Oswald Rivera

Author, Warrior, and Teacher

Category: lamb and goat (page 1 of 4)

CROQUETAS DE CARNE (Meat Croquettes)

Back on the block, this was a singular dish, mainly for a celebratory occasion. It’s Croquetas de Carne  (Meat Croquettes). Usually, the  recipe is made with beef; but you can substitute ground pork, lamb , turkey or chicken. Any good grade of meat will do. In Nuyorican cuisine we serve the  dish with parsley potatoes or rice.  But whatever accompaniment you want with it, it’ll be a marvelous  and inexpensive banquet.

Note that the recipe calls for deep frying. Any good quality oil will do, be it canola, safflower or sunflower oil. In the old days, th  folks would use lard.  Also, I’ll say it front: this recipe takes time and patience. You have to cook the meat, chill it thoroughly, dip it in bread crumbs, chill again, and then deep fry. Yet the results will be splendid. That’s why, back in Spanish Harlem, it was a special dish.

CROUETAS DE CARNE   t    (Meat Croquettes)


4 tablespoons butter
¼ cup flour
1 cup milk
2 cups finely ground cooked beef
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Dry bread crumbs
1 egg, slightly beaten and mixed with 2 tablespoons water
Oil for deep frying


  1.  Melt the butter in a large frypan or skillet. Add milk and cook over medium heat until very thick, stirring constantly. Add beef, lemon juice, salt, pepper, parsley and oregano. Place in refrigerator and chill for 2 hours.
  2.  Remove from fridge and form into cylinders, pyramids or patties. While forming the croquettes it’s advisable to keep hands slightly wet. Dip into bread crumbs and then beaten egg. Dip into bread crumbs again. Place back in fridge and chill for 2 hours.
  3.  Fill a large skillet or fry pan with oil (by at least 1½-inches). Heat until very hot (385 degrees F.) and deep fry croquettes until brown.
    Yield: 4 servings.





This glazed leg of lamb recipe was what I prepared for our Christmas dinner. We just couldn’t see having turkey again so soon after Thanksgiving. Lamb seemed a good compromise, and the result was fabulous.

The recipe is easy enough to prepare. The trick is to cook the lamb in a slow over. So, you need patience for this one. Once its done, you’ll sing it’s praises.  We served the lamb with rice and   pigeon peas (see post of 12/01/14).but smashed potatoes and any other good vegetable will do. We garnished the lamb with carrots and quartered onions baked and drizzle with butter during the last 30 minutes of roasting the lamb. Anyway you do it, it’s gonna be a special dish for a special occasion, or whenever you want to impress friends and family.



1 leg of lamb
3 cloves garlic, cut into small slivers
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Olive oil
½ cup apple jelly
½ teaspoon rosemary leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon lemon  juice


  1. Day before cooking wash lamb and pat dry with paper towels. Make slits on the lamb and insert with garlic slivers. Brush with olive oil, wrap in aluminum foil, and place in refrigerator to marinate overnight.
  2. Next day, Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  3. Season lamb thoroughly with salt, pepper and oregano. Pace in rack in a shallow roasting pan. Roast 30 to 35 minutes per pound  or until meat thermometer resisters 175 degrees for medium-done,
  4. Meanwhile, combine jelly, rosemary and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until jelly melts. Brush on lamb last during hour of roasting time.
    Yield: 6 or more servings.


This is a delicious and easy lamb recipe that was, and is, a family favorite. Cordéro al Sartén simply translates as Skillet Lamb. The meat is cooked in a skillet or frypan, along with herbs and spices, and that’s. You just let the lamb simmer. Then you top with cheese slices (optional), let it melt under the broiler, and it’s done. For the cheese you can use whatever you have on hand, be it American Cheese, Cheddar, Swiss, Gouda, etc.

Back on the block in Spanish Harlem, the  dish was serve with rice, either white rice or yellow Spanish rice.  But you can pair it with you favorite grain or even pasta. This time around we serve it with baked potatoes.  Your choice as to the accompaniment. You can even have it with a crusty loaf of bread. Think of this meal as a beggar’s banquet (although lamb may be pricey in some areas, this dish is still a winner).

