A popular meat around the globe, lamb is raised and consumed on nearly every continent. Many cultures have iconic dishes based on this delicious meat. Lamb is roasted and stuffed into pitas with yogurt sauce to make the iconic gyros of Greece, it’s the meat of choice in Mongolian barbecue, and it’s charcoal-roasted whole in Chile.
But according to a recent study by the American Lamb Board, 35% of men and women polled stated that they had never eaten lamb. If you fall into that category, it’s time to give lamb a try! Lamb is delicious and versatile, fitting as easily into an entertaining menu as a quick weeknight dinner. Roasted or grilled leg of lamb makes an impressive entree at your next celebration; quick-cooking chops pair perfectly with a variety of side dishes and ground lamb is delicious in meatballs or pasta sauces. And if you’re striving to buy more of your food locally, there are lamb farms in every state.
What you get: Lamb is a great source of protein, iron and zinc and it also delivers a healthy dose of vitamin B12 and niacin. As with most other red meats, lamb is relatively high in fat—particularly saturated fat; to lower the fat content, trim all visible fat and drain fat drippings from cooked ground lamb.
Shopping Tip: Lamb is divided into five basic cuts for cooking: shoulder (arm), rack, foreshank or breast, loin and leg. The leanest cuts of lamb come from the shoulder, loin and leg. The shoulder, foreshank or breast, and leg are tougher, more suitable for longer, moist-heat cooking methods, such as braising and stewing. The rack and loin are more tender; use quicker, dry-heat cooking, such as roasting or sautéing. Ground lamb is also readily available and can be used in the same ways as ground beef.
Storage Tip: Lamb should be refrigerated immediately after purchase. Lamb meat can also be frozen—just be sure to wrap the original package in airtight freezer wrap or store in an airtight freezer bag to prevent freezer burn. Use frozen lamb within 3-4 months for the best quality.
Visit an Indian market to find various blends of garam masala, a popular spice mix. You'll also find it in the specialty-spice section at the supermarket or at Indian markets on the Web like www.kalustyans.com.
Sure, orzo is good in soup, but there's no need to stop there. Here it's a base for a bold blend of spices, tomato sauce and flavorful ground lamb. The optional pinch of crushed red pepper will add the heat that many crave.
Heavy on exotic spices, this decadent sandwich is a great way to familiarize yourself with the joys of Turkish cooking. Lean turkey blended with lamb lightens the mix. Stuff the patties into warm pita bread or roll the mixture into meatballs and serve with the yogurt sauce on the side as an hors d'oeuvre.
Here's an example of everyday simplicity taken to elegant heights—a lovely chickpea and vegetable salad, topped with warm strips of lamb. Hearty yet light for a warm night, this supper could be followed up with Iced Lychees.