Tell me about lamb

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Tell me about lamb

Postby Robert Reynolds » Sat Apr 27, 2013 3:37 pm

Specifically, methods of cooking, uses of different cuts. Reccos of useful books on the subject would be helpful.
Why? Because I now have sheep, and didn't get them just to be lawnmowers.
Have a couple of lambs (one a hair sheep, one a woolie) that I plan to butcher this Fall. Maybe a goat as well. Problem is I have never cooked lamb, and have only ever eaten it a couple of times.
Lowfat cooking methods preferable.
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Re: Tell me about lamb

Postby Mike Filigenzi » Sat Apr 27, 2013 6:20 pm

Most of my experience with cooking lamb has involved braising the shanks or stewing the shoulder. Braised lamb shanks are excellent winter fare. The stewed dishes I've made have generally been either Middle Eastern or North African in terms of spicing and such. There are many recipes out there for tagines, for instance, and they make come off as both delicious and a bit exotic.

I've never done a whole leg or a rack of lamb, but I'm sure many others here have.

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Re: Tell me about lamb

Postby Dale Williams » Sat Apr 27, 2013 10:21 pm

We eat a lot of lamb. About the only thing we've never done (but have loved when someone else has) is spitroast a whole one- you could have a party. :)

You'll have to make some decisions re butchering. Americans, Brits, and continentals all seem to butcher a bit different.

Braise/slow cook ideas
Hard to find in US (unless you're butchering your own) but I've loved braised neck of lamb,

I like lamb shanks even more than veal, my favorite is with white beans. Of course some versions of cassoulet use lamb.

As Mike noted, N. Africa/Middle Eastern spicing works well with lamb (or Indian)

Roasting
I really adore leg of lamb. I usually get some garlic and maybe anchovy under skin, and rub with spices. One of the great things if that the shape makes it easy to please a variety of tastes- fat end can be medium rare while there is some medium/done for others.
Breast can be nice roasted too
Seldom see it offered (but you're having butchered to spec) but I like whole loin roasted more than chops

Grilled/broil
If you don't want to roast whole leg, butterfly and grill.
I love whole rack, or double rib chops (single rib chops can work with bigger lambs, but with milk/spring lambs you really end up too done for me)
Probably most common prep for ribs for us is either a persillade or a mustard marinade

Ground
Kebabs!
Tonight we had ground lamb with lentils, a great prep
http://food52.com/blog/5703-crispy-lent ... round-lamb
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Re: Tell me about lamb

Postby Frank Deis » Sat Apr 27, 2013 10:22 pm

My real "go to" lamb recipe is Julia Child's butterflied leg of lamb. Butterflying means taking out the bone, which can be a little tricky but isn't that hard. And these days we mostly buy our leg of lamb at Costco -- and the bone is already out. You give it a few cuts to help it lie flat, you "shave the fell" -- taking off a lot of the membrane and "white stuff." Then you marinate it in olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic. And you broil it in the oven until it's scorched brown on the outside and pink on the inside. Wonderfully tender and delicious.

We also eat lamb chops, just roasted in the oven. If we get the little "lollipops" those are good cooked over a fire, on the grill. You still want pink inside, brown outside.

When you get into ethnic cooking -- well, you've got Ken's Hunan Lamb here in this forum as an example of spicy Chinese lamb. But one of my absolute favorite dishes is Celery Khoresh, which uses 1 inch cubes of lamb (preferably leg) which are seared and then cooked in a stew with celery chunks, herbs, spices, and lime juice -- somehow they come out just exquisitely tender. And you serve the stew over rice, with a topping of yogurt. Might be hard to visualize if you've never tasted Persian food but it's wonderful.

Tomorrow I am going to make a very elegant Turkish lamb recipe, Hünkar Begendi. You start by "burning" a couple of large eggplants, you literally stick them on the gas burner on top of the stove and let the flame lick them. I do 4 minutes on one side, and then turn with metal tongs, 4 minutes on side 2. At this point it's starting to get smoky and messy and the eggplants are really getting soft so I move to a pan and finish in a hot oven (or toaster oven). You scoop out the flesh (no black skin) and mix it with a bechamel to make a lovely white sauce. Then you take 1 inch cubes of lamb and brown them, then braise with onion and tomato.

