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cooked lamb leg with lots of tiny holes (sponge-like) -- should I be concerned??

n
newyorker1 Dec 29, 2011 08:15 AM

Hi all,

I roasted a boneless lamb leg for the first time the other night, and while I manged to avoid my main fear of overcooking the meat, I ran into something unexpected. When I sliced up the lamb, on almost all slices there are very small holes throughout, almost making the lamb look sponge-like (or maybe fried tofu-like, if that makes more sense -- see the attached pics.) I've never seen this before with lamb or any other meat. What's going on, and should I be concerned that there was something wrong with the lamb?? (Mad cow was the first thing that popped into my head, unfortunately...)

Thanks for any advice or guidance!

 
 
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  1. hotoynoodle RE: newyorker1 Dec 29, 2011 08:27 AM

    lamb are pastured, so mad cow wouldn't be an issue.

    i confess i've never seen anything like it, though.

    3 Replies
    1. re: hotoynoodle
      a
      AsperGirl RE: hotoynoodle Dec 29, 2011 11:09 AM

      Prions and sheep go way back. I believe it's called "scrapie". PrPSc can be found in their muscle tissue.

      1. re: hotoynoodle
        hotoynoodle RE: hotoynoodle Dec 29, 2011 05:56 PM

        ya know, i stand corrected. apparently american lamb IS grain fed. yuk.

        that pattern looks like worms or parasites. i am not a nervous nelly about food safety, but i'd chuck it. and contact whomever sold it to you.

        1. re: hotoynoodle
          fldhkybnva RE: hotoynoodle Dec 5, 2013 06:28 PM

          Me neither that would freak me out

        2. Becca Porter RE: newyorker1 Dec 29, 2011 10:33 AM

          I recently had a ham that looked exactly like that. Grossed me out a bit.

          1. rabaja RE: newyorker1 Dec 29, 2011 10:49 AM

            Could it be a sign of previously frozen and/or mishandled meat?

            1. tcamp RE: newyorker1 Dec 29, 2011 10:59 AM

              flabby, out of shape lamb? Maybe that is what cellulite looks like from the inside!

              1. blue room RE: newyorker1 Dec 29, 2011 11:25 AM

                I would contact an agricultural extension at a University in your state. Ask, they will know!

                1 Reply
                1. re: blue room
                  alkapal RE: blue room Dec 30, 2011 12:18 AM

                  that is the thing to do -- they can help in a jiffy -- if they are there, though, coming in this holiday period.

                2. h
                  Harters RE: newyorker1 Dec 29, 2011 02:11 PM

                  We eat lamb more often than any other meat - and I've never seen anything like that in 40 years cooking it. Something is not right - although I havnt a clue what that might be. Weird. Very weird.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Harters
                    alkapal RE: Harters Dec 30, 2011 12:16 AM

                    i just thought "eeew" -- that doesn't look like anything i've ever seen either.

                    1. re: alkapal
                      monavano RE: alkapal Mar 29, 2013 03:25 PM

                      ewe!
                      get it?

                      1. re: monavano
                        alkapal RE: monavano Mar 29, 2013 03:54 PM

                        very clever gal you are, miss ramona! ;-).

                  2. j
                    Joebob RE: newyorker1 Dec 29, 2011 03:18 PM

                    Was the meat prime? Could the holes be fat deposits that melted away during cooking? When I imagine the holes filled with fat, I think of wangu beef.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Joebob
                      hotoynoodle RE: Joebob Dec 29, 2011 05:56 PM

                      lamb is graded by age, not like beef.

                      1. re: hotoynoodle
                        j
                        Joebob RE: hotoynoodle Dec 29, 2011 11:45 PM

                        OK, so maybe it was mutton.

                        1. re: Joebob
                          hotoynoodle RE: Joebob Dec 30, 2011 07:13 AM

                          mutton is just older lamb, at least 1 year old, typically slaughtered at 2 years. you almost never see it anymore because it's too expensive to keep animals that long.

                          this animal isn't graded with prime or choice. just by age: baby lamb, spring lamb, lamb and mutton.

                          1. re: hotoynoodle
                            h
                            Harters RE: hotoynoodle Dec 30, 2011 07:36 AM

                            That might depend on where you are in the world. Where I am, mutton is increasingly easy to find.

                            1. re: Harters
                              hotoynoodle RE: Harters Dec 30, 2011 07:45 AM

                              very true. here in new england, i don't know that i've ever seen it. even in middle-eastern butchers.

                    2. DuchessNukem RE: newyorker1 Dec 29, 2011 07:02 PM

                      Hmm. Here's an article I found:
                      http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/20/din...

