Lamb is the flesh or meat obtained from young sheep. Usually, lamb is less than one year old when meat is taken out. Lamb is much more tender and juicy than mutton obtained from old sheep. There are various cuts of lamb available at butcher’s shop and it varies from cuisine to cuisine. Best-quality young lamb has fine-grained, pinky brown flesh with white fat. Lamb dishes can either be served as side dishes as well as main dishes. Rack of lamb, roasted lamb and barbequed lamb steaks are some of the most popular lamb recipes around the world.
History of Lamb
The word ‘lamb’ is derived from the German language. 10,000 years ago, the sheep was introduced as a means of food along with a good source of wool. Asians and Europeans along with Australians considered lamb as one of the staple food in their diets. Farmers during Middle Ages, use sheep for clothing, for meat, as well as for milk. In North America, the sheep was introduced for the first time in 1519, but the introduction of sheep in cattle herds in western regions became the main cause of bloodshed in 1800s. This social division and cruelty never allowed lamb to become the favorite of Americans.
Culinary Uses of Lamb
Lamb is an indispensable part of menu in western cuisine and it has varied uses in cooking. The cooking methods and uses of lamb vary with the lamb cut. Different cuts of lamb are used in cooking with different lamb recipes and methods. Lamb being a juicy and tender meat is very popular in making gravy as well as dry dishes. Casserole lamb recipes are quiet famous in global cuisine. Shredded lamb is a very nice filling for rolls and sandwiches. Soup and stew dishes also make good use of lamb juices. Minced lamb meat is fondly used in making patties and kebabs. Lamb recipes are an integral part of traditional Easter ad Passover meals.
Popular Lamb Recipes
Lamb is used in making innumerable recipes around the world. Some of the most popular lamb recipes are as follows:
• Lamb cutlets – This lamb dish contains minced lamb meat which is either deep-fried or shallow-fried.
• Lamb curry – Lamb pieces are simmered in onion gravy to make this delicious lamb curry.
• Roasted lamb – Either boneless lamb pieces or with bone pieces are marinated with yogurt and spices and roasted in oven.
• Shredded lamb rolls – Boiled lamb is shredded and filled in rolls to make a well-liked appetizer.
Cuisines Commonly Making Lamb Dishes
Lamb is a very popular form of meat in Mediterranean cuisine such as the Greek and North African cuisines. Lamb gyro and roasted leg of lamb are some of the popular lamb recipes in Greek cuisine. Lamb stew is also a well-liked dish in Mediterranean cuisine. Lamb liver, heart, lungs and testicles are served as a delicacy in Australian and British cuisines. The traditional Scottish dish ‘haggis’ contains lungs, heart and liver of lamb and it is served as a delicacy. South Asian and South East Asian countries also use lamb as a main meat in their non-vegetarian dishes. Surprisingly, lamb is not a very popular ingredient in American cuisine due to political reasons.
Preferable Methods of Making Lamb Dishes
Lamb is the meat of small sheep approximately 15-30 kg of weight hence it is very soft and takes very less time to cook. Here are few methods that are used to make lamb dishes:
• Roasting – This is one of the most popular dry cooking methods for lamb dishes. Roasted lamb can either be served as a main dish or it can be shredded and used as a filling or topping.
• Grilling – Grilling is also a dry cooking method but it allows lamb to retain its juices. It is very necessary to keep basting the lamb while grilling to keep the meat moist.
• Boiling – Lamb is a flavorful meat and boiling takes out its juices and creates a flavorful soup or stew dish.
• Stir-frying – Lamb pieces can be stir-fried with other ingredients to make nice lamb dishes.
• Simmering – Lamb pieces are simmered in sauce or gravy to make delectable lamb dishes.
Nutritive Value of Lamb
Although it is often assumed to be the most fattening of all meat, lamb has fat content comparable to beef and pork. Some of the health benefits of lamb are as follows:
• Lamb is high in protein.
• It is a rich source of most B vitamins.
• Zinc and iron is present in abundance in lamb and lamb dishes.
Consumption Criteria of Lamb
Like all red meats, fatty cuts of lamb should be eaten in moderation. Lamb meat contains saturated fats and calories hence lean meat should be preferred. In 1986, the Chernobyl disaster in Britain has contaminated the food chain with radioactive materials. The radioactive materials were found in sheep also, this is still a health concern in the country.
Buying and Storing of Lamb
Lamb meat should be picked from the shop with extra care and precaution. Lamb, like other meats, is a highly perishable item. If packed lamb meat is to be purchased then the packing and sell-by date should be checked. However, it is better to buy fresh cut lamb. While buying the meat should be pink in color and without any odor. While storing the lamb few points should be kept in mind, such as:
• Lamb should be stored in the coldest part of refrigerator.
• If meat is not to be used on the same day of purchase, then it should be kept in freezer.
• Cooked or leftover lamb dishes should be frozen or can be kept in refrigerator for not more than 2 days.
Types of Lamb
Lamb meat is usually classified into three types of meat:
• Forequarter – This is the meat obtained from the foreleg of the lamb and also from the loin of the lamb. It is considered as a versatile cut of lamb and mostly used to make roasted lamb recipes.
• Loin – This meat is obtained from above the round portion and just below the portion of rib cage. It is one of the tenderest meats of lamb.
• Hindquarter – This is the variety of lamb meat taken from the back portion of lamb.
• It is surveyed that men preferred to have lamb where as women do not est prefer to eat much of lamb.
• In US, 7000 lamb farm exists.