What is the best way to eat lamb? Many people have given up on eating sheep and mutton because of the odd flavor of the meat. I have three answers, and the third is the best. The off-flavor in sheep and goats comes from the fat. Removing fat from the meat can minimize the undesirable flavor considerably. Other tips include: don’t eat a mature buck goat–yuck! Don’t eat a doe or ewe in estrus (heat) or when pregnant–the hormones put awful flavor into the meat. Rams do not have the repulsive flavor male goats have, but still have a better taste when slaughtered before September. Grass-fed only lambs will have less fat to contend with. With those field rules in mind, here is what to do when the meat makes it to the kitchen:
First, use rosemary
She is not your best friend’s grandma. She is an herb you can grow yourself. My wife has a couple rosemary bushes growing now. This herb and a few others help mute the odd flavor of lamb and bring out its natural qualities. Simple research will help you find which other herbs work in concert with rosemary to create a classic flavor.
Second, curry the lamb.
From what I have observed, the yellow curry my wife makes is the result of taking all the spices in the cupboard and dumping them into the pan with the lamb. It is great on rice. Search the web and find some recipes. She learned from her sister and I do not know the recipe (nor am I allowed to cook in my wife’s kitchen because of past experiments that went wrong.) You will have to work out the details on your own.
Third, (drum roll here), smoke the lamb.
Oh yes! Now this flavor central. Lamb meat does not have to cook as long as brisket or turkey. It melts easily at low temps almost as if sheep were created for the smoker. We use fruit and nut wood mixed—we have persimmon, hackberry, pecan, and chokecherry trees growing wild. The chokecherry is probably the sweetest. Mix that with some pecan or hickory (only a little) and the meat is to die for. Honestly, after four years of eating our homegrown sheep, my wife has only begun to enjoy this meat since we started smoking it. Get a smoker or build one and become a master of bark (the basted-on meat coating), woodchips, and patience.
Turkey was meant for the smoker, too. Mm-mmm. But don’t get me started.
The most cost-effective way to eat so good is to raise your own lamb. Learn how to protect your sheep from coyotes in my article on the topic.