Oswald Rivera

Author, Warrior, and Teacher

Category: lamb and goat (page 1 of 3)


In the Puerto Rican cooking pantheon one of the most renowned dishes is Pernil or Roast Pork Shoulder. It is a holiday treat usually served with rice and pigeon peas. Recently we had a lamb shoulder on hand, and the idea occurred to prepare it the same we do pernil; and it came out great.

Since this is lamb and not pork, I tweaked it a bit by adding herbs that would enhance the natural flavor of lamb. Also, I added assorted vegetables along with a broth that contains either red wine or rum. The red wine gives it a milder flavor, the rum gives it a sweeter flavor, your choice. Still, the recipe adheres to our Nuyorican tradition. So, if you want that special dinner, this is it. Family and guests will love you for for it.

LAMB SHOULDER ROAST (Nuyorican Version)


Lamb Shoulder Roast, 3½-4pounds
4 cloves garlic, peeled and cut into slivers
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon turmeric
2 tablespoons fresh chopped oregano or 1 tablespoon dried
1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill or 1 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon fresh chopped marjoram or1 teaspoon dried
1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
½ cup red wine or dark rum
3 onions, peeled and cut into wedge
3 zucchini (yellow or green or a combination of both), cut into ½-inch chunks
½ cabbage, rinsed, patted dry and cut into wedges
bunch of fresh spinach, rinsed and patted dry


  1. Wash lamb under cold running water, and pat dry with paper towels.
  2.  With a sharp knife make various slits in the fat and meat of the shoulder. Stud the slits with garlic slivers.
  3.  Sprinkle the lamb with salt and pepper. Combine 4 tablespoons of the olive oil and turmeric and brush the lamb with the mixture.  Season with the oregano, dill and marjoram. Place in a zip-lock bag and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  4.  Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive  oil in a large skillet or fry pan. Sear lamb over high heat on all sides.  Lower heat to medium, pour in wine or rum. Bring liquid to boil, cover and simmer (on medium-low heat) for 45 minutes. Arrange  onions, zucchini and cabbage around lamb and simmer, covered, for another ½ hour. Stir in spinach and cook 5 minutes more.
    Yield: 4 servings.


This recipe could be called grilled half leg of lamb since that’s what I used this time for the lamb. I happened to have a half leg on hand, and it seemed a perfect summer day for grilling. Let me add that, in the recipe given, you can also used a butterflied leg of lamb. Let’s say 4-pound butterfly leg.  Note that when grilling the lamb, use indirect heating so that it doesn’t char and the interior cooks to perfection.



Half leg of lamb, about 2-2½ pounds
1 cup dry red wine
2 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
¼ cup chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper


  1. Wash lamb under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels
  2. In a bowl,  whisk together the red wine, garlic, rosemary, mustard and olive oil. Put the red wine mixture and the lamb in a greaseable plastic bag.  Turn the bag several times to be sure all the lamb is coated with the liquid. Refrigerate overnight.
  3.  Preheat the grill to indirect heating. If using coals, arrange them in a circle, leaving the middle empty. If using a gas grill,  light the burners on one side of the grill.
  4.  Remove the lamb from the bag and discard the leftover liquid. Generously season the lamb with salt and pepper.
  5.  Place the lamb on the grill away from direct heat, either in the center of coals or on the opposite side of the grill. Close the lid. Cook the lamb until a thermometer registers 140 degrees F. in the center of the meat, or to desired doneness, about 10 to 15 minutes per side.
  6.  Remove lamb from the grill and let it rest on a serving platter for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with favorite grilled vegetables such as zucchini and/or potatoes.
    Yield: r4 servings.

SARCHICHA CON CEBOLLA Y UVA (Sausage with Onion and Raisins)

In Nuyorican cuisine it is common to add raisins to certain meat recipes.  Think of pasteles (root plants stuffed with meat) and carne guisada (beef stew). We also add it to sausage. In this case the recipe given: Sarchicha con Cebello y Uva (Sausage with Onion and Raisins).  This is a simple dish to prepare. It’s just sausage cooked with onion and raisins, to which we add garlic, salt, pepper and a little white wine, that’s it. Normally, we pair this dish with white rice. In my family we like it with potatoes or bianda (root plants like cassava, pumpkin, green bananas, etc.). This time around we serve it on a bed of steamed cabbage and parsley potatoes and it was great.

