MOUNT VERNON — Three local celebrities had what is possibly the best job during this year’s fair. Joe Rinehart, director of broadcasting at Mount Vernon Nazarene University, Alan Reed, staff reporter for the Mount Vernon News, and Kevin Henthorn of Knox County Veterans Services were judges for the 2010 Lamb Cook-off at the fair Friday night.
The event, which has been going on for about 10 years, is sponsored by the Knox County Sheep Improvement Association.
“Having the lamb cook-off is a way to promote lamb as a meat,” said Lisa Hathaway. Lisa is the mother of Jared Hathaway, the 2010 Sheep Ambassador. Jared could not attend the event because he was in England for a Burn Camp. “A lot of people have never tasted lamb and don’t know how healthy it is. So this is one way the Knox County Sheep Improvement Association has to get the word out. And it’s a fun way to see just how versatile lamb is as a meat.”
There is more to judging a competition such as this than just eating food. There is an art to it as explained by veteran lamb cook-off judge Rinehart.
“Last year there was a variety of stuff,” he said. “Sometimes it is more lamb based and others are just lamb added to a traditional recipe. The one thing I look for is the meat has to be moist. And how the meat combines with the other foods. I look for consistency and how it holds together.”
Jackie Hathaway had the winning entry in the junior division.
“My recipes was Spicy Lamb Meatballs with Gravy,” she said. “It’s my own recipe. I put in some spices with the lamb and some mayonnaise, onions, salt ,pepper and garlic. Then I bake it.”
It was certainly a favorite with the judges.
“The spicy meatballs was really different. Really unique,” Rinehart said. “When I first looked at it I thought it was going to be like stroganoff. But it has a kick and the meat has a really nice texture.”