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Feb 2, 2009 06:11 PM

What gives some red meats that horrific "smell/aftertaste"??

Does anyone know what I am talking about? I don't eat lamb for the reason that is has that awful smell/aftertaste that lingers in your mouth. Sometimes when I buy beef, however, it has the exact same smell (maybe a bit toned down, but it is still there!). Does anyone know where this smell comes from and if it is only present in certain cuts of beef?? Or how to avoid it?

Thanks for the help!

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  1. I wonder if you mean it tastes "gamey"? I've noticed this with some lamb and some goat, and assume it's related to the feed (grass"), and dark meat, but I'm not sure.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Shrinkrap

      yeah, gamey. I dont eat lamb so it doesnt bother me. The worst those is when I bring home a piece of beef and it has that every so slightly terrible lambish scent. yuck!

    2. I also don't eat lamb because of a strange, not quite identifiable taste that I find unpleasant, but I have never had that same reaction to beef, grain or grass fed. Hmm.

      1. "horrific" is your opinion... My first reaction is just that you don't like beef. There are very few people who actually eat beef and also say that it's "horrific."

        As Shrink mentioned, it's partly because of the feed, but also partly because of the animal. Lamb will always taste stronger than beef no matter what it eats because it's simply a different animal. Grass fed beef often has a stronger flavor compared to cattle that have been grain fed.

        As a small side note, understand that grass fed beef is natural and is the way beef actually SHOULD taste. Cows were not meant to eat grain and corn.

        In general... the stronger taste in some cuts of beef is going to be more prevalent in the cuts that have more fat, more connective tissue, and more muscle usage. Tenderloin will have less fat, less usage, and less of a strong beef flavor. Beef shank on the other hand will have a stronger flavor, more connective tissue, more fat, and will have been used more often when the animal was still on all fours walking around. These are very generalized definitions, but it's a place to start.

        Also think about the cooking method: Tenderloin is often simply grilled within a few short minutes with no other flavors added. Beef shank is just the opposite. It's often braised in flavorful liquids for long periods of time.

        1. This is funny because my complaint about lamb is that the market for the "mild" version sometimes makes the meat so close to beef that it is no longer much different. While I don't want something labeled lamb to taste like mutton, I like the flavor of lamb and don't want it taken out of the product entirely.

          3 Replies
          1. re: EdwardAdams

            I totally agree! I've used to order lamb whenever I saw it on the menu, but I've stopped because I always end up disappointed with the "may-as-well-be-beef" that I receive.

            1. re: Humbucker

              Then eat mutton instead (older than 1 year).

              1. re: applehome

                I would love to eat mutton more often, but I can't find the stuff! I see a lot of goat, but I don't think I've ever found mutton in a market near me.

          2. There may be a few things involved in this:
            1. Aged meats (including dry cured meats such as salami) may have a smell similar to mold, as aging includes having the exteriour aged with naturally boune tenderizers like mold (the "je ne sais crois" aspect, some may add); husband mentioned this yesterday regarding some proscuitto. If you smell something similar to certain cheeses, this may be the culprit.
            2. Steaming ground red meat, particularly burgers, may release a smell and taste similar to liver (put hamburger in hot pan, add lid, and you'll see what I mean). This doesn't happen to braised meats, I've recently learned, but can happen if done incorrectly
            3. Gameyness (as others have mentioned). Particularly true with lamb and goat, as well as some turkey and bison. Anything which drives our pets to act in a feral nature. Lamb has a lot of more pungent fat, and trimming this prior to roasting usually helps.

            10 Replies
            1. re: Caralien

              Good points.

              As for the trimming of the lamb fat you are particularly correct. Get rid of the fat, and you get rid of much of the gameyness. Also note that much of the flavor of lamb is attributed to the lanolin in the fat which is produced by the animals.

              1. re: HaagenDazs

                Lanolin does make a good moisturiser, and for a lot of herbs & spices, including truffles, fat is the best way to soak up the flavouring agents (forgive me if truffles ar neither an herb nor a spice, as I don't know where funghi falls).

                Love lamb, however. Need to find a turkish place soon.

                1. re: Caralien

                  You have it right - truffles are a fungi. They are used more like an herb/spice but in the simplest terms they are just fancy mushrooms.

                  1. re: HaagenDazs

                    but oh so yummy. Can't wait until October to try another batch from Oregon.

                2. re: HaagenDazs

                  And don't forget to remove the glands that are found in the leg - they are quite gamey - sometimes even too much for me, and I love the gamey taste of lamb.

                3. re: Caralien

                  Its not that I don't like meat or beef in general. For example, I have never had a bad experience with "steaks". Steaks seem to never have that aftertaste. Similar experience w ground beef. However, last week I made a roast beef (one of those bulky, round cuts that roast in the over for a few hrs - don't remember the exact cut) and when it was done, the smell!!! I seasoned it, put a sauce on it, inserted garlics into it, but it was that distinctive smell. I'm just trying to figure out which cuts to stay away from so I know ahead of time.

                  1. re: cups123

                    can you describe the odour? dirt, liver, mold, sour, sweet, green, fermented, sewage, rotting vegetables, fishy (apologies so close to dinner time)

                    1. re: Caralien

                      Theoretically, a properly dry-aged steak should have more of that smell, not less. I love the strong, cheeselike flavor of extra-aged prime beef, which is worth paying a lot extra for. And as others have pointed out, the problem with most of the lamb sold here is that it isn't strong enough: the best lamb is either slaughtered cruelly young or way too late - if you know a grower, you can sometimes get ``weathers,'' lamb that somehow escaped the roundup the first time around and is a year older than its brethren.

                    2. re: cups123

                      Round is well known for its flavor notes of liver. That's why some of us like it - too much of today's beef is actually deficient in flavor, as it were.

                      1. re: Karl S

                        Agreed, most describe a mineral taste which sounds right to me. I used to buy bottom round in the big cryo packs to break down and use for almost everything. It cracks me up when people say it tastes "off" like it isn't supposed to taste like that. I like deer and mutton also if you treat it right.