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Apr 29, 2014 01:21 PM

Lamb healthier than beef?

For what I understand all lamb being grass fed is a healthier choice than most beef. With that said what are the negatives? Hormones? and is there a reputable source for a healthy product? Is buying from a Halal meat market healthier? Thanks

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  1. All I know is that a chef told me that lamb smelled SO BAD
    that he could barely force himself to prepare and cook it.
    I've happily abstained from lamb all my life.

    6 Replies
      1. re: linguafood

        Really! I think much more typical would be a man who cooked alongside my ex at a vegetarian place in Nashville; as far as she or anyone else knew he and his wife were both strictly vegetarian. One day he pulled out his prized knife and there was a nick in the blade. "Seth, what happened to your knife?" she cried. "Ssshhh!" he replied, blushing a bit, and muttered, "Lamb bone."

        Lamb may not be health food exactly, but it is much less productive of uric acid than beef, which I consider important for everyone and very important if you're subject to gout, as I am. I think the fat may be more digestible too, but I'm not sure of that. I never had any until I was in my teens; my father had been fed very rank mutton in the army and wouldn't have lamb in the house, but I had some on a trip to Chicago and it was love at first bite (to coin a phrase). Been nuts for it ever since.

        1. re: Will Owen

          It was never on my mother's radar (she grew up with beef, veal and chicken - and the occasional goose -, never encountered turkey or lamb). My first couple of tries were hit-or-miss, neither a "wow!" nor a "bleh", but when I had good lamb, properly prepared, I was hooked.

      2. re: VenusCafe

        Is there any context to this or is it just stream-of-consciousness?

        1. re: VenusCafe

          I've encountered some lamb that smelled. I've come across far more that didn't - and happily bought it, cooked it, and ate it. Yum!

          1. re: VenusCafe

            Take a sniff at Betsy sometime ...

          2. Lamb is not immune to factory farming and can also be grain-finished, so grass-fed is not guaranteed. Halal is not a quality certification, it's a method of slaughtering, just like Kosher certification. Some Kosher certifications ("glatt" is an example) take extra steps to assure that the animal is in better health but it's not a guarantee of meat quality or farming methods.

            1 Reply
            1. re: ferret

              Thanks for that info. I'll have to research further to find a supplier that meets my standard .

            2. It's not healthier for the lamb......

              1. To me, there are no negatives to eating lamb and we probably eat it more often than beef. I would always prefer to eat a lamb chop, rather than a beef steak. Or a lamb meatball over a beef one.

                It is, almost inherently, free range so I don't have any ethical purchasing decisions to make that I may have with other meats. I am happy to buy supermarket lamb without qualms, where I may not always be able to source acceptable other meats there. That said, I buy most of our meat either at farmers markets or direct from a farm, over the internet. The farm we currently use is organic and we can get beef, lamb and pork from them. Certainly I don't see lamb or other sheep meat being healthier than other meats.

                As for halal (or kosher) meats, there are no health benefits. Halal & kosher meats are mainly about animals being slaughtered in specific ways to accord with religious doctrine.

                1. I am told that American bred lamb is less gamey tasting than New Zealand or Australian. I also believe that prepping and marinating will change the flavor profile for lamb.

                  19 Replies
                  1. re: treb

                    I've never tasted lamb that was "gamey". Not even when it's actually been hogget or mutton - they just taste like lamb, but a more pronounced flavour. I never buy NZ lamb as I find it too mild. On the other hand, I've eaten some excellent full-flavoured Colorado lamb when I've visited America.

                    1. re: Harters

                      I hate that description of lamb, lamb tastes like lamb, not game.

                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                        I wouldnt even say that game tastes generically gamey. Venison tastes like venison, pheasant like pheasant and rabbit like, well, not very much of anything.

                        1. re: Harters

                          OK, yes lamb tasted like lamb and chicken..... well like most everything else.

                          1. re: treb

                            Lamb that tastes like chicken? Ho boy, would I be disappointed.

                            1. re: linguafood

                              now if we could breed chicken that tasted like lamb we'd be on to something big...