To serve, you put a layer of eggplant puree on each plate, pure white, and then top with the tender lamb chunks.

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Re: Tell me about lamb

Postby Robert Reynolds » Sat Apr 27, 2013 10:41 pm

Some delicious sounding ideas! I'll be killing and buthchering the lamb myself, and I expect a fair amount will be ground. This is all part of my endeavour to raise most of the meat we eat. We've already been eating our own heritage chicken. Turkey is in the forecast, plus the lamb and goat.
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Re: Tell me about lamb

Postby Ken Schechet » Sun Apr 28, 2013 1:26 am

Robert, you owe it to yourself to make a roasted rack of lamb. It's one of the best dishes ever. Lots of recipes available online most involving olive oil, garlic and thyme. Most important thing is to not let it overcook. At 125 degrees internal temperature, out it comes. Then let it rest tented with foil for 10 to 15 minutes. Put the best French mustard you can find on the meat a few minutes before it comes out of the oven. Serve with a good Bordeaux. Heaven.
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Re: Tell me about lamb

Postby Jenise » Sun Apr 28, 2013 10:30 am

Robert,

One of quote unquote classic lamb recipes you'll hear/read a lot about is "Seven Hour Lamb", wherein a shoulder or leg of lamb braised in wine and a lot of aromatics. Google it right now and just about everybody whose ever written a cookbook from James Beard to Ina Garten will have a recipe attributed to them. I remember a New York Times recipe/article that explains why long cooking is great, but seven hours could be too long. I found it just now. Could be useful reading for you, I'll paste it in below.

Some things I'd want you to know: the gaminess of lamb is concentrated in the fat and sinew, so one of the advantages of butterflying a leg like Frank describes is the opportunity it gives you to remove all that stuff from inside the leg, where several fat deposits seem to reside. Brining is a good method for adding flavor and taming gaminess (I brine with cloves and bay leaf, fanTAStic combo for lamb) to a whole roast leg of lamb. Younger lamb is milder than older lamb--bigger is not better!

As others have implied, the rack (loin end of rib, without filet, equivalent to prime rib on a cow) is the most elegant piece on the lamb, usually prepared roasted and rare to medium rare. Your taste in beef may be slightly different in lamb: a lot of people who enjoy rare beef will prefer their lamb med to med rare. Lamb takes to herbs extremely well: mint, rosemary, thyme, herbs d'Provence, and dill are frequently used, and in abundance. No need to be shy. Garlic, olives, cloves, cumin, cinnamon, allspice and pepper are other flavorings frequently used with lamb.

The shank end of the leg is one of the best things about this animal. The meat is very different--I want to say glycerin-y, but that probably doesn't convey what I'm trying to describe--it's silky. You want to roast/braise this cut for 2.5 hours. It's something you want to eat well-done and that technically occurs in less time, but there's some magical thing that happens under longer cooking and 2.5-3.0 hours is what it takes to get there. You can get fancy, but you really need nothing more than salt/pepper/a mess of sliced onions and enough white wine ( sherry's great too)/and or broth to keep the onions, which caramelize while the lamb roasts, from gluing themselves to your roasting pan to have a really great dish. That is, you add the liquid in dollops throughout cooking, you never want to float the onions (use one big onion per serving), and if a few stick and turn black right at the end of cooking that's perfect. It's the way my mother prepared lamb shanks, which she did often because it was one of the cheapest cuts of meat you could buy as they had not yet been discovered by upscale restaurant chefs, and one of my favorite preps to this day.

Ground lamb makes great patties which can take on a variety of personalities depending on how you season. It also makes a terrific meat loaf: use red wine for your liquid medium, oats instead of bread brumbs, one egg per pound of meat and season with herbs d'Provence. Heavenly.

Anyway, those are just some thoughts. Here's the NYT article:


SEVERAL years ago, I made a dish known as “seven-hour leg of lamb.” A much-esteemed, classic preparation, it called for braising the meat in wine and aromatics for the better part of a day, at which point, said the recipe, I’d serve forth a silky, tender cut of meat so soft you could cut it with a spoon.

Instead, the meat disintegrated into rough, stringy bits. I tossed it all with pasta and plenty of cheese and pretended I’d meant to make lamb Bolognese all along. It was tasty enough, but not what I was hoping for.