Be aware that we refer to sausage as “sarchicha.” I’ve been informed that this is a colloquialism.  If you look it up in an English-Spanish dictionary, it refers to sausage as “embutidos.” Back on the block, we never beard of this embutidos thing. To us it was always sarchicha or sarchichas (plural). And that’s what we call this recipe, end of story.

In Latino culture, the sausage used would be chorizo, the spicy Spanish version. But you can substitute beef, pork, chicken or turkey sausage. In my family, we are partial to lamb, and that’s what is used in this recipe. Look, even if it’s Libby’s canned sausage, you’re still gonna love this dish.

(Sausage with Onion and Raisins)


2 pounds fresh kielbasa lamb sausage
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced into thin rings
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons black raisins or more to taste
Salt and black ground pepper to taste
1/3 cup dry white wine


  1. Remove sausage casing if it has such. Rinse sausage links under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Then sliced into 1/4-inch rounds.
  2.  In a large skillet or fry pan, heat olive oil and butter. Add sausage and onion. Stir fry on medium-high heat until sausage is browned and onion is soft. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes more.  Season with salt and pepper.
  3.  Stir in raisins and cook for 2 minutes. Lower heat, cover and simmer 4 minutes.
  4.  Add wine to pan and cook over high heat, stirring, until most of the wine has been absorbed. Serve immediately.
    Yield: 4-6 servings.

EASTER LAMB (Greek Style)

Here we are: it’s Easter again. In the past I’ve done various posts for Easter, all featuring the traditional Easter Lamb. I’ve done a post on lamb Nuyorican Style (03/29/10); a lamb shanks version (03/28/13); and Easter Lamb with Pineapple (04/13/17).

This time we’re doing Easter Lamb Greek Style. Just like back on the block, lamb is the traditional dish among Greeks and Italians. This recipe I got years ago from a Greek friend. Just another way of preparing a very popular dish, and a very delicious one.

EASTED LAMB (Greek Style)


1 leg of lamb, 6-7 pounds
2½ tablespoons lemon juice
1½ tablespoons salt or more to taste
½ teaspoon black pepper
1½ tablespoons oregano
1 large garlic clove, peeled and slivered
1 tablespoon turmeric
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 large potatoes, cut in quarters, or 18 small ones
1 cup hot water
4 large carrots cut into chunks about ½-inch thick
1 medium onion, peeled and sliced


  1. Night before, wash lamb and place on a large sheet of aluminum foil to cover lamb (may have to use 2 sheets). In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, 1 tablespoon oregano. Rub this mixture well  over meat. With a  knife, cut small deep slits on top and bottom of lamb. Insert garlic slivers in each slit. Then brush with a mix of the turmeric and olive oil. Place lamb in the fridge and let it marinate overnight.
  2.  Next day, preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Wash potatoes and drain (do not peel).  Set aside. Place lamb in a roasting pan, fat side up and bake, uncovered, 20 minutes. Add water, carrots and onion. Lower heat to 325 degrees and continue roasting 3 hours. Turn meat.
  3.  Sprinkle potatoes with remaining lemon juice, salt, pepper and oregano. Arrange potatoes around lamb and continue roasting until potatoes are browned on all sides and meat is tender. Arrange lamb on a large serving platter and surround with potatoes and carrots. I’m told that in Greek cuisine this dish is served with plenty of green salad.
    Yield: 6 servings.


This is a dish that was provided by some Greek-American friends. What fascinates is that it combines fruit with lamb and rice. In this case, green grapes. I’ve noticed also that, in Middle Eastern cuisine, they sometimes add fruit to the entrée; and it brings a whole new dimension to a dish.

With a good Greek red wine, like an Agiorgitiko, Mavrodaphne, or Moschomavro, it makes for a fine meal. Besides Greek reds, you can utilize a good Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel or Bordeaux.  This is a recipe that will please even your most jaded friends.