                      "The competition to supply that lamb is stiff, especially from Australia and New Zealand, where inexpensive lamb racks are essentially a byproduct of the vast and profitable wool industry. The lambs are slaughtered young so that the flavor of the meat does not get too strong, but many cooks find the texture limp and the fat too wet to roast. Typically wet-aged in Cryovac on its journey to American markets, the lamb tends to be soft and spongy. "

                      Where was your lamb from?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: DuchessNukem
                        h
                        Harters RE: DuchessNukem Dec 30, 2011 01:48 AM

                        We also have New Zealand lamb here in the UK. I occasionally buy it if there's nothing home grown but have still never seen anything like this.

                      2. o
                        oooYUM RE: newyorker1 Dec 30, 2011 04:31 AM

                        I'm so sorry, but if that was on my plate I couldn't bring myself to eat it.....

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: oooYUM
                          n
                          newyorker1 RE: oooYUM Dec 30, 2011 05:18 AM

                          Thanks for all the feedback!

                          @oooYUM - I agree! We cut off a small piece when we first roasted the lamb, so the strange appearance didn't really register. The next day when we sliced up the rest of it, is when we realized it was more pervasive throughout the roast.

                          @DuchessNukem - thanks for the link; very interesting article. I like this explanation (since it doesn't involve us getting sick/dying in the short or long term from BSE, parasites or worms) though the NYT doesn't specify what they mean by spongy - appearance-wise or firmness of the meat (e.g. when you press down on a steak to tell how done it is.) I think the lamb was indeed from Australia or New Zealand.

                          We do plan to chuck the rest of it (keeping a sample for the local university).

                          1. re: newyorker1
                            blue room RE: newyorker1 Dec 30, 2011 07:23 AM

                            Please let us know what the U tells you.

                        2. i.like.eggplant RE: newyorker1 Dec 30, 2011 04:55 AM

                          We eat lots of lamb in Australia and although I can't tell you what causes the spongy texture I can tell you I've eaten lamb like this many times before and it's never been a problem.

                          1. r
                            rasputina RE: newyorker1 Dec 30, 2011 08:18 AM

                            We eat lamb regularly too and I've never seen anything like it. I wouldn't eat it either. I'd probably feed it to the dogs though, even though I don't usually feed them cooked meat.

                            1. blue room RE: newyorker1 Dec 30, 2011 09:02 AM

                              My Mr. blue room just took a look at this, and is mystified too, but did suggest maybe it was frozen, thawed, and improperly *re*frozen -- the temperature change causing stretching and distorting the fibers (like a bridge shrinks and "grows" in hot/cold weather.) ??

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: blue room
                                n
                                newyorker1 RE: blue room Jan 2, 2012 06:18 PM

                                So I exchanged emails with someone from UMass (despite my moniker, I no longer live in NYC), and he said he consulted a meat expert who said the holes were from the purveyor tenderizing the meat by using a needle (series of needles??) to break up the tough fibers in the lamb meat. (This was all via email; I had sent the same pictures I posted in this thread.)

                                1. re: newyorker1
                                  honkman RE: newyorker1 Jan 2, 2012 07:07 PM

                                  Most steak houses "jaccardize" their meat (mainly their beef steaks etc.) but that doesn't give it such consistency

                                  1. re: honkman
                                    hotoynoodle RE: honkman Jan 2, 2012 07:51 PM

                                    as somebody who has done my time working in some high-end steak joints, it DOES NOT make holes that size. nor does it make the meat spongy. it's also not done to lamb.

                                  2. re: newyorker1
                                    C. Hamster RE: newyorker1 Mar 28, 2013 06:11 PM

                                    I seriously doubt that explanation

                                    1. re: newyorker1
                                      fldhkybnva RE: newyorker1 Dec 5, 2013 07:12 PM

                                      This still grosses me out but the tenderizer idea might be right, it looks like there are tenderizers with much bigger bore size than a typical Jaccqard http://www.ebay.com/itm?itemId=190878...

                                      1. re: fldhkybnva
                                        alkapal RE: fldhkybnva Dec 8, 2013 04:21 AM

                                        If it was from getting poked with tenderizer, would the holes be so haphazard? Would not it be machine done? Or some low skilled guy jabbing it as it goes by on a conveyer belt? And if so, wouldn't the holes be from the sides it, rather than from the ends? Hmmm, maybe it is injected along the grain....

                                  3. alkapal RE: newyorker1 Jan 2, 2012 10:38 PM

                                    if you want more feedback, you might contact some lamb industry associations…or check their sites: http://www.google.com/search?client=s...

                                    and i agree with hotoynoodle's comment.

                                    1. t
                                      TunaNow RE: newyorker1 Apr 13, 2012 11:01 PM

                                      I found this pattern in a pork loin I cooked for Easter. I had never seen it before in any piece of meat in many decades of cooking. I plan to call USDA food safety.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: TunaNow
                                        t
                                        TunaNow RE: TunaNow Apr 17, 2012 03:06 PM

                                        I called the USDA Food Safety folks who will be investigating this incident based on info from the pork loin package. They said NOT to eat the meat or even the vegetables that I cooked with it.

