If you have thought that lamb is supposed to have a gamey taste to it, now might be the time to try it again. The lamb that you get from the store can be from anywhere in the world. That being said, like most products, the closer to home it comes from, the better and fresher tasting it is.
is a different from those cuts that you typically see at a chain grocer. It is purely bread to be a meat lamb, and is not raised for the wool. This creates a flavor pallet that is not normally seen from lamb that is packaged and ship around the world. Picking up an American Lamb from a butcher shop can mean the difference in taste and delight. The farms that raise this meat are very different than those from around the world.
One such ranch is the Anderson Ranch in Brownsville, Oregon. Here 15,000 lambs are raised each year for their high-quality meat. The entire process is stress-free, therefore improving the consistency and pure taste of the meat. Being in the grass seed capital of the world, it helps to feed the lambs a diet that is unchanged, and full of nutrients, therefore creating a pure end result.
Once you get the lamb, the question becomes how to prepare it, and of course what wines to pair it with. Holly Smith, Executive Chef at Café Juanita in Kirkland, WA, has some suggestions on how to prepare and pair lamb dishes.
As an appetizer a dish of garlic lamb sausage from a local butcher shop, along with a mild cheese pairing, is delicious. This sets the taste buds up for a touch of the lamb initially, but nothing that is overpowering. Additionally, pairing this with a sparkling rose, such as Treveri NV Sparkling Rose, will bring out the fruity notes in the wine, but also, the subtle flavors of the sausage.
Moving on to a first course, lamb pairs extremely well with pasta, especially when braised. Holly Smith suggested (and prepared) a gnocci dish paired with braised lamb in a mild sauce. Putting these together, along with pomegranate seeds for a hint of sweetness, allows for all flavors to shine. The subtle goat cheese taste of the gnocci goes extremely well with the sauce and the tenderness of the lamb, which all melts in your mouth. A suggested wine pairing is a lighter red, such as Tranche Cellars 2010 Barbera.
A second creative and decadent way to present lamb is in a Cipollini. First baking the onion, taking out the center allows for a shell to put lamb into. Taking ground lamb and mixing it with pine nuts, carrots, olive oil, vinegar and little sherry, make a combination that will make you mouth water. Baking this combination again, while inside the onion, melds all the flavor profiles together, coming out with a delicious and beautifully presented dish. Additionally you can also add breadcrumbs to the top if you so chose, adding a crunchy topping. For this dish, a suggested wine pairing would be a more full-bodied wine, such as the Walla Walla Vinters 2012 Estate Syrah.
If you had written off lamb, now might be the time to come back and try it again. Holly Smith even suggests trying lamb kidneys. Sometimes the oddest cuts are the best. Daring enough to make lamb kidneys, Holly suggests that you sear them in some butter and olive oil, adding a little bit of thyme.
With a much more flavorful experience, American Lamb is a cut above foreign wool lamb. Visit your local butcher shop, or OregonLamb.com, and try a cut for yourself.
Let us know your favorite lamb recipe or your favorite way to prepare it. We’re always excited to let others know, and try new things ourselves!