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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.

              2. I'd go with something that does not add a lot of extra flavors so that of the lamb remains distinct. If, for example, the friends are not fond of honey mustard, they won't enjoy your broiled chops. I love braised lamb dishes but there's a lot of other stuff going on in those entrees. Go with grilled/broiled/pan-seared chops, steaks, or burgers.

                6 Replies
                1. re: greygarious

                  I'll disagree about that. OP may WANT to ease them into it. The recipe I listed above has the following ingredients. Pretty run of the mill - not in the honey mustard league :) and I'm not fond of that either.


                  Lamb With Orzo Pasta Greek Style

                  Serving Size : 6
                  Ingredients:
                  Amount Measure Ingredient - Preparation Method
                  3 pounds Boneless lamb shoulder
                  3 tablespoons Olive oil - for pan browning
                  Salt to taste
                  Freshly-ground black pepper to taste
                  6 cups Chicken stock - fresh or canned
                  1/2 cup Olive oil
                  2 cups Orzo pasta
                  1 1/2 cups Chopped yellow onion
                  2 large Tomatoes, red ripe - chopped
                  2 teaspoons Dried dill weed
                  1/4 cup Chopped parsley

                  1. re: c oliver

                    Funny, because I also thought of starting with a highly spiced lamb dish to "ease" into the flavor of the lamb. I'd go for a lamb kheema, served with naan or chapatis. Or maybe a kofta, as monavano says (below).

                  2. re: greygarious

                    I have to agree with you. My husband has never cared for lamb so I never served it at family meals with our son. I often made myself a treat dinner when it was just the two adults of kidney lamb chops, very pricey and delicious, broiled with salt and pepper period. Much to my surprise our son had enjoyed several meals of grilled lamb chops at friends' parents so when he came home early and surprised me in the kitchen one night when I was making my treat, I had to share my chops.

                    1. re: greygarious

                      I agree, Grey. First, I would choose mild rather than mutton-y lamb (even though I love the stronger stuff), cook it plain with just salt and pepper, and cooked medium. If you serve, for example, lamb curry, how will they know if they like lamb?

                      1. re: mwhitmore

                        Excellent point. If I wanted to introduce them to curry, I'd go with chicken. Then we could determine if they like curry. I have made curries, and plan to make a lamb curry in the Fall for the first time for myself, but not for my friends. At least, not this time.

                      2. re: greygarious

                        At this point, I'm kinda leaning that way. I didn't know whether I should go fullbore on the barely adorned flavors of lamb, or mix it up. What I don't want is to make a dish with lamb, have them not like it, and on the basis of that dish decide they don't like lamb and never eat it again.

                        1. Lamb kofta
                          pastitsio

                          I think to really know what lamb tastes like, you need to do a simple burger, or go for rack of lamb or loin.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: monavano

                            Simple appears to be where I'm headed. Thank you.

                          2. 2nd on Lamb Burger for sure. Add egg, bread crumbs, garlic, salt, pepper, chop gently, don't overcook. Texture is familiar,
                            no fatty edge, a cut above the best beef burgers.

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: Bashful3

                              Egg and breadcrumbs sounds like a meatloaf to me :) I only grind the meat and add nothing.

                              1. re: c oliver

                                No egg or bread crumbs here either.
                                S+P, maybe some melted butter and soy sauce.

                                1. re: monavano

                                  Butter and soy, what a concept! Reminds me of a thread I started some months back on that very flavor combo. I'm going to have to try that here on my own Lamb burger. Thanks.

                                  1. re: mcsheridan

                                    That's where I got my idea from.
                                    What a revelation it's been!

                                    1. re: monavano

                                      And so, we've come full circle. :)

                                2. re: c oliver

                                  Same here; filler for meatballs, filler for meatloaf, not for burgers.

                                3. re: Bashful3

                                  I love lamb, but I've had lamburgers that were horribly fatty.

                                4. Just to interject here...I don't want to stop the flow by responding to particular posts. Just want to let you all know I'm loving this! Keep it coming!

                                  1. I adore lamb, but when I'm serving people who are picky, I grill it, usually in the form of lamb burgers mixed with chopped fresh mint and garlic. Even people who claim not to like lamb really enjoy these, especially in good pita with cucumbers and tzatziki.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Isolda

                                      Plain seasoning or Greek-style seems to be the consensus developing here. Frankly, it's starting to become my choice as well.

