One popular nursery rhyme that I love till date is ‘Mary had a little lamb’. The relationship between Mary and her sweet little lamb is so enviable that I’m sure the lamb died a natural death. Lol!
So growing up, I learnt that lambs are edible meats, I mean all along, I believed the sweet little lamb was a pet like dog. So I tried getting a taste of lamb and I could say it is really a sweet little lamb; tasty and nutritious.
A lamb is a sheep less than the age of twelve months old and the meat from it is also called lamb meat. A little lamb between the age of six to ten weeks are called baby lambs and spring lamb is for lambs before the age of seven months.
Lamb meat is not common like other animal meats such as beef, pork , and mutton, especially in this part of the world. The mutton is the name given to the meat from sheep older than one year. There is so much about lamb meat that has not been explored.
Let me wet your taste buds and pique your curiosity to try out the sweet little lambs and get yourself a healthy protein that is tasty and yummy. The sweet little lambs have their own unique taste and flavour that is between beef and ‘bush meat’. Now, you should be getting ready for a taste.
Divine Taste Of The Sweet Little Lamb
Lambs can be slaughtered at different ages but not more than one year; after a year, they are called mutton and no longer lamb meat. Sweet little lamb have a high fat content, strong flavour and taste stronger (richness) than other animal meat within the age range.
Variations in lamb meat flavour and unique taste can be traced to their feed, age and location. Lambs that are fed strictly grasses would taste different from the one that has grains included in their diet.
One thing that is common to lamb meat is their high fat content, tenderness and strong diet sourced flavour.
Pasture fed lambs have a branch-chained fatty acid and a very strong flavour, example is the New Zealand lamb breed.
The American lamb breeds are fed corn weeks prior to slaughtering making the meat less flavoured.
Major Breeds Of Sweet Little Lambs And Their Flavour
Almost all countries of the world raise lambs but lambs are favourites and synonymous with these three countries: Australia, New Zealand and the United States with each zone having a different flavour and texture. Varieties of the sweet little lambs includes:
American Lamb Breed
The American lambs are large sized lambs, crossbred between Suffolk and Columbia breeds. They mostly feed on pastures and some corn to add to their fat a few weeks before being slaughtered. This gives their meat a healthy marbling texture.
Australian Lamb Breed
The most famous business of lambs in Australia is their highly priced wool. The meat is just a by-product, not the main reason for raising the sweet little lambs, making me guess that Mary must have been from Australia.
The lamb meat of this breed has a reduced fat ratio because they are not fed with corn; they are also mildly tender with rich flavour having a more intense marbling.
New Zealand Lamb Breed
These lamb breeds are mostly pasture-fed and slaughtered at six months of age. Their diet includes the ryegrass which gives the meat a strong mutton flavour. Whichever way they are prepared, the meat is tender and succulent with a low fat content.
Age Of Sweet Little Lambs
Lamb meat can be prepared in various ways with the age of lambs determining the taste of the dishes. The age may be insignificant when it is for personal consumption but for fine dinings, it is significant as the flavour differs according to the age of the lamb.
According to their name, they are still tender and breastfeeding. They are slaughtered between three weeks of age and twenty-eight days. Their diet consists only of milk giving a most distinct flavour and taste.
They are slaughtered at four months of age but not more than the one year having been fed varieties of meal. They have an intense flavour and appear darker than the suckling meat which is pink.
Sweet Little Lamb Cuts And Preparation
After being slaughtered, sweet little lambs are cut or divided according to body parts such as ribs, shoulders and hips. Each part has a slightly unique flavour even though it’s from the same meat and is preferred for particular dishes. Major sweet little lamb cuts in the market include:
- Lamb Chops: this is obtained from the rib area and is quite the most popular. This cut is healthier and gives a tender taste.
- Lamb Loins: it is obtained from the waist just right below the ribs. It is tender, lean and very delicious.
- Lamb Shank: this is the bottom part of the right leg and is extra soft.
Preparing Sweet Little Lamb
Lamb meat does not always taste the same every time even if the cuts are the same. The method of cooking can influence the taste, flavour and tenderness of the meat. Preparing lamb meats with herbs makes them more nourishing and improves taste likewise roasting them gives a good feel.
Herbs and condiments used in preparing lamb meat include ginger, garlic, basil, oregano, chilli, onions etc. Lamb meat can be prepared by grilling, oven baked, or deep fried depending on choice. International lamb dishes include India lamb curry, Moroccan grilled lamb chops, crock pot lamb shanks, Turkish roasted lamb among others.
Sweet little lambs are not just pets or Mary’s companion but a great and healthy alternative to the common meats. The taste of lamb meat varies according to where they are raised, what they are fed and the age at slaughter.
The Suffolk is probably the only breed that tastes good regardless of age, location and feed. They also grow faster and the meat is rich in texture and flavour. Sweet little lambs should be cooked properly with herbs to season and enhance the flavours of the meat.