Less lamby tasting lamb for the unitiated guest
Had a dinner w/ a friend last month. We both had braised lamb shanks. She mentioned she loved them but it was the only cut of lamb that she has ever tried and wasn't sure she'd like other cuts/preps. I am long overdue in having her over for dinner so I promised I'd make her shanks. If she likes braised shanks do you think she'd like barbecued leg of lamb? Since I love both a lot I can't judge which is more lamby tasting. I need some other opinions.
re: free sample addict aka Tracy L
Some years ago, I served braised lamb shanks to a pair of new acquaintances at a dinner party. They were highly complimentary about the meal and, at one point, told me how tender and delicious the beef was ..... they also mentioned that lamb was the only meat they didn't like to eat. Hmmmm, do I tell them? or not?
When they finally asked what the dish was called I told them and watched their faces. He was very bothered, she was quite accepting. Today, he won't touch anything remotely "lamb-y" and she's eating it all. Different strokes .....
Avoid Austailian lamb as it is grass fed and very gamey. Spend the extra bucks for American raised. I bought some Austrailian a few week ago because it was under $2/lb but I am definitely going to marinade it in lots of lemon juice and garlic and grill it, to mask the gaminess. Nothing wrong with it, just stronger tasting, like venison.
The BBQ'd leg of lamb would taste more lamby by far. I think braised shanks are somewhat lamby/gamey, but the gameyness is somewhat masked by the braising liquids you choose to use. BBQ roasting stands alone. You get the *full* flavor of the meat, and there's really not a whole lot you can do to disguise it much. Of course there's BBQ sauce, lemon, curry, dry rubs, herbs, etc ... but lamb is going to taste like lamb. Whatever you do, do not BBQ the shanks. The meat is way too fibrous.
Go with the braised shanks, especially since you know she likes that already, or have her try some rib chops. Those are excellent BBQ'd, and less lamby IMO.
recently I watched Jacques Pepin on PBS - a new wrap on his 1970s show. He does a basic roasted leg of lamb (deboned and tied). We tried it - loved it. However, his hint was to really trim off the "heavy" fat to remove the gamey taste of the lamb. IT worked (not that we doubted..)
The answer that you seek is less found in the cut of meat than in the age of the animal that gave it to you. Lamb = lovely and lamby, mutton = too lamby for me.
That said, cooking method matters, too.
With any cut that you are going to cook via a dry heat method, the more rare you serve the meat, the less likely it is to taste strong. So if she eats her meat well done, I'd go with a slow cook method that employs a lot of other flavors like a braise or a tagine dish.
What a lovely friend you are to reciprocate with another meal.