Help me find a great way to cook this gamey meat!
May 3, 2011 12:40 PM   Subscribe

I bought a lamb that turned out very gamey, what are your favorite recipes for bringing out the best in such meat?

At Fatty Cue recently I had lamb that was so well-spiced, but not over-spiced, that it enhanced the good flavors and hid the gamier elements. I'm looking for tried and true recipes that do exactly this. Usually I just do a rub and braise, but most of my normal recipes aren't flavorful enough.



Thanks!!!
posted by melissam to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Curry. I recommend lamb korma.
posted by Go Banana at 12:41 PM on May 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Go Banana, do you have a korma recipe you rec? I'm looking mainly for specific recipes since there is so much out there.
posted by melissam at 12:50 PM on May 3, 2011


How to Buy the Right Leg of Lamb

Published March 1, 2006. From Cook's Illustrated.

How do I buy the right leg of lamb?

When we set out to develop our Garlic-Roasted Leg of Lamb recipe, we figured shopping would be the least of our worries. A leg of lamb is a leg of lamb, right? Not so fast.
For starters, an entire leg of lamb consists of three main parts: Up near the hip is the butt end (which includes the sirloin, or hip meat); the bottom part is the shank end, with the shank (or ankle) at the very bottom. For our recipe, we wanted a boneless cut, and we also asked for the shank end, which was the easiest to work with and yielded almost three times as much meat.

But after receiving several blank stares—as well as an odd collection of diverse cuts of meat—from butchers, we realized that our nomenclature was getting lost in translation at the meat counter. Sometimes we wound up with just the shank itself and sometimes a strange, semiboneless hybrid of the shank end and butt end, replete with extra joints and muscles for us to navigate.

To avoid confusion and to eliminate the risk of running into regional differences in labeling, we recommend forgoing the shorthand terminology and just spelling it out for your butcher. After extensive research, we found that you can't go wrong asking for "a whole boneless leg of lamb, but without the sirloin attached." This approach is wordy, but worth it.
An American leg of lamb is almost always larger and less gamy than its Australian or New Zealand counterparts.

Even butchers get confused by lamb terminology. The meatier shank end is better. Ask for a whole boneless leg of lamb, but without the sirloin attached.

Also, excessive fat will give a gamey taste as well.
posted by JABof72 at 1:10 PM on May 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


To clarify I have a whole lamb in my freezer, already cut into parts.
posted by melissam at 1:12 PM on May 3, 2011


Sorry about that.

Here's very good Lamb Korma recipe.
If you have an Middle Eastern market near you, they will not only have the spices you need, but ghee as well. If they have garlic naan, get some of that too!
posted by JABof72 at 1:30 PM on May 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Game meat (deer, rabbit, squirrel) was always marinated in milk prior to cooking when I was growing up. I was told it was to take the game out of the meat.
posted by wg at 2:05 PM on May 3, 2011


Dogg you have heard me wax rhapsodic about confit before. I just used my lamb legs to make a very nice confit that became part of the filling for trigona (little Greek pastries, like bite-sized versions of a pan of pita).

Once you've got the confit in your fridge, you can pretty much scoop out a chunk any time, fry it up until the lamb is a deep brown, and serve it with whatever you like. It lasts for a heck of a long time, sitting in the fridge, enrobed in solid fat. I like to throw browned confit meat onto green salads, myself.

My lamb confit recipe is below, and it's sort of a long-ish series of ingredients, but really, it only needs to be as complicated as you want it to be, and the specific spices are not a big deal; you can play around with what you have available. Salt, cinnamon, garlic, and pepper tend to dominate the flavors, and the rest of the herbs help give it a nice springy taste.

Lamb Confit:

Cut 5 pounds of lamb into cube-like shapes about 1-1.5 inches wide and tall.

Throw this into your big ol' spice bowl:


1.5 Tablespoons salt
1 Tablespoon Herbes de Provence
1 Tablespoon ground black pepper
.5 teaspoon ground coriander
.5 teaspoon paprika
1 Tablespoon oregano
1 Tablespoon brown mustard
.5 teaspoon ground cloves
.5 teaspoon cinnamon
.5 teaspoon ground allspice

Now chop, then add to the bowl:

1/2 a head of garlic
4 sprigs rosemary
4 sprigs fresh parsley
1.5 teaspoon chopped fresh mint
1.5 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1.5 teaspoon chopped fresh sage

Mix together all of the above spices, and you got yourself a big bowl full of sloppy spiciness. Throw in the lamb, and rub it down all over with the spice. Let it sit for a few hours in the fridge, absorbing the flavors (anywhere from zero time to overnight). He who absorbs the spice absorbs the flavors.

Now put the spice-covered lamb into a pot (I use a slow cooker), and cover it with molten fat (I use whatever rendered-and-clarified animal fat I have saved in the freezer, though I've heard olive oil works, too).

Throw about eight bay leaves into the molten fat. Turn up the heat until you get a bare simmer, and simmer it all for a few hours (I usually just let it go overnight or during the day while I'm at work).

