It’s springtime and time for spring lamb.
Well, it is in many cultures. While lamb use is increasing in the US, Americans are not huge consumers of lamb compared to the rest of the world. In fact, the average American only eats 0.88 pounds of lamb per year compared to the 26/25 pounds per person in Australia and New Zealand.
Because of low lamb consumption in the US, lamb costs more compared to other parts of the world with regular consumption. When traveling in Europe and Morocco, David and I regularly consumed lamb because it was affordable. I cooked my first whole leg of lamb in Morocco, only paying $9 US for it, whereas it would have cost me around $100 here in the US for the same quality of meat. So while it’s not a regular part of the American culture to eat lamb, cost compared to other meats is also keeping consumption down.
When is Lamb Season?
Spring is lamb season for two reasons. The first being spring lamb meat becomes sweeter and more tender after grazing on fresh spring grass for several months. During this time, the lambs also develop more weight compared to the summer months when they lean down due to less succulent grass. So farmers slaughter when the meat is at it’s tastiest and they gain the most benefit in weight.
The second reason spring is lamb season is for religious reasons. Christians and Jews all eat lamb as part of their religious beliefs and ideology surrounding Easter, Passover. Muslims also consume lamb for religious reasons during Eid-al-Adha, which happens in September, which can also be spring depending on which hemisphere you’re in.
Today, it’s easy to get spring lamb year around because of global shipping. Australia and New Zealand are the world’s largest exporters of lamb, so their spring lamb ends up on tables in the Northern hemisphere just in time for Easter and Passover.
What Age is Lamb Harvested?
Taste and tenderness of lamb meat fluctuate widely. Younger meat is more tender and has a less strong or gamey taste than older meat. Most lamb meat is harvested from the age range of 3 to 18 months, although in some countries, the age can range up to 24 months due to government food regulations. After that, lamb becomes sheep.
Sheep meat is called mutton. Mutton is almost impossible to find in the US unless you happen to know a farmer. I have yet to find it on a store shelf. Mutton tastes more like goat meat which is once again a meat the majority of American don’t consume. Mutton and goat meat are so delicious but that is another story for another time. Today is all about lamb.
Lamb meat tastes great grilled, braised, seared, roasted, slow cooked or seared. Tender chops and lamb burgers are normally cooked fast to medium at the most. Medium rare to rare is recommended. Any longer and the chops become tough.
Lamb shanks and legs are roasted, slow cooked or braised until tender and falling off the bone in dishes such as flavor-loaded curries. And of course, the insides and head are cooked various ways including soups, stews and a wide range of other dishes.
Spring lamb is often paired with bitter herbs and greens or sweet spring vegetables like tender asparagus, green peas, and young mint, rosemary and tarragon. Pistachios are an excellent nut for pairing with lamb. Slower cooked lamb pairs well with polenta, mashed or chopped root veggies or over rice.
Like with most foods, the only limit is your imagination and taste buds as to what you can do with lamb. We’re still exploring all the ways we enjoy eating lamb including the 12 recipes we’ve included here for you today. Have fun enjoying lamb season.
1. Apricot Glazed Lamb Meatballs with Pistachios
Keep your tummy and guests happy with delicious Apricot Glazed Lamb Meatballs with Pistachios recipe from My Modern Cookery.
2. Garlic and Herb Crusted Lamb Chops
The simplicity of Natasha’s Kitchen’s Garlic Herb Crusted Lamb Chops recipe is out of this world perfect for young spring lamb.
3. SLOW COOKER STICKY ASIAN LAMB RECIPE
4. Turkish Gozleme with Lamb
Jo Cooks pairs beautiful ground lamb with spinach, feta and homemade Turkish flatbread in her recipe Turkish Gozleme with Lamb.
5. Honey Balsamic Lamb Chops for Two
Sweet, sticky honey and the sharp bite of balsamic vinegar are beautiful with the sweet recipe for Honey Balsamic Lamb Chops from Bakeaholic Mama.
6. Sticky, Spicy Lamb Ribs
Forget being polite, because your going to be licking your fingers when you try the sticky goodness of Not Quite Nigella’s recipe for Sticky Lamb ribs.
7. Port Braised Lamb Shan
Recipe Tin Eats’ Port Braised Lamb Shanks are so delicious served over mashed potatoes or polenta with bright greens.
8. Cast Iron Lamb Loin Chops
Pull out your cast iron skillet and a little cognac for Kitchen Swagger’s perfectly seared Cast Iron Lamb Loin Chops with Cognac Butter Sauce.
9. Grilled Lamb Kofta Kebabs
Enjoy Healthy Seasonal Recipes recipe for Grilled Lamb Kofta Kebabs paired with fresh pita, tomato and cucumber salad and tzatziki sauce for the perfect Middle Eastern Meal.
10. Guinness Lamb and Parsnip Cottage Pie
Tender sweet lamb is paired with parsnip mash and a bitter Guinness sauce in Simply Sophisticated Cooking’s Guinness Lamb and Parsnip Cottage Pie recipe.
11. BBQ Marinated Butterflied Leg of Lamb
It’s time for BBQ because you’ll be firing up the grill the minute you see the tasty goodness of Super Golden Bakes’ BBQ Marinated Butterflied Leg of Lamb recipe.
12. Keema Biryani with Ground Lamb and Peas
Bring the flavors of India home when you try Cooking Curries’ aromatic, spicy recipe for Keema Biryani with Ground Lamb and Peas.