                                    2. Depends on their tastes. If they enjoy a good steak cooked medium rare than I'd go with the leg of lamb or the chops. Otherwise a recipe which has less pure lamb flavor would be a good introduction.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: meatn3

                                        Another good point; they do like steak. I don't recall their doneness preferences, though. I can inquire before I get out there. Thanks!

                                      2. marinated grilled rib chops with tzatziki

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: jpr54_1

                                          I like that. If availability makes it possible, I can go that route. I especially like the idea that I could serve the tzatziki on the side and they can judge those two things independently. Meanwhile, I can go whole hog and enjoy!

                                        2. The first lamb I ever had was a roast with rosemary. It was medium rare and delicious. I even had to eat mine rewarmed as I arrived late to the party due to a late flight. A little thin gravy and roasted potatoes made this a wonderful dinner. (Good red wine didn't hurt, either...)

                                          Otherwise lamb stew or gyros might be good.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: travelerjjm

                                            If I was dealing with more people, I probably go for a whole leg of lamb, if it were available. I think I have to stick with chops, burgers or lamb steaks if available. The whole thing hinges on what's available in the markets.

                                            1. re: mcsheridan

                                              Do they live near a Costco? We've always liked theirs.

                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                I don't believe so; in any case, I'm not a member, and I don't know if they would be.

                                          2. Tell them it is The Official Meat of the Chicago Bears Training Table.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Fowler

                                              :D

                                              Is it? j/k

                                              Anyway, they're not Illinois natives, much less Bears fans. The meat will rise or fall on its own merits, and my skill in cooking it.

                                            2. this recipe looked good also
                                              http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/20...

                                              Mini Grilled Gyro Burgers With Tzatziki and Pickled Peperoncini

                                              1. Either kabobs or leg of lamb cooked on the grill. I would never suggest a stew or other dish where the lamb ends up well done for first timers.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: rasputina

                                                  I love the idea of kabobs- just squeeze some fresh lemon over and serve with tzatziki.

                                                  1. re: rasputina

                                                    I'll go with this -- my mom made kabobs marinated in red wine vinegar and garlic when we were kids -- it turns out fork-tender and very, very mild.

                                                    My dad's dad bellowed and bluffed about not liking lamb because it was too damned gamy, but mom had already marinated the lamb prior to their visit, so that's what went on the table. He ate three helpings before trying to argue that it was beef. (yeah, my granddad could be like that) He loved it, and asked her to make it for him when he lived with them later.

                                                    1. re: rasputina

                                                      Good point on doneness. Whether it's lamb or beef, I'm not sure that a braise serves as an introduction to all the flavor and texture of the meat. That said, nothing appeals to me more in Fall & Winter than braised meats in all their glory.

                                                    2. Anything from Ottolenghi

                                                      1. A widowed friend had just met a man she liked. We invited them both for dinner. I made beer-braised lamb shanks and the evening was proceeding nicely. The new man praised my dinner to the heavens, saying he'd never had such richly flavored beef, etc. He then began a tirade about how disgusting lamb is, people who eat lamb must be deranged and/or stupid and on and on and on. When he paused for breath, he asked me what was in our dinner that made it so delicious and I replied "lamb". I don't think he spoke much for the rest of the evening ...

                                                        So, mcsheridan, if you seek an introductory lamb dish, this one has withstood the test.

                                                        I also use lamb neck chunks to make a pasta sauce - braise them in a garlic-y tomato sauce for a couple of hours. Yum. Yes, you do need to pick the meat off the bones but it shreds itself quite easily.

                                                        Good luck on your quest. Whatever you do, you'll be accomplishing a public service.

                                                        9 Replies
                                                        1. re: Sherri

                                                          Oh, goody! I have a package of lamb necks in the freezer but had no idea what to do with them. Now I do :) Thanks as always, Sherri.

                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                            You're more than welcome, c. Nice to find an inexpensive cut to help with a 'lamb fix'. Used to be lamb riblets, even lamb shanks were dirt cheap ... used to be, no longer.

                                                            Another good thing to do with lamb neck is make Scotch broth. This hearty soup would be right up your alley when the first snows fall. Barley, lamb, carrots and onions are the staples and you can futz with whatever else makes your heart sing. Mushrooms and turnips are a nice addition too. This is delicious, thrifty, easy, warming and hearty - hard to ask more from a humble bowl of soup.

