If you're new to Idaho, learning about our sheepherding heritage and trying a lamb dish -- or better yet, learning to cook with lamb yourself -- is a rite of passage. 6th generation Caldwell ranchers, Brett and Liz Wilder, bring those traditions home to cooks throughout the Boise area.
Idaho's Lamb Culinary Tradition
Sheepherding has been a tradition and industry in Idaho since the 1880s when sheepherders began running flocks throughout the Boise foothills and Idaho wilderness. While herding sheep on the range is a declining field of practice, locally produced lamb has become a thriving culinary fixture and a beloved nuance of Idaho's agricultural diversity.
Boise River Lamb is run by Brett and Liz Wilder in Caldwell, Idaho on green pastures along the Boise River. The Wilders have been ranching the same site for six generations. Brett and Liz are the second generation focused on sheep ranching.
Meet Brett & Liz Wilder & Their Not-Too-Gamey Lamb
Liz is passionate about the role her family plays in representing lamb as a culinary tradition in Idaho.
"Food is so generational. We tend to gravitate towards what our parent’s cooked for us growing up, and they cooked those meals because it is part of what they enjoyed as a child as well. We love being a part of people’s lives and helping them connect with others as well as with themselves."
Brett's favorite memory of a lamb meal shared with friends dates back to his Vandal days (not too long ago).
"Growing up with lamb as a staple, I took for granted that not everyone has had the opportunity to experience it.
While I was in college (Go Vandals!) I would invite a few people over for burgers and beers every few weeks and cook up 50/50 lamb/beef burgers to share with my guests. I loved seeing the reactions and hearing (even from a few cattle ranchers) that it was the best burger they’d ever had. Lamb definitely adds a ton of flavor and is best when shared with friends!"
The Lamb Roast: A Cozy Special Occasion Meal
Having a lamb roast for special occasions is a great way to introduce lamb to your table. Leg of lamb is a traditional cut to use for a lamb roast. Include roasted veggies and plenty of herbs for a cozy, fresh, and nourishing meal produced by your farming neighbors.
The Holiday Lamb Roast Family Meal Kit at FarmDeliver comes with a recipe card, plus all the ingredients you need, sourced completely from our local farmers.
Learn More about Idaho's Sheepherding Tradition & Lamb Cuisine
Each fall shepherds trail flocks of hundreds of sheep through the city in Ketchum, Idaho in the Trailing of the Sheep Festival. This festival is an incredible opportunity to learn about Idaho sheepherding and sheep ranching traditions and to see the sheep up close as they're herded through town to their winter rangeland destination. Follow the trail through a series of articles on Frank Shirts: A Year in the Life of Raising Sheep from Idaho Rangeland.
New to eating lamb? Give it a try at one of Boise's acclaimed Basque restaurants where lamb is a staple feature. Try the Lamb Grinder at Gernika. Or Boise River Lamb at Leku Ona downtown. While you're at it, visit the Basque museum down the street to learn about the Basque shepherds who tended the flocks during the peak of sheep ranching on Idaho rangeland. Epi's in Meridian also has excellent lamb dishes for a special night out.
When asked if they have anything else to add to this article, Brett and Liz wanted you all to know that they greatly appreciate all the support they've received from their local customers and look forward to serving you for many years!