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Lamb fight!


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I used to subscribe to Cook's Illustrated, but let my subscription lapse. I shelled out an ungodly amount for the current issue at Borders, just to catch up on things, and what did I see? The magazine's tasters apparently pronounced Aussie and Kiwi lamb 'too gamy' for their tastes, and preferred milder-tasting American lamb, which isn't grass-fed.

My partner and I were outraged. Lamb is supposed to taste like lamb! Lamb fat is one of the tastiest substances known to man (or at least me). Later in the recipe they give, they mention "trimming off as much fat as possible" since "Lamb's gamy flavo(u)r comes mostly from the fat". What's going to make all the pumpkin and whatnot you put under your roast taste yummy, then? I ask you.

If you'd like to tell these Yanks where to go, email them at notesfromreaders@bcpress.com, referencing the "Rethinking Roasted Leg of Lamb" article in the April 2006 issue.

Aussie aussie aussie! Oi oi oi!

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Maybe we could send Slammin' Sam Kekovich to sort out the Amercians. :raz:

Still, I can see their point. I love lamb, but there are times when I can't handle the thought of eating it as it can taste "too gamey". However, there have been restaurants that I'vegone to, and they've used lamb with a much softer flavour - if U.S. lamb is like that, then maybe the magazine has a point (especially if it was a blind tasting).

On lamb and fat though, I usually trim most of the fat off if I'm barbequing it - the fat burns and the residue leaves that dreadful charcoal flavour on the meat.

Anyway, what's everyones favourite lamb recipe? Mine has to be the 7 hour roast leg of lamb. The recipe that Stephanie Alexander has in "Cooking and Travelling In South West France" is a particular favourite.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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I'm with you on this one. Our lamb is very very good.

If I sent them a self addressed envelope, will they send me some USDA approved beef back?

I'm an Aussie but god damn do they have good meats over there!

Edited by The Chefs Office (log)

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I'm an Aussie but god damn do they have good meats over there!

The missus lived in the U.S. for a few years and she talks about how the servings of meat (well, food in general) in the U.S. were super large compared to what we get here. A few other friends have said the same thing.

I did wonder about the quality, so it's good tohear that you rate it.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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Living North of the U.S. I can say thank god Canada is part of the Commonwealth and most of our lamb if not local is from Australia or NZ. Lamb from both Australia and New Zealand is far superior to anything I've tried from the U.S.

Cheers,

Stephen Bonner

Vancouver

"who needs a wine list when you can get pissed on dessert" Gordon Ramsey Kitchen Nightmares 2005

MY BLOG

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We use a lot of Australian and New Zealand lamb produst here in Canada and like the distinctive grassy finish. Much North American lamb is very mild; like toast, it's all about what (sauce, curry, herb treatment etc.) it's marinated in or served with.

We especially like the smaller size of Australian lamb shanks - they make for a great osso buco.

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

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I sometimes wonder about lamb - maybe it's one of those meats that was really meant to be eaten locally.

As for the grassfed taste, I think it must be a cultural like/dislike. Born in NZ, I don't always care for the taste of grainfed meat - at worst, I feel as if I'm eating grease with no added flavor. But grassfed lamb is going to start tasting stronger sooner, I guess (possibly it gets more exercise too?).

In any case, you can't cook hogget like spring lamb, and expect it to taste the same - though I suppose that's what happens if you want "large" lamb portions! Also, I don't know (and would be curious to find out) the age at slaughter of the southern hemisphere lamb sold in north america for the Easter table? (Or for the spring market, anyway.)

I find the best lamb chops from NZ are in the shops in winter in Japan, which may be to do with the slaughter season, and may be to do with the time of the year the Japanese consumer wants to eat lamb, and may be to do with the time of the year that other markets want lamb. I don't know enough to do more than guess.

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Regarding the quality of "Australian, New Zealand and American Lamb" the self appointed experts at "Cooks Magazine" show a considerable lack of knowledge with very little time spent in research or actual evaluations of product.

