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What's the best way to introduce Lamb to someone who's never had it?

I'll be visiting friends in Illinois in mid-September, and neither one of them have ever eaten lamb in their lives. I'd asked the husband if he liked lamb; and he responded "I don't know, I've never had it." It purely boggled my mind. When I visit them and stay a week, I usually cook one or two meals (also at least one weekend breakfast.)

I'd like to be able to introduce them to lamb; however, I haven't a clue what would be the best way to introduce lamb virgins to this rich-tasting, delectable meat. (I've also posted on the Great Plains board, looking for suggestions as to where I can get the best lamb. It's a fair bet neither one of them knows where to buy it.) http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/985321

Ways I've been known to prepare lamb: broiled shoulder chops with honey mustard, Shepherd's Pie, grilled butterflied leg of lamb (marinated in garlic, olive oil and Rosemary), lamb burgers, both straightforward as cheeseburgers (Jarlsberg), and Middle Eastern style with tzatziki in pita, Mongolian Lamb stir-fry, braised lamb shanks, Irish Lamb Stew, plain pan-fried lamb steaks.

Any and all ideas, suggestions, recipes, hints, and strategies, are both welcome and appreciated. If you've ever done a "lamb intervention" I really want to hear from you!

One ingredient I cannot use, as the husband is allergic to them: mushrooms.

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  1. I think that Irish Lamb Stew (made with Guinness) would be a safe introduction.

    1 Reply
    1. re: pikawicca

      It's a thought, for sure. Wearher will, of course, play a role in what I make. What's available at the market is also going to be a factor.

    2. I guess it would depend on the temperatures (if that ever influences your cooking - it does for me) at the time.

      If it's already very fall-like, I'd go for a stew or a braise - youvetsi being one of my favorite cold weather lamb dishes: so comforting!

      But if it's still sunny & warm, Mediterranean-style marinated lamb shish kebabs (or the grilled butterflied leg you suggested) sound perfect.

      Lamb lovah, here, in case you couldn't tell '-)

      1. I've been making the Frugal Gourmet's Lamb with Orzo Pasta for years and years and think it would be perfect for what you're wanting to do. Lots of non-lamb flavor going on. What I didn't realize until a couple of years ago is that it called for a whole piece of lamb shoulder and I'd been doing big cubes. I prefer it like that actually.

        http://www.recipeslib.com/frugal-gour...

        1. I would suggest a chop broiled or on the grill -

          2 Replies
          1. re: weinstein5

            Agreed. Lamb loin chops are fairly mild and have a familiar beef like texture (as long as they like it med rare.) They're a good gateway cut- true lamb taste without being gamey.

            Burgers and meatballs can be pretty mild, too, but can be manipulated by the added ingredients and you're trying to introduce them to lamb, not to burgers or meatballs.

            1. re: weinstein5

              I'm kind of leaning in that direction. Availability at the markets is going to be an issue.

            2. Have a friend who claimed not to like lamb. I invited him to a dinner party in the country, told him a grilled butterflied leg of lamb would be on the menu but that there would be plenty of other things to eat if he didn't want the lamb. He came, and, as I'm sure you've guessed, loved the lamb. Marinated in rosemary and garlic and grilled so that parts were medium rare and parts more well done allowed him to choose the pieces that most appealed. With so many other flavors, it didn't seem "barnyardy" to him as other cuts had before. Can't say he became a convert, but he did have seconds.

              1 Reply
              1. re: JoanN

                That's been my experience with grilled boneless leg of lamb as well. The different muscles yield different doneness levels and people can get what they want.