From my experiences most individuals love lamb or hate lamb, there are very few that are on the fence. Most individuals find the flavor to strong or gamey. There are a couple of factors that lead to strong flavored meat, one is age and the other is what the animal has been fed. Grain fed creates a much fattier lamb and this will cause a much stronger flavor, grass fed creates a much leaner lamb and not as strong. The most popular time of year for lamb is spring (with the bulk of availability between May and June) when you can get a young animal, that is grass fed and delicious. But don’t be fooled the demand is so high that you are probably buying an older animal that was grain fed. My advice to everyone is to have a great butcher that you can trust, there is no better friend than a trusted butcher.
I wanted to use summer squash with my lamb dish, (pretty classic accompniament for lamb think of ratatouille) and I decided not to cook the squash but to marinate and serve at room temperature, not only did I use the vegetable but I decided to use the blossom, yes delicious especially stuffed with ricotta dipped in tempura batter and fried amazing flavor and texture.
So for all the Lamb haters I challenge you to find a trusted butcher and ask them a few questions before purchasing your lamb. How old was the animal, and was it grass or grain fed. If you find a nice young grass fed lamb go for it and I bet you will change your mind on the flavor of lamb.
The best lamb dish I ever had was in Provence at Edouard Loubet’s 2 michelin star restaurant. Simple Lamb Rack and Lamb Jus with a hint of thyme.
Amy’s Wine Picks
Top pick: Australian Shiraz. For me, Syrah and lamb is a classic pairing that will never get old. Despite what Yellow Tail did for Australia’s image for quality wine internationally, they make some great juice. The Barossa Valley is home to some of the oldest pre-phylloxera Syrah vines in the world. (The root louse that attacked vineyards in the late 19th century). Why it works? The aromas of black pepper adds a new element to the dish and the tannins break down the protein. Some of my favorite producers are Henry’s Drive, d’Arenberg, Elderton and Mollydooker.
Playing it safe: Argentinian Malbec. Malbec took Merlot’s place in the market after Sideways ruined its reputation. Think about it – purple hue, lush, velvety palate, and aromas of boysenberry and dark chocolate. Many wine producers from around the world are investing in the Mendoza region – Paul Hobbs and Mouton Rothschild to name a few. It is a crowd pleaser and usually a steal for the price. Some of my favorite producers are Añoro, Terrazas de los Andes and Luca.
Off the beaten track: Rosé Champagne. Trust me on this one. Instead of explaining myself, I will use my favorite wine quote to demonstrate.
“I drink it when I’m happy and when I’m sad.
Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone.
When I have company I consider it obligatory.
I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and I drink it when I am.
Otherwise I never touch it, unless I’m thirsty.”
Some of my favorite producers that won’t break the bank are Leclerc Briant, Egly-Ouriet, Duval Leroy and Jacquesson. But the way to my heart is through La Grande Dame, by Veuve Clicquot.