Last year around this time, I chatted with a chef friend about what to make for Christmas Eve dinner. He suggested seven-hour leg of lamb.

Been there, done that, didn’t love it, I told him.

“Ah,” he said, shaking his head, “I’ll bet you cooked it for seven hours.”

He went on to explain that the recipe was originally devised for animals that were older, larger and tougher than today’s little lambs. With modern meat, he said, four to five hours is plenty.

He was right. Stewed with canned tomatoes, herbs and wine, the lamb started to fall off the bone four hours later. I served it in the traditional manner, over a mound of garlicky flageolets.

It was so succulent and savory that this year, I made it again. Sort of. Recipe fiddler that I am, I seem to be incapable of cooking anything the same way twice.

This time, I skipped the tomatoes and added carrots and parsnips to the pot. And instead of beans, I planned to pile the lamb on a bed of garlicky celeriac puréed so smooth it could serve as a creamy sauce.

The meat was as tender, intense and velvety as I’d remembered. But the parsnips and carrots made the juices a tad too sweet without the acidity of the tomatoes to zip everything up. To fix this, I threw in a handful of chopped green olives and some pasted raw garlic to add a bracing bite.

My guests agreed: it was the best four-and-a-half-hour seven-hour leg of lamb they’d ever had. Maybe even the only one.
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Re: Tell me about lamb

Postby Frank Deis » Sun Apr 28, 2013 11:50 am

Thanks for that NYT article Jenise, I am trying to remember -- I think I fall into the category of people who made 7 hour lamb the "right" way and never bothered trying it a second time. That's valuable information that you don't really want the 7 hours.

The advice about herbs (and garlic) going well with lamb is very good as well. Robert's ground lamb patties will be enhanced if he can find the right spices to make them into Kebabs as Dale suggested. Probably the central staple of Persian cuisine is "chelokebab." Chelo referring to the rice, and Kebab to the smoky meat on top.
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Re: Tell me about lamb

Postby Robert Reynolds » Sun Apr 28, 2013 12:06 pm

These recipe ideas have me ready to go out and butcher one today! But I can't, as there are more pressing tasks to do. I find the sheep and lambs a lot less cute and friendly than the goats, so it won't be hard emotionally to dispatch one or two. The goats are just too darned cute right now.
Gaminess I can handle, can't be worse than an older deer. And Jenise, that meatloaf sounds great! I imagine a fair amount will be ground.
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Re: Tell me about lamb

Postby Redwinger » Sun Apr 28, 2013 12:13 pm

Robert-
Save the goat(s). When, or if, prayer fails you, you'll need a spare for sacrificial purposes.
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Re: Tell me about lamb

Postby Paul Winalski » Sun Apr 28, 2013 12:57 pm

Ken's Hunan Lamb (recipe posted recently in this forum) is Chinese stir-fried lamb with leeks and a garlic and chile sauce.

Lamb works just fine in place of beef in boeuf Bourguignon.

Indian meat (gosht) recipes traditionally use goat, but in the USA lamb is usually substituted.

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Re: Tell me about lamb

Postby Frank Deis » Sun Apr 28, 2013 1:29 pm

When I was in Spain I fell in love with Choto ai Ajillo, a young kid braised in a spicy stew. And I vowed to make it some day. But it's true, when I go to the local "zoo" and see the baby goats capering around, standing on top of things, they are so cute it's hard to imagine cooking and eating them. I don't think they are too hard to obtain, local goat farms focus on dairy -- making chevre and other milk products -- so they often slaughter most of the males while they are still small. Basically I haven't gotten around to it.
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Re: Tell me about lamb

Postby Carl Eppig » Sun Apr 28, 2013 1:45 pm

To us lamb and mint are a natural affinity; probably going back to my youth when the family always served mint jelly with leg of lamb One of our favorite preparations now is to make a mayonnaise out of mint leaves and lemon juice and zest and marinate a lamb steak in it. Then we grill it over charcoal and a handful of fragrant wood chips such as wild cherry.
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Re: Tell me about lamb

Postby Jenise » Sun Apr 28, 2013 2:59 pm

Robert Reynolds wrote:These recipe ideas have me ready to go out and butcher one today! But I can't, as there are more pressing tasks to do. I find the sheep and lambs a lot less cute and friendly than the goats, so it won't be hard emotionally to dispatch one or two. The goats are just too darned cute right now.