                                                            1. re: Sherri

                                                              LOVE barley!!! I think I'll wait as you suggest. Here's hoping for a long, white winter! Thanks.

                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                lagatta runs screaming from this comment. I know you are in the mountains, but I live in Montréal, and this past winter was horribly white (well, dirty urban grey) and very, very cold. Everyone was depressed.

                                                                But we did eat some great lamb dishes to cheer ourselves up. Including necks.

                                                                However I wouldn't suggest exposing your ovine virgin to lamb offal: livers, heart, kidneys. To say nothing of the ovine version of "prairie oysters" (I've never eaten that).

                                                                1. re: lagatta

                                                                  I'm with you on one count, at least. I'm not looking forward to the "W" word, definitely not the "S" word. Not after last year! NNJ got hammered!

                                                                  On the other point, I don't eat offal; you're right that it would not be a good introduction.

                                                              2. re: Sherri

                                                                I don't see a lot of Lamb neck in my local markets, but I'm going to have to look for it come the Fall. I like this idea. Thank you.

                                                                1. re: mcsheridan

                                                                  corrado's in wayne. almost bought some a couple of weeks ago, but realized i wasn't going to be cooking for awhile.

                                                                  1. re: jiffypop

                                                                    miss Corrado's
                                                                    they were not inWayne when I lived in Oakland

                                                                    1. re: jiffypop

                                                                      Thanks for that tip; I'm long overdue to make my first visit to Corrados.

                                                            2. My immediate instinct is to go for lamb kebabs, Persian-style - that is, marinated in a bath of lemon juice, onions, and pepper, then grilled. Served with saffroned Basmati rice and one of the many Persian aubergine dishes it would make a good intro. I'd probably use lamb shoulder for this.

                                                              Flash-roasted (i.e. at very high heat: 230C/450F for a very brief time) rack of lamb coated in olive oil and then rolled in rosemary and garlic is also very nice.

                                                              Generally speaking I think that you want to minimise the masking of flavours for people who are trying things for the first time, to give them a sense for what it's like in its "native" state. Complicated stews, etc with layering of spices are lovely once you've got the basic flavour "in your head" but for a "first-timer" they would not so much be being introduced to lamb for the first time as to a particular dish made with lamb, and it would be the dish, not the lamb per se, that they'll remember.

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: AlexRast

                                                                I'd had lamb a few times and didn't like it until I had it in a Greek restaurant. Now I like lamb in general, but it was lamb grilled with lemon that won me over.

                                                                1. re: AlexRast

                                                                  Your Persian meal would be an excellent introduction to Middle Eastern food. I myself would be all over that, except for the eggplant. I just don't do eggplant in any form.

                                                                  The rest of your post is sound, well-structured and I'm totally in agreement. The last thing I want to do is make a wonderful lamb dish that lamb lovers would fall all over, have them not like it and decide they don't like lamb, and then never eat it again.

                                                                  1. re: mcsheridan

                                                                    I'm probably not a good judge because I fell in love with lamb at 7 years old..it was a leg and the adults were stunned that I liked it. I graduated immediately to mutton, which I adore. So I don't know what it is like to NOT enjoy it. But I think the Persian approach is probably good. I was thinking of using the Russian style which is to marinate the lamb in pomegranate (preferably unsweetened) with garlic and whatever else you wish, sometimes mint. The marinade is reduced after you grill the kebobs. I have also marinated a leg in pomegranate. The Russian/Georgian versions I've had were often mutton so it was allowed to marinate overnight. But with younger lamb you don't need but a few hours.

                                                                    I agree that the trick will be to give them an idea of what the full-bore flavor is like while toning it down a bit.

                                                                    I think I'll go out and buy a leg right now....

                                                                2. Looks like the majority thinks kebabs are the way to go. Bon appetit!

                                                                  1. >>best way . . .

                                                                    on an fork.
                                                                    not overcooked.

                                                                    it's a simple dish like liverwurst. either one likes it or one does not like it.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: PSRaT

                                                                      I can see I don't have to convince *you* about lamb! :)

                                                                    2. Burgers.
                                                                      Familiar and not intimidating, they could easily imagine making again themselves. If they are already fans of tzatziki and mediterranean flavors that would be ideal but you may want to control the variables if those are also unfamiliar and go with a more classic sauteed onions kind of topping.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: Ttrockwood

                                                                        Hmmm. With lamb burgers, caramelized onions and either Muenster or Jarlsberg cheese might work very well for me. But again, I don't want to disguise the lamb too much for my friends, so maybe just sautéed onions on the side would be a better way to go. No cheese.