The main difference between the Lamb is in the way it's slaughtered, butchered, packed and shipped.

The majority of Lamb imported is totally based upon the exporter/purchaser in the markets being sold. Importers want consistency so they generally specify a specific Lamb carcass size before it's been butchered, boxed and shipped.

If a customer requests lamb cut from a carcass that weighs 39/42 pounds whole the Racks and Loins will reflect that size. Many domestic purveyors in the states use a larger carcass, reflecting the size of each cut.

Most Restaurants/Retailers prefer a Rack Cut French Style that averages from 13/15 ounces each dressed rack, suitable for serving as a whole "Rack of Lamb".

These are cut for export quickly after being slaughtered to specifications, vacuum sealed and almost always for export "FLASH FROZEN". Experienced Restaurateurs will take to time to use a very old fashioned method of letting these Racks age in their controlled temperature refrigeration to allow the serums to cause the enzymes in the Lamb to naturally age it and improve, tenderness, flavor and character before serving. I suspect that only about 20% of Chefs have the knowledge or experience to do this correctly.

If the Lamb compared with American Lamb was previously frozen without skillful tempering prior to cooking it would taste different. There is actually very little Lamb being sold domestically that has been Corn Fed at any feedlot long enough to be fattened or effect it's flavor. It is generally allowed a longer time at the slaughter house to rest as more Lamb Carcass are broken by wholesalers and suppliers in most markets. It's only recently that boxed Lamb is becoming popular.

The grass pastures in New Zealand are considered some of the best in the World. Australia is more comparable to our own pasture quality.

Some of the more expensive Restaurants feature domestic Lamb that they hang in their aging room alongside the beef providing excellent quality, but priced as high as the beef cuts.

The fat covers on dressed carcass Lamb are all very similar if the weight of the carcass are similar.

If you think about what a fat cover on a aged Rib Steak tastes like it won't be appreciably different them a aged Rib Lamb Chops fat cover as any exterior fat has been removed and most fat after broiling almost never has a gamy taste.

The only Lamb fat that I ever have seen a gamy edge on is from "Mutton Steaks or Chops" served in England or Europe that had been aged several months as is traditional. Leaving more fat on the chops is also expected as is cooking it rare. The customers are eating this because they saviour that high game taste on the other side of the Atlantic that most Americans have never tried eating.

I posted this from the top of my head as I haven't yet mastered cutting and pasting my posts, but I am sure about my facts and will answer any queries from eGulleters. I have worked closely with the Austalian, New Zealand, Argentine and American meat groups thru the years to stabilize International standards but there are variations in supplying every market that must be accomodated.

Irwin

I don't say that I do. But don't let it get around that I don't.

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Anyway, what's everyones favourite lamb recipe?  Mine has to be the 7 hour roast leg of lamb.  The recipe that Stephanie Alexander has in "Cooking and Travelling In South West France" is a particular favourite.

The Tony Bourdain seven hour lamb is good as well.

I heartily agree regarding Sam Kekovich. :)

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I disagree with the Cook's article. The Australian lamb we've had has been better than the American lamb we've eaten. In general, I'd say the quality of meat in Australia is better than that in America. In fact, when we lived in the States we stopped eating meat until we could find farm raised animals locally. While it may sound drastic, it made us think about what we put in our mouths and how we felt about taste. If I had my druthers though, I'd eat NZ spring lamb as I really do love the taste. That's what it's all about, for me, anyway.

If only Jack Nicholson could have narrated my dinner, it would have been perfect.

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Favorite lamb recipe? As long as we're talking lamb and not hogget or older, it would have to be a grilled chop or rack - we get it so rarely, it would be sinful to prepare it any other way :biggrin: .

But I've started to find thin-sliced rolls of frozen...er...something older than lamb... that look as if they come to Japan for the mongolian barbecue market. When I find those, I like to get out my Afghan cookbook (GHelen Saberi). The mix of fat and lean is just right for those various dumplings which appear across central Asia with Chinese chives/mint/green coriander.