(Arni Me Rizi Ke Stafeli)


3 tablespoons olive oil
4 lamb shanks
½ cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely mince
3 cups chicken broth
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup long grain rice
2 cups green seedless grapes


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Rinse lamb shanks under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.
  3. Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet or fry pan and brown the lamb shanks. Place them in a large pot or Dutch oven..
  4. In the same skillet as before, brown the onion and garlic. Add to the lamb shanks. Pour the chicken broth into the pot or Dutch oven, and add salt, oregano and bay leaf. Bring the broth to a boil, cover, lower heat to a simmer, and cook for 45 minutes or until the meat is fork-tender. Pour off the liquid and keep the lamb warm.
  5. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a 1½ to 2-quart saucepan and brown the rice lightly over medium-high heat. Add 2½ cups of lamb broth. Cover tightly. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook about 30 minutes or until all of the liquid is absorbed.
  6. Meanwhile, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a heavy skillet. Just before serving, cook the grapes in the butter over medium-high heat until bright green. Arrange the rice in a large serving dish, top with the lamb shanks, spoon the grapes and butter over the lamb, and serve.
    Yield: 4 servings.



This is a Rivera family favorite, Chuletas de Cordero Empananda. Simply, Breaded Lamb Chops. The lamb chops can be coated with flour or breadcrumbs. In the Rivera clan, we prefer the bread crumbs.  The seasoning used you can probably find in your cupboard right now. Note that back in the old days you would have fried the breaded lamb chops in shortening. I still prefer shortening, though today you would most likely use canola or vegetable oil, or a mix of olive oil and butter. We usually serve this dish with a side of parsley potatoes and carrots. But you can complement it with whatever side dish you prefer, or rice, as we did back in Spanish Harlem.

(Breaded Lamb Chops)


2 eggs
2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
1 cup bread crumbs
½ teaspoon each, garlic powder, dried oregano and marjoram
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
8-10 lamb rib chops, ¾ to 1-inch thick
1 cup shortening or vegetable oil to cover the pan by ½-inch


  1. Beat eggs with Worcestershire in a shallow pan.
  2.  Mix together bread crumbs, garlic powder, oregano, marjoram, salt and pepper. Coat chops with egg then bread crumbs.
  3.  Melt shortening or heat oil in  a large skillet. Fry lamb chops a few at a time over medium heat until well-browned, 5 to 7 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels. Chops may be kept warm in oven until all are fried.
    Yield: 4-6 servings.



This recipe came about because of the leftover gravy we had from the Thanksgiving turkey. We had some loin chops on hand and decided to cook them in the gravy. Now, this recipe can work as we did it, with leftover gravy. But in a pinch, you can make your own gravy. Its not that hard, and it’s much better than the watery canned gravy you get in a  supermarket.

This dish is great with mashed potatoes. A combination made in heaven.


8 lamb loin chops or rib chops, about 1-inch thick
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
½ teaspoon dried thyme
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
2 cups leftover gravy—or you can make your own gravy in recipe given which includes:
¼ flour
2 cups chicken or turkey stock


  1. Wash lamb chops under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.
  2.  Season with salt, pepper, oregano and thyme
  3.  Heat olive oil combined with butter pan a large pan or skillet over medium heat. Add lamb chops and sear about 2 minutes on each side.
  4.  Remove chop from skillet, set aside. To the oil in the skillet, add the flour, and blend thoroughly. Add stock, and cook, stirring constantly over medium heat until mixture thickens.
  5.  Add lamb chops to gravy in pan, bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until lamb chops are tender.
    Yield : 4-6 servings.




Years ago I acquired an Indian cookbook that had a recipe for Shish Kabob. They called it Seekh Kabab. I’ve been a fan of skewered meats since I can remember, so I tried the recipe. Problem was it didn’t work. It called for lamb mixed with spices to be threaded onto skewers and grilled. The meat did not bind, It just fell of the skewers whether it was wood or metal skewers.  Then I tried something different, I forwent the skewers and cook the kabobs in oil—and it came out perfect.

Thus here is my modified Indian kabob recipe.  It goes great with boiled or friend rice. It may not be a true shish kabob since it’s not grilled on skewers; but it hits the spot if you want a delicious, satisfying Indian meal.