                                                                        1. re: honkman

                                                                          That preparation is on my "got to make" list. Haven't done that yet.

                                                                        2. I'd suggest going either with your own personal favourite if you have one that's miles ahead of the rest OR going with something that's closest to what's familiar to them.

                                                                          We eat a lot of lamb. Neither the husband or I can eat much beef - we both react to it (we have a number of food allergies/sensitivities.) So I use lamb instead of beef.

                                                                          My all-time favourite lamb is tenderloin. I mix together salt (1 teaspoon), pepper (2 teaspoons), and chilli powder (1 tablespoon), then season the lamb (1 kg, which I've cut into 1.5" cubes) with it, mixing thoroughly. In a hot pan, add ghee (about a tablespoon or two) and onions (one medium, sliced) and cook until the onions are soft. Then add garlic (1-2 teaspoons minced) and the lamb. Fry the lamb until just done which ends up being around five minutes, give or take (I'm terrible with time estimates, but it's in this neighborhood). I like it still bloody on the inside but brown on the outside. It's our favourite way to eat lamb. Actually, it's our favourite form of meat period.

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: LMAshton

                                                                            You're making me lamb hungry! And it's only breakfast time, dammit!

                                                                            In any case, I have never seen a lamb tenderloin in any of my markets, ever. Perhaps one day when I have a little bit more money I can find a custom butcher and get one.

                                                                            To your point, though this is definitely good advice: "I'd suggest...going with something that's closest to what's familiar to them." Thank you.

                                                                            1. re: mcsheridan

                                                                              It's too bad you haven't seen lamb tenderloin. It's beautiful stuff. I hope you can find some when it fits in your budget.

                                                                              Good luck with your friends. :)

                                                                          2. I would go with a French/Provencal style lamb stew. It mutes the stronger flavour of lamb a bit with the herbs, aromatics, and citrus , thus easing the uninitiated into our love for lamb - no dirty jokes intended.... I have some tweaks on a Tony Bourdain recipe that I've made many times with success (as judged by my extended family) if anyone's interested.

                                                                            1. what about going the ground lamb route? I know that lamb burgers or lamb meatballs in a pita or something might offend lamb purists, but it may be an easy way of introducing lamb newbies to the glory that is baby sheep.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: ahuva

                                                                                Ground lamb is definitely not "off the table". In fact, it may turn out to be the only lamb available in the markets I'll be shopping in.

                                                                              2. It'll likely be warm enough to grill. I make grilled marinated lamb kebabs with Turkish flavors that have converted three people who said they didn't like lamb.

                                                                                1. A different take on the original question: the psychological
                                                                                  approach. You are more likely to avoid disappointment if
                                                                                  you don't make your friends feel pressured to 'like' this new food. Making a big deal out of a presentation, like say, a garlic infused luscious leg of lamb as an impressive main could
                                                                                  put your friends in the awkward position of not wanting to disappoint you.

                                                                                  Better psychologically might be simple lamb patties, perhaps
                                                                                  accompanied with a similar main, tasty hamburgers. The appearance of less effort, less expense and even a choice might
                                                                                  make the whole experience more fun, less pressured, and more likely to be a 'wow' experience for your friends.

                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: Bashful3

                                                                                      Good point. While the husband in particular is extremely outspoken, the wife is more conciliatory and might want to make me happy. And that's not the point. I'm not looking to impress, nor will I be crushed if they come away saying "meh" or "ugh".

                                                                                      I'm just looking to have them share something I really like and open them to a new experience. So, to your point, overdoing it is definitely not called for here. Simple is best.

                                                                                      1. re: Bashful3

                                                                                        Good idea, Bashful - whether burgers or kebabs or whatever, make the same thing from both beef and lamb, so they can sample the lamb and have beef as a fallback. Hopefully they'll have some of each, and you can easily incorporate leftovers into tacos, stew, or stir-fries.

                                                                                        1. re: greygarious

                                                                                          Thanks, grey. I was thinking about fallback positions, but didn't even want to begin to bring that up in this thread. Beef side-by-side with lamb may be the way to go.

                                                                                          1. re: mcsheridan

                                                                                            If they are good sports, you could even serve both types "blind" (to them), and ask if they liked one better than the other.

