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lamb loin problem

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I needed lamb loin for a recipe (add mustard, garlic & cabernet marinade 2 hours in frig, 1 hour at room temp. Lamb then broiled to medium rare). I have made this dinner many times before, but the last two times the lamb came out very mediocre. On the day of the dinners, lamb in meat display counter (three different markets) looked way beyond "aged" to dark brown, or smelled bad. So these last 2 times, I asked the butcher to cut new lamb loin at 1.5 inch thickness (called for in recipe).
Any ideas or suggestions why the lamb was not flavorful; or where to buy in San Francisco area.

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  1. I can only suggest that the lamb had not been aged sufficiently. Or, perhaps, was very young lamb which had been slaughtered too soon and had not developed flavour.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Harters

      Thank you for responding! That makes alot of sense. Any suggestions (besides relying on luck!) for the future?

      1. re: cheese125

        Make friends with the butcher!

        Ask where it comes from, how old it was when slaughtered; how long was it hung before being butchered. All of these things will help you decide.

        The best tasting lamb, IMO, will be hill grown (and probably near to where you are - local is always best) and not too young. Probably hung for 10 days or so.

        The only caveat I would add is that reading Chowhound, many Americans seem to find lamb to be a strong. sort of gamey, tasting meat that is not to their taste. Of course that's exactly how many of us in the rest of the world want our lamb to be (particularly with mutton). But it may be that your local farmers grow for the home market and your usual meat is mild flavoured. But the meat you bought recently may have been imported so had more taste.

        1. re: Harters

          "Or, perhaps, was very young lamb which had been slaughtered too soon and had not developed flavour"

          The only lamb is a young sheep. Spring lamb is considered by many to be the best and that should be no more than three months old. A sheep that is more than a year old is no longer "lamb" it is mutton.
          A young lamb should have both excellent flavor and be very tender.
          Americans prefer lamb or young Sheep and not mutton because it does NOT have a gamey flavor. Mutton has a far more pronounced flavor and benefits far more from aging than lamb.

          1. re: Fritter

            Where I am mutton is a sheep over two years old. Between one and two years, it'd be hogget. Under one year, then it's lamb.

            I suspect you are right that many Americans will prefer the mild taste of spring lamb. Many of us in the rest of the world prefer the taste of older, more flavoursome meat. I'm very much a mutton fan but, even for lamb, will look for older animals rather than "spring lamb". I make an exception for roast unweaned lamb when I visit Spain - but it's a very different product from ordinary lamb.

            1. re: Harters

              I prefer mutton or at least older lamb as well. I just finished processing a sping or pastoral lamb. Not much yield when the hanging weight is under 40#.

    2. I really enjoy the lamb from Marin Sun Farms and have had luck with the lamb we've purchased from Golden Gate Meat Co (in the Ferry Building).

      1. Have you tried the Italian butcher in China Town, it is the one with the recipes on the window and across the street from the Bakery.