(Skillet Lamb)


3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced into thin rounds
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 pounds ground lamb
½ cup bread crumbs
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained
Salt and pepper to taste
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried thyme
Juice of ½ lemon
1 packet sasôn (either Sasón Accent or Goya brand)
Cheese slices (optional)


  1. In a 10-inch skillet or frypan (we prefer cast iron), heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
  2.  Add onion and garlic. Stir fry until onion is soft and translucent.
  3.  Add lamb and cook, stirring constantly, until meat is browned.
  4.  Stir in bread crumbs. Add diced tomatoes, salt, pepper, oregano and thyme. Stir to combine. Add lemon juice and sasôn. Mix well. Cover, lower heat to simmer and cook for 25 minutes.
  5.  Top with cheese slices. Place under pre-heated broiler and broil until cheese has melted (2-3 minutes). Serve immediately.
    Yield: 4-6 servings.



I call this dish ‘Italian Meatballs,’ although the recipe is known as Kofta Curry. Think of meatballs in a tomato-curry sauce and served over rice. In this case, Turmeric Rice. The dish does have a genuine Indian flavor with the spices utilized; yet it’s an easy enough dish to prepare. For the record, this recipe comes from a cookbook I’ve had for years, The Color Book of Indian Cooking, edited by Eileen Turner (Octopus Books Limited). The Turmeric Rice dish recipe is my own. Enjoy.


1 lb. (2 cups) minced (ground) beef or lamb                                                           Sauce:
1 onion, finely chopped                                                                                                     1 onion, chopped
2 teaspoons curry powder                                                                                              3 tomatoes, skinned and chopped
1 teaspoon salt                                                                                                                       2 tablespoons (3T) curry powder
Pinch of pepper                                                                                                                     1 tablespoon flour
1 egg, beaten                                                                                                                           ¼ pint (2/3 cup) beef stock
Salt and pepper
Chopped fresh mint to garnish

Mixed together the minced meat, onion, curry powder, salt and pepper and bind the mixture with beaten egg. Divide the mixture into 16 portions, shaping each one into a ball with floured hands. Heat sufficient oil to cover the base of a large frying pan (skillet) and fry the meat balls, turning occasionally, until they are brown all over. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and keep hot.

In the same pan, fry the onion and tomatoes for 3 minutes. Add the curry powder and flour and cook gently for 2 minutes.  Blend in the stock and seasoning. Bring the liquid to the boil and add the meat balls. Simmer gently for 30 minutes, turning occasionally.

Sprinkle with chopped mint to garish. Serve with rice and a selection of side dishes, including parathas.
Serves 4


2 cups long-grain rice (can substitute jasmine rice)
Salt to taste
Water to cover rice by about 1-inch
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon ground turmeric


Wash the rice in cold running water until the water is clear of starch. Drain thoroughly.

Place rice in a pot or pan with water to cover. Add salt and turmeric and bring to boil. Cover, lower heat to a simmer, and cook until water has been absorbed, about 30 minutes. If the rice is not as tender as you want, you can add more water. The grains should be separate and fluffy
Serves 4 to 6.



I’ve had stuffed zucchini dishes before, but not this version. This is the Lebanese method of stuffing zucchini with meat. For full disclosure, this dish is from a cookbook I’ve had for years, Lebanese Delights by Raymonda khoury Naaman. It has become one of my go-too volumes when I want to impress friends and neighbors by serving a Middle Eastern meal.

The recipe is simple enough, sautéed zucchini with meat cooked with various spices. The recipe ingredients says use “lean ground meat.” We deciphered that to be beef, lamb or pork, your choice. You can  even make it with ground chicken or turkey. As an accompaniment we served it with another recipe from Ms. Naaman’s cookbook, Cooked Rice. This dish uses vermicelli noodles as an ingredient, thus it reminds me of Syrian rice, which is prepared the same way.

Enjoy this meal from a culture and cuisine thousands of years in the making.

(Koussa Ablama)
Serves 6


2.2 pound small zucchini, about 5-6 zucchini
1 pound ground meat
4 tablespoons pine nuts
2 medium chopped white or red onions
1 tablespoon butter
4 tablespoons vegetable oil (Note: we substituted olive oil)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups water
Salt, pepper and cinnamon as desired


Wash the zucchini, cut off the stems and hollow them using a zucchini cutter or potato peeler. (Note: you can also use an ice cream cone scooper. In fact, we found this easier when scooping out the zucchini flesh).

Melt the butter in a frying pan; add 2 tablespoons of oil and sauté the zucchinis.

Fry the pine nuts in 2 tablespoons of oil; add the chopped onions and fry until golden in color. Add the meat, salt, pepper and cinnamon and keep frying until the meat is cooked.

Fill the zucchinis with the meat mixture and place them in a pot. Add the tomato paste (dissolved in 2 cup of water) and cook on high heat until done (about 20 minutes).