                                                                                      2. As the OP will know, lamb can vary from the extremely mild flavoured to really full flavoured, depending on breed, method of raising, age at slaughter, hanging period, etc. Whilst lamb lovers will usually want their lamb to taste really lamby, it may be best to look out for some young mild lamb to give to these newcomers - that'll do most to mitigate the possibility of them not liking it in what I find to be an odd American description that it's "gamey" - unless, of course, you know that they like game. Of course, you'll know that lamb is lamby and game is gamey.

                                                                                        We probably eat more lamb than any other meat and it's so common where I am that I doubt I know anyone who has never tasted it before. Makes it difficult to know exactly what to suggest cooking except that it be a good idea to cook it in a style that might be familiar to them. So, a stew or casserole, assuming they are used to eating similar versions with other meats, where you can tweak the herbs and spices so it's not too weird for them. Burger would be another good option.

                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: Harters

                                                                                          Thanks for weighing in, Harters. I was hoping you'd show up, knowing how often you eat lamb. You're right about familiarity being an issue. I know they both have eaten deer in the past (the husband comes from a family of hunters and they used to, or perhaps still do, share a deer camp; after the hunt, they get together and make deer sausage.)

                                                                                          So perhaps lamb won't be too much of a stretch, although, as you rightly point out gamy and lamby are not the same.

                                                                                          1. re: mcsheridan

                                                                                            Oh, you could certainly get away with a very similar prep with a lamb loin as a venison loin. Similar sauces, etc.

                                                                                            1. re: mcsheridan

                                                                                              actually, there's your in -- if they like venison that was raised picking the edges of Midwest corn fields, they'll like lamb.

                                                                                              The flavors are pretty close, although I hadn't thought about it until you said that.

                                                                                              If they'll eat mule deer that ate mostly pine shoots, then lamb is a slam dunk -- far, far milder than a pine-fed muley.

                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                Actually the deer camp I think was somewhere in northwestern Pennsylvania or some part of SE Ohio, so I don't know if the edibles remain the same. Whether or not they were mule dear? I haven't a clue. These friends didn't grow up in Illinois.

                                                                                                1. re: mcsheridan

                                                                                                  mule deer live in PA and OH, if I'm not mistaken. They have a more-pronounced flavor than whitetail (note I didn't say gamey...!) --

                                                                                                  Same principles apply, though...if they like venison, they should like lamb, too.

                                                                                          2. Here's a recent Bone-In Leg of Lamb with pictures.....where i Wet-Aged 30 days and high.y recommend it.

                                                                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8249...

                                                                                            Another more recent experiment slow roasting one and roasting another Greek Style at a higher temperature.

                                                                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8894...

                                                                                            I would suggest you read <fldhkybnva'S> thread where she achieved excellent results and similar to what you are attempting to achieve and conquer.

                                                                                            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/889450#

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: fourunder

                                                                                              Thank you very much, fourunder. As always, your detailed reports are greatly appreciated. You've given me a lot of reading to do. In fact, this is why I started the thread a month ahead. I hate to leave things until the last minute.

                                                                                            2. Thoroughly-Americanized gyros. It worked on my husband, Mr. Bland Midwest Kid-Food Guy; he even asks for them now!

                                                                                              I can't post the link I want to -- it's fiendishly difficult on this not-so-smart phone -- but you don't need a rotisserie to make the meat.
                                                                                              1) Google "Greek-American Gyros" and the meat workaround will be one of your first half-dozen results. You know you've found it when you see lamb + bacon in the blender.
                                                                                              2) Do NOT make the tzatsiki in the meat recipe above; it's seriously lame. Find a recipe YOU like better...then double the cucumber (WELL dried!), halve the garlic, halve the lemon juice, omit the dill (if any), double or even triple the fresh mint.
                                                                                              3) Do not be tempted even for a moment by pre-fab "pocket pita." DOESN'T WORK!!! If you're disinclined to make your own pocketless/hand-pulled, AND there is no fresh-daily, public-access Middle Eastern bakery in your town, go to your neighborhood Indian restaurant for fresh, takeout naan. 4) MAKE IT FUN by making it for a small, informal social! Prepare your buffet table with two or three gyros already-made snuggling right up into a whimsical centerpiece -- complete with "cone-style" tinfoil wrap -- and array around it all the other components (traditional and/or nouveau). One of my favorite spreads for 5-10 is these gyros, thoroughly "Greek" (hah! ;)) salad, dolmades, and my beloved moussaka. Top it all off with fruit, store-bought baklava, espresso, and optional ouzo for YUMMMM!

