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Sourcing & Purchasing Lamb


Mano
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I'll be making rack of lamb on New Years Eve and don't know if the US grown lamb is worth 2-3 x the price of New Zealand or Australian lamb. I also have an untrained eye when it comes to grading lamb regardless of origin.

My wife sometimes buys NZ racks of mini chops at Trader Joes and they taste perfectly fine. Costco has whole racks of NZ but won't give a price on the phone. Locally, here in the Philadelphia area, lamb prices at butcher shops are all over the place.

On line I can get Niman Ranch for about $40/lb delivered or through Costco at a shade over $30/lb. Both price points give me nose bleeds.

Any recommendations would be appreciated.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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I'll be making rack of lamb on New Years Eve and don't know if the US grown lamb is worth 2-3 x the price of New Zealand or Australian lamb.  I also have an untrained eye when it comes to grading lamb regardless of origin.

My wife sometimes buys NZ racks of mini chops at Trader Joes and they taste perfectly fine.  Costco has whole racks of NZ but won't give a price on the phone.  Locally, here in the Philadelphia area, lamb prices at butcher shops are all over the place. 

On line I can get Niman Ranch for about $40/lb delivered or through Costco at a shade over $30/lb.  Both price points give me nose bleeds.

Any recommendations would be appreciated.

I can't speak about US lamb specifically but I would assume that it is similar to Canadian lamb. I will pay the extra for the local Alberta lamb as I find it is milder and less muttony in flavor than the Aus/NZ lamb which is all we used to be able to get. 2-3 x the price? Probably not worth it if you already like the stuff you're getting.

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Venison America (www.venisonamerica.com) in Hudson Wisc is having a year end reduction sale. He has a lot of lamb products at ridiculously low prices. THis is all restaurant quality food available to the general public.

Tell Steve, Roger sent you!

doc

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Generally, I find that U.S. lamb has a less lamb-y taste than the imports. And since I like strong lamb, I favor the imports, especially, when it's in season, the Icelandic lamb, which Whole Foods sells at an occasionally reasonable price in the fall. Not in season right now, however. If your guests don't like lamb-y lamb, go for American meat.

In Philadelphia, I can recommend most of the butchers at the Reading Terminal Market (Guinta's Prime Shop, Harry Ochs, and Martin's; Halteman doesn't sell lamb), though they pretty much just have American lamb. In addition, the Fair Food Farmstand at the RTM sells both Jamison and Meadow Run product, though for a rack you'd have to special order in advance; most of the FFF's meats come frozen, so factor in defrosting time.

Among all the major meats, lamb is probably the least industrialized, so I'd have no qualms buying through Costco or BJ's. In fact, the racks at BJ's were certainly less than $20/pound when I looked last week (they might even have been closer to $10, but I don't recall precisely). Unsure if they were American or imported, but they looked fine and it was a good deal.

Bob Libkind aka "rlibkind"

Robert's Market Report

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Lamb from NZ is generally pastured as lamb in many areas in North America is fed on grains. I also prefer NZ lamb to the generic "local" lamb but I am sure you can get even better local lamb if you seek it out. I personnaly don't like very young lamb and tend to prefer pastured lamb.

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As stated, imported lamb is grass fed while most US lamb is finished on grain and can be had USDA Graded.

We get our lamb local grown in Wisconsin from Pinn-Oaks http://www.wisconsinlamb.com/ , fresh, not frozen and its simply marvelous. Used to get excellent USDA Prime at a Greek grocery in Chicago but have not been there for ages.

Aus and NZ are good for marinade and then BBQ on grill but for a great classic lamb dish, its US grain fed.-Dick

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As stated, imported lamb is grass fed while most US lamb is finished on grain and can be had USDA Graded.

We get our lamb local grown in Wisconsin from Pinn-Oaks http://www.wisconsinlamb.com/ , fresh, not frozen and its simply marvellous. Used to get excellent USDA Prime at a Greek grocery in Chicago but have not been there for ages.