Remove the bay leaves and discard. Fish out the chunks of lamb with a big spoon, and put them into a heat-tolerant container. Now pour the still-simmering fat over the lamb chunks until they're covered completely. Put the confit in the fridge, where the fat will solidify, sealing the lamb away from the air and keeping it safe and delicious. Let the flavors mingle for a week. (or less time, if you're as impatient as I often am)

That's it! You've got confit! Do with it what thou wilt.
posted by Greg Nog at 2:36 PM on May 3, 2011


What is a gamey taste? I've always wondered. I've grown up eating venison and duck and other "hunted meats" so....are my family great cooks or am I used to the gamey taste?
posted by nile_red at 4:19 PM on May 3, 2011


I've found recipes with spices with lots of volatile compounds will reduce the gamey taste of lamb. Thankfully, lots of these things are commonly included in lam recipes like mint, mustard, cinnamon, pepper.

Here's a recipe I got from the internet. It's meant to be veg, but I add lamb instead of chickpeas.

Tunisian Couscous
3-4 servings
Ingredients
2 cups uncooked couscous
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, cubed
1 large green pepper, cubed
1 large zucchini, cubed
2 potatoes
2 carrots
14 ounces chickpeas
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon chili paste or harissa
1/2 tablespoon paprika
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt and pepper

Method
1) Saute onion and olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat.
2) Add tomato paste, chickpeas, and 1 cup of water, and allow to boil for 15 minutes.
3) Cut vegetables, place them into pot, add 4 1/4 cup of water, and bring to a boil. Allow
to cook for 30-45 minutes, or until veggies are cooked.
4) To prepare couscous, place it into a collander or sifter, replacing about 1 cup water
with tomato sauce. (NOTE: I used couscous that only needed to sit in hot water for 5
minutes to cook. When doing so, I used 1 cup water and 1 cup of the sauce).
5) Place couscous in a large bowl, pour some of the sauce over it, and arrange vegetables
on top.
posted by fiercekitten at 5:34 PM on May 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


You can cook it however you'd like, but you really have to trim the fat and silverskin off it first, or it's going to taste, well, lamb-y.

My favorite recipe for lamb involves pounding a boneless leg of lamb to even thickness, spreading it with a mix of chopped rosemary, thyme, and olive oil, rolling it up and tying it with twine, covering the outside with more of the herb mixture combined with some breadcrumbs, and roasting for about an hour. But every time I make it, I spent at least an hour ahead of time trimming it well.
posted by devinemissk at 5:57 PM on May 3, 2011


2nd devinemissk. The flavours is mainly in the fat and will be much less prevalent if you use a sharp pairing knife and remove as much as possible.

A simple a but great cheat when you have too much meat is to grind it. You would have to invest in a meat grinder, but it will pay off in the long-run since you can be more flexible with pieces of meet and tougher cuts.

Use the ground lamb to make "greek meatballs" by adding an egg, bread crumbs, garlic, mint, and crumbled feta cheese.

Good luck!
posted by brorfred at 7:40 PM on May 3, 2011


Like most Aussies, I eat lamb regularly. It always amuses me that Americans and Japanese say that it tastes gamey, to me it tastes quite different from venison, rabbit or kangaroo (which are the most common game meats eaten here). Your method of cooking will depend on the cut - as with beef, some cuts are best for slow cooking, others are best for grilling or other quick methods.

In general, you're best off looking for recipes that come from places where lamb is commonly eaten - I like Greek, Moroccan and English styles for lamb, but your mileage may vary.

My favourite way to use lamb mince is in a Lamb, Herb, and Feta pasta. The garlic, herbs and anchovies are what make this a really tasty dish and not just mince in a bowl.

The same (Aussie) website has a lamb recipes collection, sorted in order of popularity. The ratings system they use means that most recipes end up with either 5 stars or none, so your best bet is to read the comments to see what people really thought.

For slow cooking, I like to use Jamie Oliver's spiced lamb shanks recipe from The Naked Chef. Someone's written it out in the forums on his site.

A butterflied leg of lamb can be grilled on a barbeque - Nigella Lawson has a good recipe (general instructions on that page, link to recipe in the right-hand sidebar).
posted by harriet vane at 4:44 AM on May 4, 2011


I have made this Moroccan lamb stew several times and it is always popular; lots of flavor but not overwhelming.
posted by TedW at 5:10 AM on May 4, 2011


harriet vans, I wonder if your lamb taste better? I buy about 3 lambs a year and all of them taste different depending on where they grazing, their pedigree and how they were slaughtered. Some lamb (a Tunis breed from near Ithaca) I buy tastes fantastic just with salt and pepper and even the fat is very good. Same with deer and goat.
posted by melissam at 6:29 AM on May 4, 2011


Hmm, that's a good point. I looked up lamb in my Stephanie Alexander book (The Cook's Companion) and she suggests the age of the sheep and the amount of time the meat is hung after slaughter can affect the taste. As mentioned above, she suggests cutting off the fat if it's not to your liking - either leaving just enough to keep it moist while cooking, or removing all of it and using a marinade or a moist cooking method instead.

If you've got a lamb that's not as good as your Ithaca ones, I'm guessing that warm spices like cayenne pepper, cumin, cinnamon, paprika, saffron, etc will work better than bright green herbs, lemon, tomato, etc. I've had camel twice (which I felt was similar to mutton) and it was tastier in a spicy, fruity tagine dish than in a tomato-broth style soup, even though the rest of the soup was delicious.

Other possibilities: serve it with alternative starch/carb/ish type things like lentils, couscous, polenta, etc instead of potatoes, pasta, etc - they absorb spices/flavourings better, so should give more variety to the taste of the meal as a whole, and prevent the gaminess from dominating. And I wonder if recipes for other game could work well with your lamb substituted in?
posted by harriet vane at 7:33 AM on May 4, 2011


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