Wednesday, August 24, 2011


Border Springs Farm photo credit Mike Saurez

Shepherd. Lamb fanatic. Owner of a thousand acres of Southern Heaven within the shadow of the Blue Ridge. A bon vivante whose contact list includes the who's who of chefs from the Mississippi to New York City. That's Craig Rogers, former Dean of Engineering, CEO of his own startup, now owner of Border Springs Farm in Patrick County, VA.

Once a year, Craig welcomes chefs, food artisans, writers, foodies and other professional fans of lamb to his Border Springs Farm for a three day orgy he calls LAMBSTOCK. Think Woodstock with music under a bandstand, yes, but more importantly, as a humongous picnic that allows you to gorge yourself with tender, succulent lamb prepared by some of the nations top chefs.
This year, George Mendes of Aldea in New York City, one of Food & Wines Best New Chefs; Sean Brock of HUSK, winner of the James Beard Best Chef in the Southeast; John Currence of City Grocery in Oxford, Miss, another contender for that award; and other big name chefs brought their staff and RVs or tents, slept in the sheep pastures and then for three days prepared lamb for our tasting.

EWE'RE HOT . . . . .COUNTING SHEEP. . . . BAAAAAD TO THE BONE (thanks to the American Lamb Board)

Here are a few things we tasted:

Lamb roasted on a spit supervised by Angelo Vangelopoulos of The Ivy Inn in Charlottesville.
Lamb tacos with a smoking hot adobe sauce, salsas. . . and did I mention freshly rolled, pressed on the spot, then grilled tortillas?

Lamb burgers, grilled with freshly made tomato catsup and homemade mustard.

Lamb posole, a spicy stew with hominy, salsa and fatback chips.
An older lamb, a whole splayed mutton, slowly grilled to 190 degrees like a whole hog, for a lamb pickin' by Jimmy Hagood, who owns the Que-osk in the newly opened Charleston Market.
Clams with lamb? You bet, with Rappahannock River Oysters, too.
And to balance the menu, there was gazpacho, and collards, and more collards, and roasted tomatoes . . . .

And dessert? Cookies and a gorgeous coconut cake.

Lime curd, Lemon Curd and a Coconut Paste separate the layers of this Coconut Cake.

Here's the recipe for Lamb Burgers that Craig Rogers shared with me for THE NEW BLUE RIDGE COOKBOOK, by Elizabeth Wiegand, Globe Pequot Press, 2010. (c) Please be nice and give credit.


Craig Rogers loves to wax poetic about his Texel sheep and lambs, and the Border Collies he trains to keep them in line at Border Springs Farm. These lamb burgers are the very best you’ll ever taste, he says. The mayonnaise provides an exquisite, finishing touch. “Leave the catsup and mustard in the refrigerator in you want to enjoy a true, farm fresh burger,” he says.


1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 pinch sea salt

¼ teaspoon pepper, freshly ground

¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 egg, large, fresh from the hen

1 cup olive oil

Optional: 2 teaspoons dill, finely chopped and 1/3 cup feta cheese, OR, 2 teaspoons mint and 2 teaspoons rosemary, both finely chopped

1. In a medium bowl, mix the red wine vinegar, lemon juice, sea salt, pepper, Dijon mustard and egg together well, using a whisk or egg-beaters (or a blender).

2. Very slowly add the olive oil while mixing vigorously or pureeing in the blender. The final product should be whipped-cream smooth and firm.

3. To add a twist try folding in your favorite herbs and cheese once the mayonnaise is complete.

a. For one variation try: 2 teaspoons dill, finely chopped and ⅓ cup feta cheese, crumbled. The dill adds some pizzazz and the feta a nice texture.

b. For another twist try: 2 teaspoons mint, finely chopped and 2 teaspoons rosemary, finely chopped.

4. Let the mayonnaise rest in the refrigerator for an hour before serving to allow the flavors to set.


2 pounds ground lamb

1 onion, finely chopped

½ cup fresh mint, chopped

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 eggs, large, fresh from the hen

½ teaspoon red chilies, crushed

1 teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon cumin, ground

1 teaspoon coriander seed, ground

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground

Homemade Mayonnaise with a Twist (as above)

6 Buns

Sliced tomatoes and onions, optional

1. Prepare charcoal or preheat gas grill.

2. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients well.

3. Form 6 burger patties from the mixture.

4. Grill slowly, for approximately 20 minutes. Leave the middle medium rare or to taste.

5. Serve on a good bun, with homemade mayonnaise, a slice of garden fresh tomato and onion.

YIELD: 6 Servings

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