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Lamb- from restaurant supply store- so much better!

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The last few times that I cooked a leg of lamb I was very disappointed- very fatty and the meat tough, regardless of whether I bought it at whole foods, the local high end butcher etc. Last night we had lamb at a friend's house that was out of this world delicious, tender, moist flavorful and reasonably lean. She bought it at a restaurant supply store. I wouldlove to hear if any of you who have access to restaurant supply stores know why the product might be so much better. What is your experience with lamb and any recommended sources?
PS Her lamb was not marinated or prepared any special way. Salt and pepper, garlic in slits in the lamb. Cooked at 450 for 20 minutes and 350 for an additional hour and a half- 8 lbs boneless.

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  1. I suspect the answer to your question is that the supply store might be using a better source.

    You should be asking your usual supplier where their meat comes from. As always, there's nothing to beat good provenance. My part of the world grows good lamb which is just as well as it's my fave. meat - I tend to buy over the internet from an organic farm about 75 miles away or, occasionally, from a couple of non-organic farmers who trade at our local farmers market.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Harters

      IIRC the USDA does indeed grade lamb somewhat like beef, with prime. choice, etc. It would be interesting to learn what grade this lamb was. Maybe they really do have a better source.

      And maybe it was just dumb luck.

      1. re: johnb

        I'm thinking most grocery lamb is from New Zealand and restaurants like to use American. That could make a big difference.

    2. To me, 'restaurant supply store' means the place I go to buy sheet pans, whisks, saucepots, etc. A 'wholesale butcher' or 'wholesale meat purveyor' is where I would order my meat from in a restaurant setting. Just semantics I suppose.

      9 Replies
      1. re: babette feasts

        I don't know -- we frequent Restaurant Depot, and they have everything from sheet pans and other kitchen supplies to meat, vegetables, etc. Obviously, everything is in large quantities, whicn limits what we buy there (a 50 gallon drum of MSG anyone?). However, re the OP, I have never noticed that the meat is better than what we get elsewhere, though it is significantly less expensive.

        1. re: roxlet

          Interesting. All the equipment stores I've been to on the west coast have had only equipment, not food, so I got a funny mental picture of somebody selling lamb out of a van parked out back or something. I guess we have Cash & Carry, which might have some of both - otherwise maybe a regional thing?

          1. re: babette feasts

            I'm not sure, but Restaurant Depot is an east coast place, I think. One of the Top Chef challenges this season (Restaurant Wars, I believe) had the contestants shopping at Restaurant Depot.

            1. re: roxlet

              Restaurant Depot originated in California, but it's called Jetro there. As a matter of fact, their store in Queens is called Jetro too, maybe because it's been there longer than all these new branches that have been popping up.

          2. re: roxlet

            Where's Restaurant Depot? I've heard of that. I'm in Guilford outside of New Haven.

            1. re: mrsbuffer

              http://www.restaurantdepot.com/Misc/l...

              Looks like the closest to you in CT are Orange or Hartford.

              I've been to the Needham, MA store with a friend who was able to use a membership from a restaurant owner friend (one of those friend of a friend situations). It's wholesale only for business-licensed organizations only; not open to the general public. Lots of stuff there, including food.

              1. re: LindaWhit

                My friend bought her lamb at a store in Newton but maybe it is Needham. Definitely a restaurant supply store. Also a firend of a firend thing.

                1. re: LindaWhit

                  Actually, I think I do know where this is. I think I was talking to my chef about it last week. She called it a crack store...lol

                  mrbuffer and i manage a retirement community, hence the executive chef.

              2. re: roxlet

                Restaurant Depot does have reasonably small quantities of some odd things. You can buy one pound of butter for example (and they carry Plugra) or a single pint of chicken base or loaf of bread, or a single bottle of U-bet syrup. Great place to buy those big bottles of herbs and spices BTW. And of course most of the equipment can be bought item by item. But for food, it's true-- most of the time you have to buy a good-sized amount. Maybe one can of tomatoes, but it's a #10 can.

            2. I buy my lamb from a local halal butcher. It is a bit different because they just break down the carcasses into legs and halves, so you can get any hunk you want from what is in the case. So if you want chops, you get the ribs as well etc. The best deal are the legs. For 4 or 5 for dinner you can get the butt half of the leg. Everything is the same price. $4/lb.

              It has been excellent lamb and to qualify as halal, it must be locally slaughtered which is also a good thing. If you have a substantial Muslim population living near you, there is certain to be a halal meat market.