My favorite is Ashak - thin pastry skins filled with drained yogurt, Chinese chives, a bit of red pepper etc, boiled, and topped with hand-chopped lamb fried with onions. A good, flavorful hogget with some fat content is just right for this!

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I say bah to cooks illustrated and shame on you for the continued dumbing down of the American palate. Perhaps they won't be happy until everyone is eating factory farmed chicken, feedlotted, grainfed, wet aged cattle and lamb that is completely pink and flavourless.

Why not embrace the quintessentially lamby flavour in all it's glory rather than denying it's heritage?

PS: I am a guy.

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Why not embrace the quintessentially lamby flavour in all it's glory rather than denying it's heritage?

Exactamundo. I don't eat a lot of meat, so when I do indulge, I want to eat meat that tastes like meat, not like chewy tofu.

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The Tony Bourdain seven hour lamb is good as well.

The method in the Bourdain and Alexander recipes are pretty much the same.

But Alexander's recipe has two key differences. The first one is that she suggests inserting a third of an anchovie fillet into the meat with the garlic. The second difference....and for me, this is one that takes this dish to the next level....is that she reccomends putting a piece of pork rind with 5mm of fat onto the bottom of the pot (with the fat side down). It adds a wonderful flavour and texture to the sauce, and the rind, whilst very filling, is utterly delicious.

Daniel Chan aka "Shinboners"
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The strange thing to me is that I find the Aussy/NZ lamb I get in Canada is far superior to the stuff that I can buy when in Australia (have yet to buy NZ lamb in NZ but that is on the to do list for this weekend). With the exception of a few select hard to get to butchers in Australia I think they send most of the good stuff away. We have also had a hard time finding any red meat with much marbling in it whereas in Canada even Safeway can carry some decent meat.

We use a lot of Australian and New Zealand lamb produst here in Canada and like the distinctive grassy finish. Much North American lamb is very mild; like toast, it's all about what (sauce, curry, herb treatment etc.) it's marinated in or served with.

We especially like the smaller size of Australian lamb shanks - they make for a great osso buco.

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What I find frustrating, as an american who LOVES gamey lamb, is that lately (last 2 years or so?) even the Australian lamb I've been able to buy here has been less flavorful. It's like the exporters are dumbing their lamb down for the US palate or something :sad: or are y'all just selling us your rejects? :wink:

Next week I'll be playing with some lamb that a friend's family raised "grass only" I'll be interested to see how it tastes comparatively. Here's hoping for some serious lambiness!

Do you suffer from Acute Culinary Syndrome? Maybe it's time to get help...

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In my experience, lamb from any of the sources available to me (in Southern California) is quite mild in flavor. But then, lamb is a favorite in our household, so we are looking for lamb-flavored lamb.

The Superior Farms stuff from (I think) Colorado has been unfailingly excellent, and I am glad it is easy to get. Just cooked some Australian rib chops (from a Trader Joe's fresh rack) that were stupendously good. I have found the little NZ racks to be very very, maybe too, mild.

Edited to add, Cook's Illustrated has the uncanny ability to make just about anything they cover entirely UNappetizing.

Edited by Priscilla (log)

Priscilla

Writer, cook, & c. ● #TacoFriday observant ●  Twitter    Instagram

 

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I had no experience with Australian meats until I moved to Japan where most of the imported beef and lamb currently comes from Australia/NZ.

I will take Australian beef over American any day, though I would probably buy the Japanese beef if I could afford it... :biggrin:

I never ate lamb growing up and the first time I tasted it was in Japan, it was Australian lamb and I loved it. Last summer I was at a BBQ at my aunt's house (in the US) and she had shishkabobs and I thought it was pork as it had that mild nondescript meat flavor. Later she said they were lamb and I was shocked as I had never eaten lamb that was so lacking in flavor....

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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