Aus and NZ are good for marinade and then BBQ on grill but for a great classic lamb dish, its US grain fed.-Dick

I usually prefer the one that walks in all four grassing around that is "natural" lamb usuallyvery tender and nowhere near the taste of mutton as I have tried in US. Some prefer NZ over Aussie lamb because of tenderness. Not sure of that but in any case feed me Aussie or NZ any time mate.

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I was interested to read how many of you mentioned the good taste of Icelandic lamb. I raise Icelandics.

Most all Icelandics (North America as well as Iceland) are pasture animals (hayed in the winter if dictated by climate) and do not get much at all in the way of grain. They are naturally more lean than most commercial breeds of sheep, and actually carry their fat differently. Maybe these things have something to do with their milder flavor. They are also smaller than commercial sheep at conventional slaughter ages -- and market weights are often considerably less.

What we have found is that even older Icelandics (definitely in the age category of mutton) are still milder than much of the imported young lamb. About the only complaints I have heard are from people who end up having to make sausage out of a ram if he is slaughtered during breeding season. While not as bad as goat bucks, the rams do get pretty rammy smelling. Out of breeding season, the meat seems just fine.

I guess it is obvious that I would love for more Americans to insist on American lamb. It is almost impossible to find any -- but the American Lamb Board is trying!

M Jackson

“Cheese has always been a food that both sophisticated and simple humans love.”

M.F.K. Fisher, How to Cook a Wolf (1942)

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Mutton is not sold anywhere i know of in the US.-Dick

More's the pitty. I like mutton. I've got a friend getting into sheep farming soon though and I should be able to get a supply from him in the future.

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Lamb from NZ is generally pastured as lamb in many areas in North America is fed on grains. I also prefer NZ lamb to the generic "local" lamb but I am sure you can get even better local lamb if you seek it out. I personnaly don't like very young lamb and tend to prefer pastured lamb.

All NZ lamb is pastured.....we dont do barns. :wink:

If you can ever get hold of some hogget GO FOR IT! That is one tasty piece of meat and even better than that is a 2 tooth blackface that has been home killed. A treat even for this Kiwi farm girl. Sad but true.

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Thank you all for your input. We ended up buying Frenched Aussie baby racks of lamb from Costco at a very reasonable $11 a pound. It was very good.

Interestingly, when we learned two more people would be joining us we bought American lamb at a local supermarket for $17/lb. It wasn't nearly as tasty and we had to trim about 3 oz. of fat from each of the two 10 oz packages.

We made Tom Colicchio's Rack of Lamb with Roasted Tomato Jus and served it with a Worthy Sophie's Cuvee 2004 and a Seghesio 2007 Sonoma Zin.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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...

If you can ever get hold of some hogget GO FOR IT! 

Is it possible to buy hogget or mutton in the U.S.? I've never seen it, but I'm thinking that there must be some markets that cater to ethnic populations that would carry it. Given the general dislike of lamb that tastes like lamb, hogget or mutton would be a stretch for most people here. Still, I'd think that someone somewhere must be selling it...

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Recommended Purveyor: Jamison Farms Lamb, Latrobe, Pa. They have a web site. They raise nothing but lamb. High quality purveyor to restaurants, clubs and individuals. Well organized and responsive. I've ordered from them about 10 times--never disappointed.

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...

If you can ever get hold of some hogget GO FOR IT! 

Is it possible to buy hogget or mutton in the U.S.? I've never seen it, but I'm thinking that there must be some markets that cater to ethnic populations that would carry it. Given the general dislike of lamb that tastes like lamb, hogget or mutton would be a stretch for most people here. Still, I'd think that someone somewhere must be selling it...

I'm in Atlantic Canada where the lamb market is extremely underdeveloped. Fortunately, there are some progressive purveyors and restaurateurs, and some enlightened ethnic groups that (thankfully) create some demand. Lamb legs, racks and chops can be found at the grocery store, but mutton and hogget can only be had from the farms out of town. In my experience, lean mutton is one of the greatest red meat deals around. Farmers can hardly give it away, but if you trim the white stuff and treat it with some care -- very hard to beat.

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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