Serve hot with rice on the side.
(Recipe given bellow)

(Riz Mfalfal)
Serves 6


½ cup vermicelli
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups water
1 cup rice
Salt as desired


Heat the butter and oil in a cooking pot. Add the vermicelli  and fry until golden in color. Add 2 cups of water, salt, and bring to a boil.

Rinse the rice with water, drain it, then add it to the boiling water. Cover the pot and let it boil for another minute, Reduce the heat and simmer until the rice is done.

Turn off the heat and let it stand for 2 minutes,



On 01/20/22 I did a post on Maple Glazed Pork Chops-Nuyorican Style. And I wondered, why can’t the same be done with other types of meat? The result is today’s rendition, Maple Glazed Lamb Chops. Maple syrup has long been a condiment used to enhance the taste of meat, normally pork. It does not work well with beef or seafood, In this case, the sweetness overwhelms the dish. With lamb, it hits the spot.

This dish is not as involved as the one with pork. There is no crushing of condiments in a mortar and pestle as was called for in the pork dish. Lamb is fairly easy to prepare and season. Just fry the lamb chops in olive oil with some herbs, and add the maple syrup. That’s it. Easy as pie. For a side dish or accompaniment, any vegetable of choice will do. This time around we went with brussels’s sprouts sautéed with a little soy sauce. Try it, it’s just like it sounds: fry the suckers in olive oil for a few minutes and add 1-2 tablespoons of soy sauce. It’s a trick I learned from a beloved friend from years past.

Note that for the lamb, I prefer lamb shoulder blade chops. But any good lamb chop will do, be it rib chops, butterfly or loin chops.. You can even try this with a leg of lamb. You won’t be disappointed.



4 lamb chops, about 1½-2 pounds
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoons fresh chopped oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
Salt and black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons maple syrup


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Rinse chops under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels.
  3.  In a bowl, drizzle lamb with olive oil and season with oregano, salt and pepper.
  4. Heat oil in an oven proof pan or skillet (we prefer cast iron), and sear over medium-high heat, about 2 minutes per side..
  5.  Top with maple syrup, place in  oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until tender.
    Yield: 4 servings.


Easter is upon us once more, and it brings back memories of the Easter meals back on the block. In Spanish Harlem it was either pernil (roast pork shoulder) or lamb. In my family, we preferred lamb (we had the pernil at Christmas). I didn’t find out about roast Smithfield ham for the holiday (as is popular in some Anglo households) until I left the block and my horizons expanded.

Today, lamb is still our favored dish for this time of year, and I’m always on the lookout for unique ways to prepare it. The recipe given below is Glazed Leg of lamb. The recipe itself is simple enough: we make slits in the lamb and stuff it with slivers of garlic; then we marinated it overnight in a mix of salt, pepper, turmeric and olive oil. When the lamb is roasted, the glaze used is a mix of apple jelly, rosemary and lemon juice. We serve the dish with sweet potatoes (yams). It makes for a great Easter meal or, for anytime you want that special leg of lamb extravaganza.



Leg of lamb (about 5 pounds)
3 cloves garlic, peeled and cut into slivers
1 tablespoon turmeric
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup apple jelly
½ teaspoon rosemary leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup butter
¼ cup firmly packed brown sugar
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 pound sweet potatoes, washed, peeled and cut into chunks


  1. Day before cooking, rinse lamb under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. With a sharp knife make several slits in the lamb. Stud the slits with garlic slivers.
  2. In a small bowl, combine turmeric, salt, pepper and olive oil. Brush mixture over entire leg of lamb. Wrap lamb in aluminum foil, place in fridge and marinate overnight.
  3. Next day, preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  4. Place lamb in a shallow roasting pan and bake 30 to 35 minutes per pound or until a meat thermometer registers 175 degrees for medium doneness.
  5. Meanwhile, combine jelly, rosemary and lemon juice in small saucepan. Brush on lamb during last hour of roasting time.


  1. Combine butter, brown sugar and nutmeg in a small saucepan. Stir and cook over low heat until well blended.
  2. Pour butter mixture over sweet potatoes and arrange around lamb; and continue baking for the last 30 minutes of roasting time. Arrange on a serving platter and serve.
    Yield: 6 or more servings.


Here’s a treat: a sauce that can accommodate both meat and fish. We have it in Shallot Butter Sauce. Also, it’s so simple and so refined, it will transform a lowly pork chop or lamb chop, not to mention a fist steak, into a glorious dish. All you need is three basic ingredients: shallots, butter and a bit of white wine. That’s it. You can serve the dish with whatever accompaniment you like, be it rice, pasta or potatoes. We, in the Rivera clan, like it with a good hearty loaf of bread to sop  up the sauce as you enjoy the lamb  or pork chops (or fish).

