Lamb is making a comeback, which may come as a bit of a shock to those of us who have kept it in constant rotation for our family meals.
But if you are one of the many Americans who do not eat lamb on a regular basis, you may have noticed the meat becoming more popular at local restaurants, on cooking shows on television, and even on the menus of your friends' dinner parties.
Common complaints are that lamb is too gamey or has an overpowering flavor, which isn’t technically wrong, but that flavor may be a result of FDA labeling guidelines for lamb in the U.S.
You see, in the U.S. the law permits any lamb, no matter the age, to be labeled and sold as lamb. But if you were to travel to, say, Australia or New Zealand, two countries known for their lamb meat, you will find that any meat labeled lamb will be less than 12 months old when slaughtered. The combination of age and a pure grass-fed diet means that lamb from down-under has a softer flavor that can be cooked in a variety of ways, from grilling to searing to roasting.
Lamb older than a year, known as hogget, and adult lamb, known as mutton, tend to pack big flavor in each bite, so much so that some people are put off by any dish prepared with it.
So my suggestion is this: The next time you find yourself at the supermarket, look for a good Australian lamb and take it home and simply sear it in your cast-iron skillet. You may find that you really love lamb after all.
In this episode of Cooking with Fire, All Things Barbecue's Josh Cary and Chef Tom Jackson talk all things lamb while they prepare seared lamb lollipops with mint balsamic reduction. Enjoy!
- 1 whole Frenched rack of lamb
For the blackening seasoning:
- 3 tbsp paprika
- 2 tbsp kosher salt
- 1 1/2 tbsp cayenne
- 1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried oregano
For the mint balsamic reduction:
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 sprig mint leaves
- To make the mint balsamic reduction, combine the balsamic vinegar and sugar in a saucepan. Reduce by half, over medium heat. Turn off heat. Add the mint leaves and allow to bloom for 15 minutes. Strain the mint from the sauce.
- Stabilize your charcoal grill at 600ºF, with a cast iron griddle in place, set up for direct grilling.
- Slice the lamb in between the bones for individual lamb lollipops.
- Combine the ingredients for the blackening seasoning and mix well. Place the seasoning in a small shallow container. Season each lamb lollipop with the blackening seasoning, dipping each lollipop in the seasoning and pressing into the meat.
- Sear the lamb lollipops for about 90 seconds each side on the cast iron griddle. Remove from the grill and serve with the mint balsamic reduction.