Lamb. For those not raised eating Lamb – I’m trying to find a way to say this – it tastes funny. Not “ha ha” funny. It tastes weird – off. The strange taste comes from a specific fatty acid lambs produce but cows do not. Branched-chain fatty acids are carried through the body via the bloodstream and stored in the fat of the lamb.
For those of us turned off by the gamey taste the branched-chain fatty acids proffer, there’s a way to serve lamb as a delectable dish. Get rid of the blood and fat. Below is the step by step process I follow when preparing lamb. The process begins a full day before I plan to cook.
- Unpackage and rinse the meat. This part may seem obvious, yet remains important. Rinse any blood from the meat.
- Trim any excess fat from the meat.
- 24 hours before cook time, place the rinsed meat in a pan or Zip-Lock bag full of milk. Sounds strange, but the milk will help to draw blood from the meat. Leave the meat soaking in the milk overnight.
- After about 12 hours soaking in milk, pull the lamb from the milk and give it a good rinse.
- Into a food processor pour a generous amount of olive oil. I’d give measurements, but the volume depends of the amount of meat you’re serving. Bottom line, there is no exact ratio… just enough oil to coat the meat. Next add a good amount of fresh herbs. Which herbs? The ones you like. I usually add fresh rosemary, mint, sage, and basil. Blend the oil and herbs until you have a green “marinade-goo.”
- Place the meat into another large pan or Zip-Lock bag and add the oil-herb marinade. Marinate for 8 – 10 hours.
- Finally the cook. Lamb needs fire. I suppose you could cook it in the oven, but grilling lamb over fire and high heat releases fat from the meat (resulting in fewer calories) and further aids in reducing the gamey taste. A gas grill is fine for this process, however a good bed of charcoal and a few chunks of hardwood (hickory, oak, etc) will give the Lamb a scrumptious smoky flavor.
At the end of the day it’s important to remember you’re not serving beef. Lamb is a red meat, but it’s not cow. If you have an adventurous palate, give it a shot. If you’ve had lamb in the past and were “not impressed,” you may just be surprised.