                                                                                              Greek cuisine is not NEARLY as foreign as most folks think, and thus is a great choice to "break in" an insular American to lamb.

                                                                                              1. I make lamb meatballs, and often use about 1/3 ground pork to 2/3 ground lamb, mix with bread crumbs, eggs, garam masala, oregano, garlic, onions, salt, and pepper. They come out lighter than straight-up lamb, and might cut down enough on that "lamb taste" to ease your virgin friends into the fold.

                                                                                                I like to serve them with orzo, tsatsiki, and a chopped salad.

                                                                                                1. I cooked a local spring lamb a number of years ago for my son's baptism party. I had marinated the lamb in an anchovy and oil blend. Some people at the party did not realize that it was lamb and they enjoyed it. I love that they came away with a different opinion of a food that some claimed to hate.

                                                                                                  1. simple, keep it simple, whatever cut you choose grilled with just garlic, rosemary and olive oil.

                                                                                                    in this part of the midwest (I hate to say it but I have to) strong flavors throw some people. so keep it simple. there's a reason for that other thread looking for a source (Lemons was right)

                                                                                                    1. My thanks to everyone who chimed in on this thread. Sadly, I won't be making the trip after all. But I do appreciate all your help. The next time I see these friends they'll be in another state but at an as yet undetermined time in the future. I'll have this thread bookmarked to refer to when the time comes.

                                                                                                      1. One of the most fascinating aspects of being involved in an international food board is the total variety of products, recipes and tastes you come across.
                                                                                                        Here in Australia, we have a lamb variety called Saltbush Lamb. The lamb is fed on a shrub that soaks up saline (which is a common water problem down here).
                                                                                                        The lamb purveyors claim it is "seasoned from the inside out" and they are correct. It is wonderful.
                                                                                                        I'm not sure if any of our export lamb fed in this way makes it into the US, but worth a look.

                                                                                                        7 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: cronker

                                                                                                          All of the lamb we eat is from New Zealand or Australia. This is the first I've heard of saltbush lamb. I've heard of the saltbush plant from Masterchef Australia (the only cooking show I watch), but not saltbush lamb. How interesting!

                                                                                                          1. re: LMAshton

                                                                                                            It's a wonderful product! Tasty as lamb, but with a lovely saltiness that you couldn't get from just seasoning.
                                                                                                            It's enviro friendly too - the saltbush sucks up the salt from the water, and then the lambs eat this stuff.

                                                                                                            1. re: cronker

                                                                                                              Oh, I believe you. I hope I come across it some day. I'd love to give it a try. :)

                                                                                                              1. re: cronker

                                                                                                                sounds like pre-salé lamb from Normandy in France -- the lambs are graze on the salt marshes, so the grasses on the marsh add their saltiness to the meat.

                                                                                                                Yes, it's absolutely *lovely*

                                                                                                            2. re: cronker

                                                                                                              Similar in the UK, cronker, where we call it Saltmarsh lamb.

                                                                                                              They live on the coast on shrubland which occasionally gets washed by the sea but the vegetation is generally slightly saline. It's a specialist product not generally available in supermarkets or butchers - you usually need to buy direct from the farm, such as this place in the next county - http://www.saltmarsh-lamb.co.uk/

                                                                                                              1. re: cronker

                                                                                                                I don't believe I've ever seen or heard of saltbush lamb being sold in this country. I'll keep my eyes open, however.

                                                                                                                1. re: cronker

                                                                                                                  Yes, that kind of lamb exists in Germany as well. Tasty.

                                                                                                                2. Lamb meatball appetizer is a good idea. People can try it, and if they don't like it it's not that you've wasted too much time or money
                                                                                                                  http://www.chow.com/recipes/13432-lam...

                                                                                                                  Although My husband did a whole leg of lamb and then we had people come over that had never really had it and it was a succuss. We made gyros and other types of lamb dishes with it and had them try the meat on its own as well.

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. I'd go with lamb kebabs, grilled alone or alongside peppers, onions and tomatoes (each on its own skewers). Serve with pita and tzatziki and slices of fresh tomato.

                                                                                                                    Lamb chops were almost my favorite restaurant food as a child (edged out by scallops). But I think all the accompaniments to kebabs do more to ease in those new to lamb.