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Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Free Lambs Heads and What I Did With Them

This post contains graphic pictures of lambs heads. You have been warned. Don't read on if you will get grossed out by pictures.


I recently had a conversation with someone about veganism, or rather, why I have no plans on ever being a vegan. I've written about it here before on my blog, but while I care about animals wellbeing, I put my own health and wellbeing above animals, and my body needs animal meat to be healthy. In an ideal world, I'd either grow my own free range animals which I then slaughter humanely, or I'd be a hunter using either a rifle or a crossbow with lighted nocks hunting the truly free range animals. Or buying meat from people who do the same with their meat. But unfortunately, my finances and life circumstances do not allow me to do that.

 So I get my meat the conventional way. The supermarket. But because I do, after all, care about animals' lives and acknowledge that they die for me to nourish my body, I try my best to make sure to use the entire animal and not to let any part of the animal go to waste, so that if it does die to feed us, at least I won't take part in wasting it. This means that I will eat the "weird bits" from animals, and think it is especially important to do so. Even and especially if other people think it's "gross".



Recently, my supermarket announced that they had free frozen lamb heads to give away, and I told them that I was happy to take as many as they wanted to give me, so I got a delivery of 11 lamb head halfs, prepared for cooking (skin removed, ears removed, brain removed), and I wanted to share with you what I did with them.

First off, lambs heads don't have so much meat on them, but the meat that they do have on them is absolutely delicious, in my opinion. And their bones and collagen make extremely delicious, not to mention nutritious, bone broth.


I started off by taking 7 of the lamb head halves and putting them into a large stock pot I have. (It is one that I originally bought for water bath canning so it is extra large.) I then boiled it to death.


In retrospect, I should have boiled it for less time, then taken the meat off the bones, then returned the bones to the pot for more boiling time. But since I didn't, I cooked the heads until the heads were disintegrating (about 36 hours altogether), it just made more work for me, and ended up with a little more wasted meat.


Once I had boiled the heads, I strained out the heads and set aside the broth. I then boiled the broth down so it would be very concentrated and easier to store (because I don't need my freezer space filled up with the water I can add after the fact). I put them in little bags of super concentrated broth to freeze.

I let the lamb heads cool off on a baking tray. Once cool enough to handle, I separated the meat off the bones, making one bowl of bones and one for the meat.


Because I boiled the meat so much that the bones disintegrated, at the bottom of the original pot there were bits of meat mixed with bits of bone that I separated painstakingly. I took bits of meat and rinsed them in water, which got the heavier bone and bone bits to sink down to the bottom. I couldn't sort out the very last and smallest bits, which I ended up giving to my dog.

Once I had the boneless meat, I went through I removed the parts I didn't want to be eating. Remember how I said I eat the weird bits? Even so, there are parts that I won't eat, because I don't want to eat anything unpleasant to the touch or taste. The heads had quite a bit of tongue on them, and tongue has a hard layer you peel off. I removed that and gave that to the dog. The lips have a very hard outside layer which I removed and gave to the dog. There were small bits, I am not sure what from, that had a bit of fur on them. That also went to the dog. And the eyeball? Oh, I eat the eyeball. It's terrific and has a wonderful soft smooth and creamy texture. But eyeballs do have a little hard bit inside them which I removed.


That's it. Altogether, there probably were 3-4 tablespoons of meat parts I removed.

And 6 cups of lamb meat.

I'm not sure how many cups of broth because I really, really, really concentrated it. But lets just assume its enough for 8 large pots of soup.

What now? Well, first I took the meat and shredded it up so it more or less had all the same texture.


I then cooked up some leek and peppers and added a bunch of the meat to it along with cumin and homemade chili powder, and salt and a drop of liquid, then cooked it some more to absorb the flavor.

I used these to make lamb tacos which were unbelieavably out of this world, probably the best tacos I ever had. My eldest, Lee, who doesn't like "weird bits" of meat enjoyed this so much, and pronounced it "too good to eat".


I also made it into burrito bowls for myself.

I learned from my friend Enrique that these tacos are similar to traditional barbacoas, generally made with beef head, but sometimes also lamb heads. Those generally are roasted while mine were boiled, but still amazing.

With some of the broth I made a pot of delicious lamb pho, more or less using this recipe for beef pho, only with lamb broth and meat instead. Totally doing this again.

And then I decided to try to make something called scrapple, usually made with pork heads and cornmeal, served with maple syrup.

I'm going to share how I made it soon, but I just wanted to share that my lamb version came out terrific.


My fridge currently has no more lamb meat that isn't in the scrapple, but my freezer is filled with lamb broth and 4 more heads that I am excited to play around with.

Sometimes, the best things in life are free.

Yes, it was a decent amount of work, but I'm fine putting in a bit of work for something so delicious, healthy, and eliminating waste. (And it would have been far less work if I didn't overcook the bones before separating them from the meat!)

Have you ever prepared animal heads before? How did you prepare them? What would you suggest I do with the rest of my lamb heads?
If the concept of lamb heads gross you out, would you eat food made with heads once they no longer looked like heads?

7 comments:

  1. Andrew Zimmern would be proud of you.

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  2. Thank you for sharing and showing every part of the animal can be used for something.

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  3. I really enjoyed reading how you prepared this meat. The Taco's looked Yummy!

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  4. I think you're amazing! I would eat them if you prepared them. ;)

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  5. The eye ball though, oh man! You're quite adventurous something to be proud of. I love lamb but no heads to be seen where I live but should I ever be given free heads now I know what to do thanks to you!

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  6. Here in Tunisia, lamb heads are considered one of the best part of the animal, especially the brains. Usually the head is steamed (divided in smaller parts) or cooked in a traditional dish called mloukhia (the brain is fried seperately and eaten with bread, harissa and olive oil). I do eat every part of the animal, as i believe it's a waste to throw away such delicious and nutritious food. To me eating a tongue or lungs are no different than eating part of a shoulder. We usually home butcher a sheep about once or twice a year.

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  7. Awesome job using every bit of the animal!

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