The other thing that needs discussion is the time factor in terms of the item used with this sauce, I like to cook pork chops at an oven temperature of 375 degrees F.  It take about  25 minutes to cook depending on thickness. Some cooks prefer a 400 degree oven because it cooks faster. But I find that at the lower temperature, pork chops remain  tender and juicy rather than drying out. The same for Lamb chops. They take about 35-40 minutes to cook at 375º and 8-10 minutes at 400º.  Note that the longer baking time will give you a well done product. In my family we like chops well done. If you want medium or rare, then the baking time will be less. For fish steaks, it’s another story. It’ll be 25-30 minutes at 375º and 15-20 minutes at 400º.  How long to cook or how tender you want the product will be up to you.



3 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
½ stick butter (or more to taste)
3 tablespoons white wine, dry or sweet (your preference)


  1. In a saucepan or skillet, melt butter over medium heat.
  2.  Add shallots and cook, stirring until onion is soft, about 3-4 minutes.
  3.  Add wine and cook 3 minutes more.
  4.  Pour over 4 pork chops, lamb chops or fish steaks and bake in a preheated oven until tender (see above).
    Yield: 4 servings.


Steaming is a process well known in cooking. Our Chinese brethren have used it for centuries for cooking fish and chicken. But how about steaming meats like, let’s say, lamb?  I had some round bone chops on hand and I decided to give it a try, and it came out really good.

If you have a steamer, this recipe is a cinch. A wok also works. If you don’t have such an appliance, then you must improvise. I used a large skillet with high sides, placed a 5 oz. tuna fish can on the bottom, placed the seasoned lamb chops on  a plate atop the can and that became my steamer.  You can use a large sauce pan as well.  What’s the old saying about necessity being the mother of invention? Most times it’s true.

As noted, I used round bone lamb chops. Boneless will work just as good, if not better. I’m sure the recipe will work with with pork chops. I haven’t tried it with steak and, honestly, I don’t know if it will come out as good, You’re welcomed to try, and let me know the results. Also, for this recipe I used a seasoning mix of olive oil, cumin and coriander. You’re encouraged to experiment with whatever seasoning combination desired, be it  a simple combo of olive oil, salt and pepper, or anything else for that matter. The trick is to be creative (within reason).



4 lamb chops of choice, 8-12 ounces (or more)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
Salt to taste


  1. Rinse lamb chops under running water and pat dry with paper towels.
  2.  Brush with olive oil and season both sides well with coriander and cumin. Sprinkle with salt to taste. Place on a plate and  put dish inside the steamer. Put enough water to cover the bottom of the pan or skillet, being sure not to use too much or it might spill into the dish. Heat the water to  a fast boil, cover and steam lamb for approximately10 minutes or until tender. The steaming time will vary depending on the thickness of the meat. Boneless lamb chops will cook faster than bone-in. Serve immediately.
    Yield: 4 servings.


One of my favorite meals is lamb chops. Thus I’m always looking for unique ways to prepare it. Well, it so happens that I still have  some fresh rosemary left from my summer garden. So, I came up with this recipe. It’s really simple: lamb cooked with the aforementioned rosemary,  some parsley, wine and butter. I also coupled it with one of my favorite grains, farro, that high-protein, high-fiber ancient grain that is similar to barley and is very prominent in the Mediterranean diet. I particularly like its nutty flavor and chewy texture. Farro is relatively easy to cook. Just rinse 1 cup farro in cold water before cooking. Add 2 cups water to a pot or saucepan and bring to a boil. Add farro, cover and simmer on medium-low heat for 25 minutes or until all of the water is absorbed. As you can see, it cooks just like rice. And like rice, I like to add a chicken bouillon cube to the water or cook it in  chicken broth. Let me add, it goes great with lamp chops cooked with rosemary.



4 lamb chops about 1½-inches thick
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh minced rosemary leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
2 teaspoon minced fresh parsley or 1 teaspoon dried
¼ cup red wine
3 tablespoons butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan or skillet and brown chops over medium-high heat. Turn heat to low and cook to desired doneness, about 7 minutes per side for medium. Remove  to a warm platter.
  2. Add rosemary, parsley and wine to original pan. Heat to boiling and reduce slightly. Stir in butter. Return lamb to pan, and coat with sauce. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve at once.
    Yield: 4 servings.


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