The new meal on Flavorly’s menu this week is Pistachio Roasted Rack of Lamb and I for one couldn’t be happier. For some reason lamb seems harder to find in grocery stores than other meat and is infrequently on the restaurant menu – at least where I live here in Texas. I miss it. Sundays roasts were always something I would look forward to growing up; a kind of a British institution. I have often wondered why lamb is so elusive in the US and have read numerous theories. But it’s time to set the record straight. I can think of at least five reasons why we should be eating more lamb and here they are.
Full of flavor
Lamb is bursting with flavor! Whether you go for American lamb or classic New Zealand lamb the mellow flavor is distinctive. Why? Because lamb contains a particular kind of fatty acid that beef doesn’t giving it a gamy, more earthy taste than beef. American lamb tends to be quite dark red but because of marbling (due to grain feed), quite tender. Lamb specifically marked “grass-fed” or “grass-finished” will likely be leaner and have a stronger lamb flavor. New Zealand lamb on the other hand is grass-fed throughout its entire life and tends to have a more pronounced flavor.
Americans eat less than one pound of lamb per person per year. Compare that with lamb-loving New Zealanders and Australians (who enjoy 57 pounds and 30 pounds per person per year, respectively) and it’s easy to see how we’re missing out on the many health benefits of lamb. Grass-fed lamb is an efficient way of getting the concentrated goodness of grass into our bodies. Besides that, lamb is rich in iron, zinc, selenium, vitamin B-12 and niacin, but it’s particularly rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA, one of those important omega-3 fatty acids you hear about). A 3-ounce serving of lamb, according to the American Lamb Board, has almost five times as much ALA as the same size piece of beef.
Lamb is a cross-cultural meat, meeting the approval of major religions—Jewish, Islamic, and Christian–and eaten in quantity on most continents except North America. Globally it’s the second most popular animal protein after goat. The Middle East imports more Australian lamb by volume (and they’ve got lots of lamb to export) than anywhere else. China is a growing market for the Aussies, too, as well as Japan.
While the iconic rack of lamb makes a beautiful and delicious centerpiece there are plenty of quick and delicious ways to put lamb on the table any night of the week:
Ground Lamb: Add a few simple spices to ground lamb for quick and delicious lamb burgers. Or make Mediterranean meatballs infused with oregano, rosemary and thyme served over a bed of mixed greens or zucchini “noodles”. Or maybe try shepherd’s pie or Greek moussaka.
Lamb Shoulder: Do you love the simplicity of set-it-and-forget it meals? Add this delicious cut of lamb to your slow cooker for a fork-tender, no-fuss dinner brimming with health benefits.
Leg of Lamb Steaks: Get the taste of leg of lamb in a fraction of the time by choosing leg of lamb steaks. Marinate in a high quality olive oil, Mediterranean herbs and garlic overnight, then grill or broil for a dinner in 15 minutes flat.
Lamb Kebobs: Bring the taste of Greece into your kitchen with Greek lamb kebobs (“souvlaki”). Tender lamb cube marinaded in white wine, garlic, lemon juice, rosemary and thyme. Thread them on a skewer and pop on the grill. Delicious.
When it comes to a show-stopping centerpiece an up-ended rack of lamb or two with their striking rib bones interlocked in battle is hard to beat. Kemp Minofie of Epicurious describes it perfectly: “How about a crown roast of lamb, two racks tied together to form a circle? Fit for a king! Caterers know that lamb lollipops – rib chops in which the bones have been scraped clean (to form a natural handle) and the meat trimmed down to a two-bite nugget are an irresistible nibble at holiday cocktail parties. A butterflied leg of lamb on the grill is a crowd-pleaser at any time of year. And don’t forget about lamb shanks; they are fall-off-the-bone succulent when braised, whether in the oven or in a pressure cooker.” It’s hard to find better words to describe the magnificent visual and gastronomic appeal of lamb.
Have we whetted your appetite for lamb? I hope so. Why not give it a try and head over to Flavorly for some shepherd’s pie, lamb vindaloo curry or Pistachio Roasted Rack of Lamb...