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Where to find New Zealand Lamb?

Is it even available in our area anymore? It used to be ubiquitous, even in the Market Baskets and suchlike. Is there an embargo? Mad lamb disease?

J. Pace & Sons (Saugus) used to carry Australian lamb, but now doesn't carry that anymore (only American). A friend checked last week in Butcher Boy market (N. Andover) to no avail.

Ideally, I'd like to not travel more than a half hour from Salem, NH for it. Any ideas? The holidays are coming. Thanks as always, faithful 'hounds.

Market Basket
RR 1, Rockland, ME 04841

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  1. Isn't Costco lamb NZ or AU? I really love theirs. The legs, chops and racks.

    1 Reply
    1. re: c oliver

      I don't know. Never been to Costco (BJ's is closer), but I will check. Thank you.

    2. What is it you prefer about NZ lamb over VT or NH lamb?

      3 Replies
      1. re: Morganna

        The breeds taste "lambier"...more like the lamb of my childhood. Was told by a butcher friend years ago that Americans tend to not like "game-y" tastes in their meat, particularly lamb, so that many American breeds are raised to have a "sweeter" or more neutral tasting meat.

        1. re: pinehurst

          Have you given any of the locally NH-raised lamb a try? I am not a fan of lamb, but from the flavor of the other locally raised meats, I am thinking that local lamb may be a good substitute.

          1. re: solargarlic

            Yeah, that's what I was thinking. There's a local farmer here (in Vermont) with lamb that I'll be buying a whole lamb from. There are lots of local farmers who are doing different breeds than what sells most in mass market sources. Try going to some farmer's markets in your area, there's probably at least one vendor that sells lamb. Try their lamb and see what you think of it. Then you can talk about buying a side or a whole from them (the price is WAY better if you buy like that). :)

      2. It is becoming hard to find Aussie/NZ lamb because of a few issues. The flooding and cyclones have affected their entire economy for one. According to the owners of a few of the largest meat packing companies in Boston, we are going to have "issues" with lamb for the unforseen future. The price has gone up drastically on our (retailer) end and supposedly we haven't seen the end of the increases. Good luck, and if I come across some I will be sure to post it's availability. What cuts are you looking for?

        1. Thanks to all the replies! I may try to go locally. Purchaser, I usually do both a rack of lamb and a leg of lamb (or I have in the past), two different ways. It's funny (not ha ha, you know what I mean) but even in the chain stores, lamb--any lamb, any cut--is becoming less and less of a presence. That's too bad.

          14 Replies
          1. re: pinehurst

            I manage a butcher shop in S. NH and lamb is behind beef/chicken/pork by a long way. It's become an afterthought for most people, but we are only a few generations away from when it was the staple meat. Finding leg of lamb is rare nowadays, except around Easter time.

            1. re: purchaser1

              Our best friend married a woman from the UK (and she's moved here) and she finds it utterly bizarre how she can't get lamb, and inexpensively at that, in the grocery store. When we went over to the UK for the wedding, I was amazed at how large the lamb section of the supermarkets we went to was. I was also amazed to see -duck fat-, rendered jars of duck fat, at the local CONVENIENCE store near the apartment we'd rented for the week. :)

              I can't even get duck fat at a specialty shop here in the US (I don't think). I'd probably have to render my own or mail order it or something.

              1. re: Morganna

                I'm surprised that you were amazed to find so much lamb in the UK. More than once while visiting we've had flocks of sheep block country roads :)

                The last time I bought duck fat was in WF and it was about $10 for a good-sized (16oz?) container. It lasts me quite a while.

                1. re: c oliver

                  A dish that we had at least once a week during the cold months was very cheap cuts of lamb with string beans....sort of like a stew. with the lamb as the "stew beef". My dad, who hailed from near Naples (Italy) would make this....very few ingredients, very good. I also remember lamb sausage (of all things) being available.

                  So shall I seek out a local farmer in the southern NH/ME area, or do I just go with a lamb leg/rack from a local food store whether that be Whole Foods or Costco or...? It'll be just 10 guests, so I guess I don't need a huge quantity.

                  I'm not sure why lamb is so unpopular. Maybe because it tastes like "something", unlike more neutral-tasting 'meats' that kids eat (chicken nuggets?). I can understand that someone could prefer the taste (or not) to other meats, but it's super easy to prepare. Off topic, c oliver that's a nice price on the duck fat.

                  1. re: pinehurst

                    I would absolutely go with a local farmer, but that's just how I usually make my meat purchases. My friends that eat plenty of lamb get it in NH and think it's really great. I wish I knew the name of the specific farm, but depending where you are, I'm sure it won't be hard to find.

                    btw, I think I cannot eat lamb bc my neighbors when I was a kid raised a lamb for several weeks, slaughtered it, hung it in their basement, and then roasted it for Easter. I had pet the lamb in their garage and then saw it hanging, and at the time could not get over that. Then there was the smell that permeated the neighborhood....just a negative experience that is hard to get over.

                    1. re: solargarlic

                      Absolutely understandable about the lamb. I will let you know how it goes with my lamb quest. Thanks, solargarlic.

                    2. re: pinehurst

                      My husband doesn't like meat that has a strong taste. Lamb is just too strong for him (gamy). He likes beef, pork, chicken, and turkey. He tolerates buffalo, but that's skirting the edge. Lamb, unless it's heavily marinated and grilled (which reduces its gaminess) just doesn't do much for him. I, on the other hand, ADORE gamy meats. :)

                      1. re: Morganna

                        I have found NZ lamb at Stop & Shop on Valley St in Manchester. Just bought rack of lamb this week. I have also found leg of lamb and goat there. Always very good. I think because of it's location( inner city), it's serves a diverse population and carries things you might not otherwise find.

