The provenance of the meat we buy is not something easy to control here in Portugal, especially when it comes to lamb. The most reliable source I have found is the small butcher and German sausage shop belonging to Vila Vita Parc, which is located in Porches, next to the Biergarten restaurant, just off the EN125.
They sell some imported meats, including fabulous French veal, but the X-factor here is the lamb and beef that comes from their own farm in the Alentejo. It is reliably good all year around and I always find it satisfying to know that I am eating meat from a farm a little more than a one-hour drive away, where, should I wish, I can watch the beasts happily munching away on the pasture. And there is no better time to enjoy the lamb than right now in the spring.
They slaughter lambs every week and it is possible to place an order for your desired cut the week before, ensuring absolute freshness.
I regularly cook many different cuts of lamb with my favourites being the neck, shoulder and ribs, or for a special treat a rack of loin chops.
Simply roast in the oven to the desired level of pinkness, they are always delicious - but my favourite method is to cook them two ways. First, directly over hot coals to give a nice barbecue flavour, and then with indirect heat either in the oven or using the indirect setting on a closed barbecue.
The racks pictured here were rubbed in a paste made from garlic, crushed black pepper corns, wild thyme, sea salt and olive oil. Cooked medium and blushing pink, I gave them around 5 minutes each side direct over coals then roasted for 7 minutes, before resting around 10 minutes prior to carving.