Travelling through Australia once we came around a bend and there in the middle of the road was a little black goat, bleating. We stopped and I opened the car door to check what was the matter, and it climbed right in the car with me and licked my face like a happy puppy.

I can't eat goat.
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Re: Tell me about lamb

Postby Jenise » Sun Apr 28, 2013 3:06 pm

Frank Deis wrote:Thanks for that NYT article Jenise, I am trying to remember -- I think I fall into the category of people who made 7 hour lamb the "right" way and never bothered trying it a second time.


I did, too, which is why this article (circa 2009) jumped out at me. I was reminded of it separately in the past few days reading Noel Ermitano's posts about travelling in France. They had "7 hour lamb" at two different restaurants, so it apparently remains quite popular. What I'm recalling doing myself also involved a sweet white wine, and I want to say Sauternes was the suggested wine (don't we all have cases lying around we don't know what to do with? :roll: ) but I can't nail myself down any better than that. It was 15-20 years ago, there was a resurgence of the recipe either in the press or on the old incarnation of this board, and the whole "eat with a spoon" thing was what roped me in. It was not, however, my result, nor was it otherwise impressive to me then. It certainly didn't measure up to what I love about a three hour lamb shank, that's for sure.
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Re: Tell me about lamb

Postby Tom NJ » Sun Apr 28, 2013 4:41 pm

I've been having way way too much geeky fun lately playing around with browning foods by doing things like varying pH levels (per Harvard's food-science blog) or dusting with sugar (Cooks Illustrated's tip for pan roasting thick cuts of fish). The latter worked quite well with a lamb dish I made for Easter: I boned out a leg, butterflied it open and trimmed it to even thickness. With the trimmings I made a forcemeat the usual way, bolstered with chopped dried apricots and blue cheese. (aside: I had the blue cheese left over from making blue cheese sable cookies. They were a stupendous match with Port, and something I recommend trying if you want a nifty variation of the classic blue/Port pairing.) I piped the forcemeat onto the butterflied leg, rolled and tied it, and dusted it with sugar. Then browned in a dutch oven - the sugar created a crust quickly without cooking into the meat very far, and made a very deep fond - and braised til done.

When I just want a plain leg of lamb however, and I want a plain leg of lamb often, I almost always go back to...wait for it...my mom's 1969 edition of "The Graham Kerr Cookbook by The Galloping Gourmet"! (She loooooooooved pre-health nut Graham, in all his swilling, carniverous glory.)

It's a deceptively simple recipe, and it produces a perfect roast. Here's how he describes it:

"In accordance with ancient tradition, many gourmet authors and leading chefs prefer to cook their roasts at a high internal temperature and then reduce heat to roughly 400(f). I am not a traditionalist. It has been proven time and time again that a stable temperature of 300 - 325(f) throughout the cookery produces a tender, succulent, and above all economic result. The time has now gone when we can afford to let such expensive meat cuts evaporate."

Basically, then, he has you stud the leg with garlic slices (jam them into slits you cut in the leg - I actually skip this step). Preheat oven to 300 - 325.

Then rub the joint well with salt and pepper.

Dust the leg all over with flour (this really helps, creating a nice crust and stopping juice from leaking past).

The biggie: "Place the joint directly on the rungs of your oven shelf with a roasting dish underneath. In this way you get all-round circulation of hot air, and it definitely improves the quality. Always put the joint in fat side uppermoast. Roast for approx. 30 minutes per pound - internal temperature of 168 degrees (f)."

So: right on the oven rack. Not on a half sheet, pan, or anything else. You can put aromaticc/root veggies in the pan underneath (I usually do). And he adds, "Unless the joint is very lean, do not baste during cookery".

BTW, simple seared lamb shoulder chops, pan sauce deglazed with red wine, raspberry jam, and thyme or rosemary is da bomb. Just sayin'. Five minutes, and you're a god.
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Re: Tell me about lamb

Postby Jenise » Sun Apr 28, 2013 7:50 pm

Tom, great post.

