30 am

  8. present tense says:

    salt, pepper, mustard, and garlic worked for a leg. not sure about a whole carcass though

    Feb 27, 2012 | 9:33 am

  9. wil-b says:

    WOW. . . It’s always hard to look for fine meat here, I never knew about Sinan since last week, saw it when we we’re driving around. . . need to visit the shop soon :D

    Feb 27, 2012 | 10:39 am

  10. Marketman says:

    Hi everyone, so far, I am leaning to a 6-7 hour slow roast over a 300-325 charcoal fire, turned on a bamboo pole like a lechon… hopefully with drip pan below, charcoal to the sides, indirect heat… for seasonings so far, rosemary, garlic, olive oil, lemons, oregano…

    Feb 27, 2012 | 12:59 pm

  11. ayen says:

    MM, do you recall how much the steaks cost? i’m also looking for a good source of lamb chops for simple grilling

    Feb 27, 2012 | 2:44 pm

  12. edwinalco says:

    We always call on Robert to roast whole lamb for the family. He brings the lamb pre-marinated already. He also brings his own motorized charcoal pit. The results are delicious sepcailly if it’s a small lamb.

    Feb 27, 2012 | 3:52 pm

  13. edwinalco says:

    Robert’s phone no. 02-2790556

    Feb 27, 2012 | 3:53 pm

  14. Sharon says:

    MarketMan, I googled “Greek lamb on a spit” and came up with: http://www.ultimate-guide-to-greek-food.com/lamb.html – and there are a few other links. Your seasonings of rosemary, garlic, olive oil, lemons and oregano are pretty spot-on by the looks of things…

    Feb 27, 2012 | 6:39 pm

  15. KUMAGCOW says:

    I think lamb will probably end up dry because of the lack of fat unlike pork. But here’s wishing another good experiment for MM and his crew!

    Feb 27, 2012 | 11:18 pm

  16. Part Time Homemaker says:

    I will make a trip to S&L very soon for sure…you had me at the picture of the short ribs MM and the mention of the frenched lamb chops!!! I know nothing about roasting a whole lamb, but I’m definitely excited to see the results of your delicious experiment! :)

    Feb 27, 2012 | 11:39 pm

  17. PJ says:

    can’t wait for the results. i wish to do one for my wedding :)

    Feb 28, 2012 | 1:39 am

  18. Stewart L. Sy says:

    I actually purchase fresh lamb from an organic farmer who raises them in the Okanagan Valley and brings orders into Vancouver during the summer. I did try a whole lamb once but it proved to be a touch too big for my grill and did an experiment, we cooked the rear half over indirect heat with smoke pouches and the front half (sans head) slow roasted in the over. I kept the flavoring simple, olive oil, crushed garlic, rosemary, salt and pepper. I think we cooked the halves for around 3 hours. The oven cooked one came out wonderfully tender, juicy and gorgeously medium rare in the right spots, the one in the grill was similar but had that wonderful smoky taste from the wood chip pouches. I’m sure your lechon chef’s will be able to make an amazing dish from that carcass.


    Feb 28, 2012 | 6:42 am

  19. Dreaming says:

    Roast Lamb! Yum! You have awakened my good memories of our dinner parties in Malaysia, where we roasted lambs on a spit in our garden. Let us know how it tastes.

    Feb 28, 2012 | 7:43 am

  20. quiapo says:

    Feb 28, 2012 | 8:37 am

  21. susie b says:

    Quiapo, the Argentinian parillada with vertical lamb..fabulous stuff! MM, looking forward to the results of your experiment. Went to go to S&L yesterday while in Manila for some blood work but ran out of time. T wants me to get lamb neck, which I saw last time. Memories of Lancashire Hot Pot arecalling out to him, apparently!

    Feb 29, 2012 | 11:05 am

  22. Betchay says:

    Shucks… I missed you in Cebu! Just got back last night and finally got to taste Zubuchon! my son and I went to your Mango branch for lunch and it was almost full.Verdict?….I like the fresh taste of your lechon and hands down rated 10 for tenderness of the meat.The skin was crunchy and I was surprised that it was thin– literally skin only without fat underneath as with other lechons…well, I am not complaining as it is “more healthy”! I like that your serving for the fast meal was generous.Wolfed down singlehandedly, the generously topped ensaladang talong.And the iba shake was the best!Thumbs up for the chicharon– not too salty and no rancid taste.A tablespoon of your kalamansi marmalade is enough for my dessert! ;)
    On a side note, I’d like to comment on the mixed reactions of others who are saying Zubuchon is not Cebu Lechon…maybe yes if your palate is accustomed to the salty/MSG laden “other” lechons but I am happy that MM gave us an alternative, a healthy one.Ok, call it gourmet lechon, sosyal na lechon but… I like it… so I bought frozen lechon at Zubu airport stall to bring home :)
    Unlike other tourists who go to Cebu for the beach, we were inspired by your write ups on the old churches of Cebu so we opted for a cultural tour and literally traced the coast line of South Cebu from Carcar down to Santander and back to Carcar via Sambuan to view the old churches and Spanish watchtowers along the way.The facade of Argao Church impressed me the most as well as it’s painted ceilings like the one in Dalaguete. But Boljoon was the most postcard perfect–the view of the sea and the mountains was breathtaking!We also went North to Liloan(loved the view from the light house!) and Danao.Napa aga ang Bisita iglesia namin! Cebuanos are very religious pala with several shrines.We went to Theotokos but our mouths dropped when we went to Simala in Sibonga!
    Sorry, I’m rambling.We really enjoyed our 3 days stay in Cebu.Hope to come back soon and try the beaches and probably have a close encounter with Butandings at Oslob?just curious:Are you for or against this Butandings encounter?

    Feb 29, 2012 | 5:29 pm

  23. Erwin says:

    Sir try this Kokoretsi for the innards of the lamb. looks appetizing.


    Aug 3, 2012 | 6:50 pm


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