Lamb for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving will be different this year. In that spirit, a meal different than turkey. Why not lamb? If that is too radical, lamb as second meat?

Lamb pairs well with wine. Rich cabs, Bordeaux, Chianti, Rioja Reserva are always safe. Lamb pairs with rich chardonnay, rosé sparkling, pinot noir, syrah, southern Rhône GSMs, Argentine malbec, Chilean carménère, even an exotic Gewürztraminer.

Most of those wines also pair with turkey if you go two-meat option.

Lamb’s problem is many cook lamb as they would beef. They are not the same. Nor is all lamb the same. American lamb tastes different than Australian lamb. And then there is Dorper lamb, the top shelf of lamb, raised in South Africa and the U.S. Also in Australia where it is the premium lamb meat category, which should tell you why you should munch this mutton.

Developed in South Africa in the 1930s, Dorpers exist to be eaten rather than sheared. Aside from being delicious, Dorpers are easy care, fast growing, with high reproduction rates. Adult males weigh around 230 pounds. They show exceptional adaptability and hardiness and are comfortable in arid regions. Environmental bonus points.

Our slow-cook lamb chops recipe that gets raves (serves four-plus):

• In fry pan, brown eight lamb chops on medium-high heat in 1 tbsp of olive oil. When done, put in slow cooker.

• Other ingredients: 1 large sliced onion; 2 cloves sliced garlic; 1 tsp balsamic vinegar; 1 tsp honey; 2 bay leaves; 2 sprigs rosemary; half cup red wine; half cup chicken or vegetable stock; 1 red pepper, 1 green pepper, 1 yellow pepper (all seeded and sliced); salt and freshly ground pepper.

• Reduce heat on fry pan. Add 1 tbsp olive oil, onions, sauté until they soften, begin to brown (5-10 minutes). Stir in garlic, vinegar; cook for one or two more minutes. Add wine.

• Tip fry pan ingredients into slow cooker; add honey, herbs, stock.

• Put peppers on top, add salt and pepper, cover, cook low heat for four-to-six hours (until meat falls from bone). When done, garnish with chopped parsley. Serve with wild rice.

Tasting notes:

• Ruffino Riserva Ducale Oro Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2014: Black fruits, panoply of palate pleasers. Delicious. $30-45 Link to my review

• Stags’ Leap The Investor Napa Valley Red Wine 2016: Tasty blend; Bordeaux-style with a California twist (petite sirah). $40-55 Link to my review

Last round: Someone told me Thanksgiving was “Drink Wine Day.” How does that make it any different from every other day?