                              1. re: linguafood

                                You read my 'and' with an implied 'also' chicken tastes like well..... BTW - I have a killer marinade for leg of lamb.

                            2. re: Harters

                              Harters, a good wild rabbit definitely has a flavor. My father was an excellent woodsman and good shot, and we ate quite a few of those in season, usually simply browned and braised, sometimes as häsenpfeffer. But you're right about the tame ones … though there used to be a rabbit restaurant outside of Anchorage, AK, open only during the warmer months, where the "pen" was a fenced but very large grassy lawn where your dinner's former chums leaped and cavorted and nibbled as rabbits do, and the meat was much the better for it. For those tender souls not willing to view this there was another room with a good view of the parking lot.

                              1. re: Will Owen

                                and if you grow 'em a good forage of rosemary, garlic and fennel you're halfway there.

                                1. re: Will Owen

                                  Will - I was speaking sort of comparitively, in the context of the thread. Rabbit is always a delicate meat, even when wild - wild is commonly available for sale in the UK. Mr Bunny is regarded as an agricultural pest, so it's always open season on shooting them ( as it is with pigeons), which means it's generally always available at butchers and farmers markets. Supermarkets tend to sell farmed rabbit which, generally speaking, is extremely mild in flavour.

                                  1. re: Harters

                                    And as you've certainly learned by now it's not legal to sell truly wild game of any sort in the Land of the Free, probably because heaven knows where the little darlings have been and what diseases they're carrying, as though the woods were somehow filthier than those stockyards. There are game farms that raise and slaughter deer, boar and probably hare as well, and outfits such as d'Artagnan that sell them for eye-watering sums, but the only way most of us will get to eat a "free-range" rabbit here is to raise them, hunt them, or know someone who does.

                                    Okay, we'd better get back to the baa-lambs …

                          2. re: treb

                            I've had the opposite experience, but that could be the store I buy meat from. The older the animal, I've found, the stronger the taste and smell.

                            If you're used to beef, lamb has a distinctive small and taste that can take some getting used to. I think it comes from the higher fat content, and when I buy a leg of lamb I usually trim as much of the fat off as possible.

                            1. re: tardigrade

                              i have no problem using the term 'gamey' to refer to meat that has a 'stronger, wilder flavor.' And my good Greek chef/friend taught me years ago that one must spend alot of time removing the fat from lamb before cooking it- in order to remove that gaminess. It's always worked for me. Lots of fat between those muscles. So I usually end up with pieces of diff sizes, off the bone. I don't ever prepare a bone-in leg of lamb.

                              When i was in business, my vendor called this labor intensive state- 'boned, de-fatted and seamed' and it was about twice the cost of 'as is'.

                              1. re: opinionatedchef

                                I like the gamey quality, if I don't want flavor when eating flesh I'll eat boneless skinless chicken breast or processed turkey. but even then I'd rather just have tofu.

                                1. re: opinionatedchef

                                  Second the vote for gamey, hill food. My favorite cuts of lamb are neck and shoulder, both of which I've used in cassoulet, neither boned nor trimmed until final assembly.

                                  It's interesting to note a significant cultural difference between UK and US tastes in Harters' comments below. In this country people reject strong flavors and pay extra for the most innocuous meats, although we 'Hounds and like-minded food freaks are beginning to appreciate goat and mutton where it can be found. The only purveyors of mutton to Middle America I know of are the two or three barbecued-mutton restaurants still surviving in Kentucky.

                                  1. re: Will Owen

                                    oh I love shoulder chops and broil 'em like I would loin (shorter time) and they're cheaper!

                                2. re: tardigrade

                                  You're absolutely right, tardigrade. Meat from any older animal is always going to have a more developed taste than that from a young one. It's why mutton and hogget always carry a premium price over young lamb. Same happens with older beef cattle and, in my experience, also with organic free range chicken which tend to be allowed to live longer before slaughter. As in most things in life, you get what you pay for.

                                  1. re: Harters

                                    Like many strong ,oily and "gamey" fish, the use of herbs are preferred. Oregano,thyme ,rosemary etc.with liberal use of lemon when cooking lamb .I'm not fond of the traditional mint jelly.