Lamb - a small sheep
- Should be light pink and eaten fresh.
- Suits both mild and hot spices.
- High quality – but also a long trip – from New Zealand.
- Boil meat that has been frozen
Lambs were the first animals to be domesticated in Mesopotamia about 9000
years ago. Our ancestors clearly had good taste.
The fine meat of lamb should be light pink in color. The redder it is,
the older the animal – sheep’s’ meat is burgundy color. The meat should be firm
and the fat should be creamy white, not yellow.
A small sheep
For lamb, age, season and pasture has a greater impact than breed. A lamb
is normally between 3 to 12 months old and the average slaughter weight is only
around 18 kilos.
Suckling lambs are slaughtered at an age of only two to three months old.
The meat is light in color and mild.
Autumn lambs are allowed to grow to five to seven months old and are
slaughtered during the autumn. They have grazed throughout the summer and have often
built more fat and taste than spring lambs.
Spring lambs are born during the winter. They are slaughtered at around
four to five months old and they have a mild lamb taste.
Winter lambs often graze outdoors and are fed indoors during the winter.
They are allowed to reach an age of one year and have a leaner, more mature
meat than younger lamb.
Some of the most common are Dorset, Suffolk, Texel and
fine wool sheep. Merino is also common in Australia and New Zealand.
Lamb meat should not hang or tenderize like beef. It should be eaten
fresh, preferably within a week after slaughtering. Be careful with the hygiene
and the chilling chain when you handle lamb. You can hamper the oxidation
process by rubbing the pieces of meat with olive oil and make them last a bit
Large pieces can stay fresh in the refrigerator for up to five days,
smaller pieces and mince of lamb should not stay in the refrigerator for more
than two days.
Medium-rare, the center is lightly cooked. Internal temperature 50°C to 54°C.
Medium, the entire piece of meat has a pink interior. Internal
temperature 54°C to 58°C:
Medium-well, only the center is pink. Internal temperature 58°C to 65°C.
Well-done, grey meat. Internal temperature above 65°C.
To season or not to season
Doctrines about lamb differ. The meat is light and very soft and many
chefs think that it should be seasoned with care. At the same time, the meat works
well with a wide range of strong seasonings and there are many traditional lamb
dishes in many countries, especially those around the Mediterranean, North
Africa, Middle East and Asia where spices are used generously.
Cuts vary from country and regions, with countries like New Zealand,
Canada, UK and Australia proving nine different variations compared to eight differentiations
in the US and Ireland.
Around the year, all year
In the old days, all lambs were slaughtered in the autumn when the
pastures were finished. These days it is possible to find fresh lamb all year
around. It is common that one crosses breeds to achieve a good balance between
lambing, meat production, temperament and (possibly) wool production.
Lamb meat in New Zealand is produced with a high and steady quality. The
problem is that lamb meat is a fresh commodity and the country is situated on
the other side of the globe from countries in Europe.
Discover yourself whether the goods have been frozen or not. If you buy
frozen lamb, thaw slowly. Meat that has been frozen does not give as good
result if you fry it, but works well to boil.