Seekh Kabab


1 pound (2 cups) ground lamb or beef
1 large onion, finely chopped
½ inch piece fresh ginger root, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Salt to taste
1 egg, beaten
1/3 cup olive oil

lemon slices
tomato slices
Chopped coriander leaves or chopped fresh parsley


  1. Mix meat with onions, ginger, garlic, ground spices and salt.
  2.  Stir in beaten egg and form the mixture into 8 balls. Then flatten the balls into sausage shapes.
  3.  Heat oil over medium flame in a large skillet or pan. Add meat and cook on all sides until meat is browned and tender.
  4.  Garnish with lemon and tomato slices. Sprinkle with coriander or parsley and serve.
    Yield: 4 servings.



On my mother’s side, the heritage is Italian. In fact, my crazy Uncle Phillip once made it his mission to track down the Italian connection and he discovered that the Bizardi’s, my mother’s maiden name, hailed from Brindisi in Southern Italy. This comes to mind with the dish featured today. It’s one of our family favorites. We love lamb chops with garlic and tomatoes. Sometimes my Mom would use ripe tomatoes. In the winter,  it would be canned Italian tomatoes and, when times were lean, marinara sauce. The dish never disappointed.

Through experimentation, the only changed I’ve made to the recipe is to add ground cumin. It improves and hightens the taste. Here it is, the Rivera family Lamb Chops Italian Style.  Any grain accompaniment or even pasta will go with the dish. True to our Boricua lineage, this time around I served it with tostones, friend green plantains. Want a good and  quick recipe for tostones? Check my post from 10/16/16.

Also, if you want to make this dish Tex-Mex, substitute 1 cup prepared salsa for the tomatoes.  Thus, the recipe gives you two dining options.



6-8 lamb chops
2 tablespoons olive oil
Ground cumin to taste
4 large tomatoes, chopped, or 1 medium-sized can  Italian tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
¼ cup grated cheddar cheese


  1. Brush chops with olive oil and sprinkle with cumin. Heat a pan or skillet over medium-high heat and brown chops on both sides (2-3 minutes).
  2.  Add tomatoes and garlic. Lower heat, cover and simmer very gently for 15 minutes.
  3. Top with grated cheese. Cover briefly to melt cheese. Serve immediately.
    Yield: 4-6  servings.



This was a last minute dish that we made yesterday for Easter. Usually I prepared a leg of lamb and have my usual group over for the traditional Easter Dinner. In the age of Covid-19, that was a no-go.  All my friends and acquaintances, as well as Holly and I, are self distancing and hunkering down until this pandemic is over. Honestly, what with the coronavirus and alI I hadn’t planned a holiday dinner. Then, at the last minute, Holy reminded me of the holiday tradition. Problem was, we had no leg of lamb available. We looked in the freezer, and we did have some lamb shanks. I got to thinking, maybe this time I can still do something special with lamb shanks.

One of my favorite entrées is a Middle Easter dish known as Mozaat. Actually, it’s a veal dish, But, not what you think: it’s a shin of veal preparation where the veal shin is steamed along with herbs and spices. I figured, Why not try the same thing with lamb shanks?  The result is what some people would call a stew. It is rich and flavorful; and is usually served with couscous. We had rice on hand, and we use that grain as an accompaniment.  The results were magnificent.

Be aware that this dish includes potatoes. I usually do NOT peel the potatoes. The potatoes skin is what gives it its nutrients. Problem is, that most potatoes these days are sprayed with every kind  chemical. Thus, we always purchase organic potatoes as sold in a health food store, a local farm, or food coop. If you can’t find fresh organic potatoes, then you’d be advised to peel the things. But, if you are fortunate enough to get organic or farm-grown ones, cooked unpeeled.


4 lamb shanks
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 potatoes, sliced
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon fresh chopped oregano or ½ teaspoon dried
½ teaspoon turmeric
Juice of ½ lemon


1. In a large pan or pot, heat the oil over medium flame and sauté the lamb shanks, turning them to brown all over.
2. Season with salt, pepper, oregano and turmeric. Half-cover with water. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer, covered, for about 2 hours or until the meat is soft and the sauce reduced. Add a little water during this time if necessary, and turning the shanks occasionally.
3. Squeeze the lemon juice over the pan just before serving.
Yield: 4 servings.


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