Yesterday, Sukey and John Jamison came to ICE to give a butchering demo and discuss their 210-acre farm in Latrobe, PA. They raise 5,000 lambs a year, which are served at top restaurants around the country — including Daniel, Picholine and Telepan in New York. On the farm, the lambs nibble on bluegrass and white clover nine months out of the year, and are hand-fed hay and corn in the winter. Their natural diet and lifestyle insure the meat is lean, firm, tender, delicate and pink, as well as free of hormones, antibiotics, herbicides and insecticides.
In 1985, they began a mail order business to sell their lamb directly to consumers. Within a few years, they were counting the country’s best chefs among their clients. Sukey and John worked closely with Jean-Louis Palladin on finding uses for all the cuts of lamb and using the whole animal without letting anything go to waste. Sukey has created a line of hand-prepared lamb dishes, which include a lamb stew created in collaboration with Jean-Louis Palladin and an award-winning lamb pie.
At the demo, students were able to taste a variety of cuts of meat, as well as Sukey’s Lamb Barley Soup and three different types of lamb sausage. Sukey demonstrated the different cuts of meet found in a leg of lamb, and how you can prepare them rather than buying a whole leg.
John discussed the history of the farm and how they moved from farming into processing as well. The farm began as just an old farmhouse to a 9-acres farm with 200 lambs per acre and a processing plant where the Jamisons butcher the lambs according to the specifications of the chefs buying their meat. John bought the plant in 1994 and admitted it has been hard to keep up with USDA regulations, but that it was worth it to control the butchering and quality of the meat, saying, “If I charge two to three times the price for commodity meat, the quality better be different.” As the students tasted the lamb, it was evident what he meant.