                                        1. re: TunaNow
                                          alkapal RE: TunaNow Apr 18, 2012 03:05 AM

                                          good for you. anxious to hear report.

                                      2. b
                                        BeetMan RE: newyorker1 Mar 28, 2013 05:59 PM

                                        Hey @newyorker1, did you get any definitive info on this? We are currently staring at some lamb chops with the exact same formation after we cooked it. So far, this is about the only thread I found online addressing this specifically. Can you advise?

                                        1. alkapal RE: newyorker1 Mar 29, 2013 02:51 PM

                                          contact the american lamb council and ask. http://www.americanlamb.com
                                          they also have a facebook page you could post on.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: alkapal
                                            b
                                            BeetMan RE: alkapal Mar 29, 2013 03:12 PM

                                            Much appreciated. I sent them a note.

                                            1. re: BeetMan
                                              alkapal RE: BeetMan Dec 8, 2013 04:18 AM

                                              Ever get a reply?

                                          2. c
                                            cporre22 RE: newyorker1 Dec 5, 2013 06:23 PM

                                            I just found the same thing in a pork loin. I hope this isnt worms or parasites. I ate it anyway. Tasted fine.

                                             
                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: cporre22
                                              fldhkybnva RE: cporre22 Dec 5, 2013 06:30 PM

                                              Freaky

                                              1. re: fldhkybnva
                                                hotoynoodle RE: fldhkybnva Dec 5, 2013 07:43 PM

                                                "regular" meat does NOT look like this.

                                                1. re: hotoynoodle
                                                  fldhkybnva RE: hotoynoodle Dec 5, 2013 08:01 PM

                                                  Agreed!

                                                  1. re: hotoynoodle
                                                    hill food RE: hotoynoodle Dec 5, 2013 08:07 PM

                                                    hotoy - yes.

                                                    I have never, ever seen anything like this (and I have eaten some desperately cheap cuts in low places)

                                              2. fldhkybnva RE: newyorker1 Dec 7, 2013 09:55 AM

                                                My favorite butcher says it's a sign of well marbled tender meat, the fat deposits melted away

                                                7 Replies
                                                1. re: fldhkybnva
                                                  hill food RE: fldhkybnva Dec 7, 2013 07:48 PM

                                                  fldh - I respect a lot of what you say, I really do. but does your butcher also piss on your head and tell you it's raining?

                                                  1. re: hill food
                                                    fldhkybnva RE: hill food Dec 7, 2013 09:47 PM

                                                    Yea, I kept asking if that really was what he thought and he kept repeating it. I didn't really believe him since I've had well marbled meats and never seen that before but would have been awkward to argue and I thought I should at least offer another opinion here. I even pointed out that one picture was of a pork loin which generally is not known for being particularly well-marbled to the extent that it has visible fat deposits. Don't worry I'm still Googling for an answer to this.

                                                    1. re: fldhkybnva
                                                      c
                                                      cporre22 RE: fldhkybnva Dec 8, 2013 06:03 AM

                                                      OK. Apparently this is an issue under research by the meat industry. Genetic in some pigs (lamb too?) or possibly caused by solution used for tenderizing (not needles). Google 'pore formation pork loin' or check out this scholarly article. Bottom line...safe but undesirable to look at.
                                                      http://www.researchgate.net/publicati...

                                                      1. re: cporre22
                                                        fldhkybnva RE: cporre22 Dec 8, 2013 07:57 AM

                                                        Awesome, thanks! I did ponder whether it could be a myopathy but then would expect the entire cut to be much smaller. Thanks for the link.

                                                        1. re: fldhkybnva
                                                          a
                                                          Alan408 RE: fldhkybnva Dec 8, 2013 08:11 AM

                                                          Didn't you purchase deli meat that looked similar?

                                                          My last purchase of Costco NY Steaks looked similar, maybe Jun 2013.

                                                          The package was labeled tenderized

                                                          There is information on the web regarding this.

                                                          There has been E. coli contamination from this type of tenderizing.

                                                          1. re: Alan408
                                                            fldhkybnva RE: Alan408 Dec 8, 2013 08:15 AM

                                                            Yes, the deli meat did look similar but that's clearly a processed, mashed together meat. I assumed the lamb and pork here were not processed and actual whole cuts.

                                                    2. re: hill food
                                                      hill food RE: hill food Dec 7, 2013 10:09 PM

                                                      does anyone else find it odd that fldhkybnva hasn't responded in a long long time? I hear a distinct small and informed voice in the wee hours, I sense the absence of a presence. the diction is faint yet precise.

                                                      oh lord I'm an ass. I do wonder if your butcher may have been just "moving product".

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