                        1. re: Morganna

                          It seems odd to me that anyone thinks lamb is strong tasting or 'gamey.' I just don't get it.

                          1. re: c oliver

                            I think one's palate-likes depend in part on the foods that you were introduced to growing up? I could be wrong. My H. came from a family whose dinners were typically bland....if I use a dash of garlic powder in a dish (and I'm talking an 1/8 tsp or so, not a half handful) he knows, and has a negative reaction; he has zero tolerance for "heat" in food either...doesn't even like black pepper. Salt is his one "spice". He grew up eating four meats: pot roast (the only way beef was prepared), hot dogs, roast turkey and ham. I grew up eating whatever my family grew/shot/fished. We were at a wedding two summers ago where the appetizer table was a raw bar with shrimp cocktail, lobster tails, etc. He was horrified. You know what I mean? De gustibus and all that. Still love him, but it's strange to me.

                            1. re: pinehurst

                              I like to say that there are two types of people: Those that want what is good, and those that want what is familiar.

                              1. re: pinehurst

                                I moved from Atlanta to SF in 1976. Had never even tasted lamb. Went to a now closed restaurant and had rack of lamb. Never found anything about it to be strong/gamey tasting. Never turned back :)

                                I gotta say that there are probably many, many, many people who aren't going to eat raw shrimp and lobster. Actually I've never had raw lobster. But if were presented to me, I would certainly try it.

                  2. Just an update: The aussie lamb racks we got in this week are costing me the same price I used to charge for them! We are getting $16/lb for racks right now and supposedly the price will be going up...

                    1. Thank you, Purchaser, even with the ouch. Crowdingthepan, I agree, and think that you and c oliver and I are describing a what my late mom used to describe as the "not an adventurous eater" type. It makes me sad when my niece (nine years old) will happily eat blue, chemically hyper-sour candy but won't take a bite of my (mild) curried chicken salad sandwich when dining out.

                      By the way, I should correct that the shrimp and lobster were cooked, but the oysters, clams, etc, were raw. I was too vague.

                      Purchaser, give me a ballpark figure if you can. If you pay $16, what's a range of what customers should expect to pay. Go ahead, tell me. I've got my coffee and I'm ready ;-)

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: pinehurst

                        I would look at doing mail order through D'Artagnan, and expect to pay $16-18 per pound. Commercially, they are running $12.50 lb. if your buying large amounts. Australian lamb racks are the thing to get nowadays, as they are fresh (never frozen) while New Zealand seems to always be frozen.

                        1. re: simplyput

                          Sorry for the confusion...we are selling them for $16/lb, just not making much on them! Simplyput..we are buying in bulk and still paying over $13/lb, but as far as I know all the Aussie and NZ lamb is previously frozen. We usually receive it with a deep chill on it, but it has been thawing in a Boston meat packing company's possesion.

                          1. re: purchaser1

                            They keep saying the price is still going up, but have been trying to hold strong at $12.60lb this week. It's still higher than I'd like to pay, but there's not much we can do about that. They are not previously frozen from what I'm told, and they always appear fresh to me. For a high end meat company, I actually find D'Artagnan's prices to be fair. I know they do mail order, but it's a lot more expensive about $45 for a 1.5lb. rack, fresh or frozen.

                            1. re: purchaser1

                              Purchaser, makes sense that it'd be prev. frozen. Those aren't the worst prices...I've paid more for stuff I love less.

                              1. re: pinehurst

                                I decided to do more research on this adn after speaking to the owner of one of the largest meat companies in Boston have confirmed that all the lamb commercially available from Aus is frozen as it is shipped over by boat. That being said, I still think the quality/consistency are great and will continue to sell it in our butcher shop.
                                Lamb top rounds are a better buy right now if you have a hankering...u can usually get them for around $10-11/lb.

                                1. re: purchaser1

                                  Even locally raised meats are sold frozen! All my nearby farms have their meats flash frozen and cryovaced by the slaughterhouse, as long as it's done the right way it's not all that terrible. Unfortunately in both cases, it's just the way it has to be done.

                                  1. re: purchaser1

                                    I just got off the phone with D'artagnan in Newark. Cryovac lamb racks are always sold to businesses fresh. They are on a boat to Port Angeles, then Fed ex'd by plane into Newark. Shelf life of 10 weeks as long as they stay cryovaced.

                                    1. re: simplyput

                                      I also buy local pigs, and whole lambs. They are always fresh, coming to me within days of slaughter, with stamps on it's side. It's out there, just takes a little time finding it.

                                      1. re: simplyput

                                        Would you mind sharing sources? The farms in my town (and nearby towns) are always frozen. They usually use Blood slaughterhouse in Groton, MA.

                          2. Have you checked out the local Halal markets? Spices in Manchester gets his lamb, goat and veal and cuts it himself. I really like both the lamb and the goat meat.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: qianning

                              No, and that's a great idea. I think there's a Halal market/butcher pretty close to me in Methuen, near the mosque. Can't think of the street name but it's off of Oakland Ave.

                              1. re: pinehurst

                                Good luck with that. I don't know the Salem well enough to suggest anything specific, but if you can't find anything down there, let me know & I can give you some ideas in the Manchester/Nashua area. Or check the Boston boards for things closer in to the city, I'm pretty sure there are some posts out there..