Aside from the occasional lamb chop, how frequently are you eating lamb?
Aside from the occasional lamb chop, how frequently are you eating lamb? Chances are, not terribly often. While lamb was big in the 1940s and 1950s, it's taken a nosedive thanks to the rise of other animal proteins. Currently, the average American consumes 85 pounds of beef annually; in contrast, Americans eat less than a pound of lamb each year.
Part of this decline, I suspect, is because many home chefs don't feel comfortable working with the meat; at its best, lamb is sweet and tender, with a distinctly exotic flavor, but it can also be ruined when the animal is old and gamey. But working with lamb is easy: all it takes is a simple understanding of seasonality, visual cues, and cuts. Master this, and you're virtually guaranteed to sit down to a succulent meal.
First Things First: What Is Lamb?
Technically, lamb refers to the meat of a sheep that is less than a year old. If you spot the term "hogget," that's the same animal at 1 to 2 years of age; anything older than this, and it's mutton. Unless you're a fan of a much stronger flavor, choose lamb, as sheep develop a gamier flavor as they age.
More — including the best season to buy lamb, what to look for, and popular cuts — when you read on.