Hopefully I'm younger than your mom but I remember Graham very well! And check this out:

http://www.wineloverspage.com/forum/village/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=44026&p=359996#p359996

Btw, using sugar for crusting is something I've long been a fan of, having figured out early early on that meats marinated in sweet matter browned up more effectively than those without, and long before I ever knew anyone else had even considered it I was sprinkling a little sugar directly onto steaks and fish just to attract Mr. Maillard.

Glad to see you reccomend lamb shoulder chops. The shoulder's fattier and one must pick through the gristle and bones, but it's the best tasting meat on the whole animal. We love it, too. Which reminds me, when I was a kid lamb shoulder roasts were commonplace, but at least out here on the left coast, they've completely left the planet. They're always cut into blade steaks. Are things different back east?
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Re: Tell me about lamb

Postby GeoCWeyer » Mon Apr 29, 2013 3:01 am

Basically sheep meat is a lot like venison. When cooked it's fat when starting to cool is like tallow. For best results, unless you are roasting a whole lamb, remove almost all it's fat and replace it with fat/oil from another source. If you are grinding some of it add a little pork or pork fat. In roasting it citrus juices are great for basting.

Roasting a whole lamb is quite easy. Splay the lamb and hang it on a tilted old bed spring. Build your hard wood fire on the far end and just keep shoveling the coals underneath when needed. Low and slow is the key. We always used a mop of citrus juice or vinegar, olive oil, garlic, oregano salt, pepper and a little dried red pepper. Basically a chimichurri without the parsley.

We would do 7 or so for a town picnic fund raiser each year when I lived in Uruguay. The money raised was used for a school lunch program on Saturdays during the winter and for presents to hand out to the kids for Reyes.

In my homesteading period back in MN I used to raise a couple of lambs each year and butcher them myself. With the exception of the shanks and ribs I boned them like I do deer. If you have the butchered/cut up by someone, be sure to ask for the ribs! Most places just cut the scrap off for ground meat. The ribs are really delicious roasted with a really citrus based American style BBQ mop.
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Re: Tell me about lamb

Postby Tom NJ » Mon Apr 29, 2013 8:55 am

Jenise wrote:...I remember Graham very well! Check this out: http://www.wineloverspage.com/forum/village/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=44026&p=359996#p359996


Oh my god, you met The Man hisself?? Lol - I love how you describe his disproportionally large head. (No wonder Merv never called on me. Crummy hypoencephalitis :( ). What a great recounting of your pastry brush with fame! I still think it sucks though that he's disavowed real food. Please tell me he still at least wears velour tuxes everywhere!

Hey hey - how come you knew about the whole sugar-browning trick this whole time and never told me?? Here I've been searing roasters on all sides for 15 minutes at least, creating enough spatter every time that my poor wife/slave would then have to scrub for hours. I almost felt bad enough to share the food with her! But I kept saying to myself, "if there was a faster way to brown these things, Jenise would have told me by now". So I shut up and kept doing it. Some friend!

Lamb shoulder chops are very common out here, with both American and Aussie producers well represented. For a long time they were my go-to quick meal favorite, but skyrocketing lamb prices over the last couple of years means I haven't tasted them in quite some time. Even shanks, which butchers used to almost beg me to take at a buck a pound, now aren't too far behind loin chops price-wise. Those I particularly miss, as they were so versatile. I used to love a version I had the The Turkish Kitchen in NYC: dust with Turkish spices, wrap in very thinly sliced eggplant leafs, then braise and serve over orzo. It was visually impressive as well as extraordinarily fragrant.

No get on the phone and have Graham call me. I need him to fly out and autograph my book!
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Re: Tell me about lamb

Postby Carl Eppig » Mon Apr 29, 2013 11:59 am

GeoCWeyer wrote:Basically sheep meat is a lot like venison. When cooked it's fat when starting to cool is like tallow. For best results, unless you are roasting a whole lamb, remove almost all it's fat and replace it with fat/oil from another source. If you are grinding some of it add a little pork or pork fat. In roasting it citrus juices are great for basting.

Roasting a whole lamb is quite easy. Splay the lamb and hang it on a tilted old bed spring. Build your hard wood fire on the far end and just keep shoveling the coals underneath when needed. Low and slow is the key. We always used a mop of citrus juice or vinegar, olive oil, garlic, oregano salt, pepper and a little dried red pepper. Basically a chimichurri without the parsley.

