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Buying a leg of lamb


powerdog
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I'd say it depends how high end the butcher is. Most lamb seems to come from Australia, New Zealand, or occasionally Iceland, and is probably all more or less the same. There are of course many boutique, organic farms that raise sheep for meat, so if it's a very high end butcher, you might be getting that. Unless I'm very much mistaken, sheep don't put up with industrial farming the way chickens, pigs, or even cows do, so I think even the de facto base-level lamb here is decent quality.

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You might find some variation in the taste from region to region depending on local conditions eg salt marshes, wet pastures, wind-swept craggy slopes, and the breed of sheep. I think the quality on the whole is excellent. If you buy very cheap the freezing/handling might not be very good, which you might notice. Or the meat could be old, generally not a problem from a supermarket. I think there's more chance of getting the age of sheep you want if you know where to go, ie spring lamb/lamb/hogget, mutton. Asian shops are a good source of mutton. Or if you like halal.

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the size of the legs available will help you determine the lambs age., and that can affect the flavor.

 

the legs in my better supermarket chain are not as large as those at a warehouse chain.

 

a specialty butcher might be able to get you larger thus older lamb.  at a premium Id bet.

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I'd say it depends how high end the butcher is. Most lamb seems to come from Australia, New Zealand, or occasionally Iceland, and is probably all more or less the same. There are of course many boutique, organic farms that raise sheep for meat, so if it's a very high end butcher, you might be getting that. Unless I'm very much mistaken, sheep don't put up with industrial farming the way chickens, pigs, or even cows do, so I think even the de facto base-level lamb here is decent quality.

 

I don't know where the poster is but, if it's in the US, Colorado is currently considered by many to be producing the best lamb:

 

http://www.denverpost.com/food/ci_5682099

 

That's where my butcher has been getting it for me.

Edited by Jaymes (log)

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I'm in Vermont. Actually, we belong to a coop of local farms. (You pay the coop, order items that the various farms produce, the cost is deducted from your remaining balance, and you pick up the whole order at a local store.) Anyway, I just looked and leg of lamb from this area is about $14-17 a pound, and that's for both bone-in and boneless. The pieces are 3-5 pounds each, so you could easily spend $60 or more. Unless supermarket lamb is considerably less, lamb may just be beyond my budget.

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I would suggest you buy a whole lamb from a local farm.. Actually, the local farm was my wife's cousins front yard.   I just purchased two whole lamb and the whole thing was like 200 bucks for close to 60 pounds of meat.  

 

But yeh, supermarkets are garbage for the most part.   It's a safe rule to follow. 

Edited by basquecook (log)
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I'm in Vermont. Actually, we belong to a coop of local farms. (You pay the coop, order items that the various farms produce, the cost is deducted from your remaining balance, and you pick up the whole order at a local store.) Anyway, I just looked and leg of lamb from this area is about $14-17 a pound, and that's for both bone-in and boneless. The pieces are 3-5 pounds each, so you could easily spend $60 or more. Unless supermarket lamb is considerably less, lamb may just be beyond my budget.

Wow! I just bought two A Grade legs at my high-end butcher in Cape Town, equivalent to $3.55 p/pound - and I thought he was ripping me off! Lamb is our most expensive meat here but is also very common as we farm sheep extensively in South Africa. The one leg is for an Easter roast done the Greek way and the other is for cutting up for a big pot of curry.

John.

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"" $3.55 p/pound ""

what does the 'p' represent ?

although a bit off topic, what do other 'routine' meats go for in S.A. ?

p/pound = per pound

Beef rump was $3.77 p/pound and no fat beef mince was $3.62 p/pound - also bought today.

John.

Edited by JohnT (log)

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that's equivalent to USA Dollars ?  having a nice S.A. red with that I hope ?

Yes, that is our Rand p/kg converted to your US $ p/pound. And yes the wine is good.

All this said, the price of lamb is far cheaper in the large supermarkets, but I am very hesitant to purchase any meat in the supermarkets as there is no way to determine the region it comes from, how long it has been in their distribution centers or how long it has been in the supermarkets cold room. I have seen too many supermarket "butchers" with their little meat scrapers cleaning cut meat to make it look fresh in the display!

John.

Cape Town - At the foot of a flat topped mountain with a tablecloth covering it.

Some time ago we had Johnny Cash, Bob Hope and Steve Jobs. Now we have no Cash, no Hope and no Jobs. Please don't let Kevin Bacon die.

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There's great lamb from Pennsylvania, too. I noticed several years ago most of the better chefs in NYC getting their lamb from Jamison Farm, then a few years later from Arcadian Pastures.

 

I had a chance to test a recipe with my butcher's New Zealand lamb, then his Colorado lamb, and then the final meal I made with lamb he special ordered from Jamison. He came to the dinner. We didn't care for the way the farm had cut the racks , but it was the best tasting lamb either of us had had. The Colorado was in 2nd place followed by the NZ.

 

That said, the differences were nothing like what you'd notice between supermarket and boutique beef or poultry or pork.

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Back to powerdog's question - have you cooked lamb before and what sort of recipe were you intending for the leg? We can talk about supermarket, versus local farms and all agree on certain points, but if you just want to try out some lamb and not break the bank - perhaps a frozen NZ leg in a marinated prep might fit your experiment?

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... Anyway, I just looked and leg of lamb from this area is about $14-17 a pound, and that's for both bone-in and boneless. The pieces are 3-5 pounds each, so you could easily spend $60 or more. Unless supermarket lamb is considerably less, lamb may just be beyond my budget.

those prices are about the same as ordering from D'Artagnan, which is also very high quality, and reliable

 

either way, cheaper than good tuna!

 

 

 

http://www.dartagnan.com/Boneless-Leg-of-Lamb/FLALE004-1,default,pd.html?dwvar_FLALE004-1_freshFrozenWeight=Fresh%20%2f%204%2e5-5%2e5%20lbs%20avg%2e&cgid=Shoulder_Shanks_Leg_of_Lamb#start=3

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Well, I was planning to roast the lamb with root veggies. There are only two of us, we don't eat much meat, and we're having a couple over for dinner. So a whole lamb is way beyond our needs. I vaguely remember that the supermarket lamb is identified as from NZ, but I don't know if there are differences from store to store. I'm hoping that with enough garlic and herbs, it'll taste good regardless.

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