Lamb has often been a traditional food for Easter. My family will be enjoying a grassfed leg of lamb this Sunday, using traditional flavorings. Lamb may just be the most popular meat in the world, enjoyed in Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America, not to mention Australia and New Zealand.
But usually not in the United States. Americans generally dislike lamb, and rarely eat it. Many Americans who taste American lamb find it gamy and not tasty.
But there are specific reasons why some American lamb tastes this way. The right kind of lamb, raised on its natural feed, properly spiced and cooked, is some of the most delicious meat you will ever eat.
The Problems with American Lamb
American lamb used to be wonderful, especially lamb raised in the west, by experienced Basque shepherds. But times have changed.
Most of the lamb in the world is grassfed only. But not in the United States. Most American lamb is finished on grain. This causes the lambs to grow bigger and faster, and increases profits. However, lamb, more than any other meat, tastes like what it eats. Most of the grains fed to lamb are the same GMO corn and GMO soy fed to factory cattle. Grain feeding, in my opinion, totally ruins the taste of lamb. Grass feeding, on rich pastures full of wild herbs, can give a wonderful taste to lamb.
Another problem is that much American lamb comes from breeds developed for wool, not meat. These wool breeds often have a bad taste and smell that meat breeds do not have.
American lamb is also too big, which has a negative effect on taste. The standards as to what can be called lamb are quite lax in the U.S., and older animals can now legally be sold as lamb. The selling of older lambs also contributes to the size problem.
Here is an example. A leg of lamb in the U.S. often weighs eight to ten pounds, or even more. In most other countries, a leg of lamb is closer to four to five pounds in weight.
Lamb also needs to be cooked properly. Traditional cuisines cook lamb with a variety of herbs, spices, vegetables, and marinades that really enhance its taste and provide absolutely wonderful meat. Americans generally do not know how to cook lamb.
The Grassfed Solution
Lamb should only be grassfed, in my opinion. The flavor is far superior, especially if the pasture is good, and it also has the health benefits of grassfed meat. Grassfed lamb can be found in the U.S., though it can take some effort. I have also found good grassfed lamb in the U.S. that is imported from New Zealand. Some imported and domestic grassfed lamb can be incredibly expensive, so it pays to shop carefully and compare prices.
Lamb should also come from a meat breed, rather than a wool breed. There are some breeds that are supposed to be equally good for meat and wool, but I personally prefer the flavor of a meat breed, raised on grass.
I also try to buy meat from smaller lambs, as I find the flavor to be milder and superior. This can be a challenge, but is well worth the effort.
It is also important to know how to cook the lamb, and to use some of the traditional flavorings that have enhanced the flavor of lamb for thousands of years. My cookbooks Tender Grassfed Meat and Tender Grassfed Barbecue have many delicious recipes for lamb using traditional ingredients. These include garlic, green herbs such as rosemary and thyme, traditional olive oil, fresh lemon juice, and others.
Here is a link to a recipe for grassfed lamb that I developed for Easter, which is an example of how good grassfed lamb really can be.
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.