We would do 7 or so for a town picnic fund raiser each year when I lived in Uruguay. The money raised was used for a school lunch program on Saturdays during the winter and for presents to hand out to the kids for Reyes.

In my homesteading period back in MN I used to raise a couple of lambs each year and butcher them myself. With the exception of the shanks and ribs I boned them like I do deer. If you have the butchered/cut up by someone, be sure to ask for the ribs! Most places just cut the scrap off for ground meat. The ribs are really delicious roasted with a really citrus based American style BBQ mop.


George, you must have different lamb and deer up your way than we do. True love won't touch venison (for taste, not for social reasons), and loves lamb. As far a fat is concerned I agree that you need to add it to venison, but I find nothing wrong with lamb fat. To each his/hers own I guess.
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Re: Tell me about lamb

Postby Frank Deis » Mon Apr 29, 2013 1:50 pm

I have never understood the lamb and mint thing. :?:

I've been served lamb with mint my whole life. I think it might be most appropriate with "mutton" -- a leg from a sheep will have a much stronger odor, that mutton-y smell, and mint might help take your mind off of the stinkiness. But younger lambs, which is mostly what you see, have leg meat that honestly is a little hard to distinguish from a good beefsteak IMO, especially when butterflied and marinated. Would you smear mint jelly on a T-bone? I didn't think so.

Anyway I just scrape it off to the side and ignore it if I can. But when I bought those pre-cooked Costco lamb shanks it was in the sauce and so annoying that I resolved to just cook my own lamb shanks and not buy the Costco ones. :evil:
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Re: Tell me about lamb

Postby GeoCWeyer » Mon Apr 29, 2013 3:58 pm

Carl Eppig wrote:George, you must have different lamb and deer up your way than we do. True love won't touch venison (for taste, not for social reasons), and loves lamb. As far a fat is concerned I agree that you need to add it to venison, but I find nothing wrong with lamb fat. To each his/hers own I guess.


The older the lamb, the stronger the flavor of the fat. With lamb as with venison it also depends upon the age of the critter. The older the animal the stronger flavors of the fat. To me actual mutton tastes similar to strong tasting poorly processed venison. Young deer, fawn and yearlings when "processed" correctly from field to kitchen are very mild in flavor. In cooking both lamb and venison I never try to mask the flavors of the natural meat. Having good tasting venison depends on the skill of the hunter, the timing of and skill of the person doing the butchering and packing, and the cook doing the preparation. Purchased lamb is more idiot proofed.

FYI
The Fats and Oils: a General View
By Carl L. Alsberg and Alonzo E. Taylor
Cattle and Sheep Fats or Tallow
The fat from cattle and sheep is known as tallow (French, suif; German, Taig). Sheep fat is rarely used for edible purposes because of the difficulty of removing its strong flavor and odor. It is widely used for soap and candle making and in lubricants.
journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library/fatsoils/fatsoils3a.html
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Re: Tell me about lamb

Postby Jim Cassidy » Mon Apr 29, 2013 4:55 pm

Robert, from the discussion between Carl and George, I'd say a major factor is making sure you harvest early enough. Not sure when the flavor changes, but I'd probably err on the side of taste, and not really consider size. And I don't know what effect your "free range" policy might have on the meat relative to industrial lamb; since yours may be getting way more exercise than the others, you might have to harvest even earlier.

I think I recall you preferring meat well done. That might rule out my favorite lamb recipe, chops rubbed with crushed garlic, seasoned with salt and pepper browned in olive oil and butter. Throw some chopped shallots and herbs in the pan for a minute, deglaze with the red you are drinking with dinner, reduce and finish the sauce w/butter.

Might be too dry if you finished the chops to well done in the oven.
Jim Cassidy

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(The prettiest vineyard in the Salt Lake Valley)
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Re: Tell me about lamb

Postby Jenise » Mon Apr 29, 2013 6:19 pm

Frank Deis wrote:I have never understood the lamb and mint thing. :?: Would you smear mint jelly on a T-bone? I didn't think so.


Frank, I can't stand mint jelly either, but fresh mint in a savory pan sauce or in the couscous you put underneath your chops is a terrific choice.
My wine shopping and I have never had a problem. Just a perpetual race between the bankruptcy court and Hell.--Rogov
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