The love-hate relationship many have with lamb comes from its strong flavor. The perception of a gamy flavor comes from lamb's association with older mutton, which has a stronger taste. This can be avoided by choosing the right meat, and in both lamb and mutton any gamy flavor can be mellowed effectively with a milk soak the night before cooking. This technique reduces the gaminess in wild meats, too.
Purchase young lamb, to start with a cut that has less gamy flavor. Look for red meat with a fine marbling for the freshest young lamb.
Trim off the papery film, called the fell, on the outside of the lamb, and cut off the visible fat beneath; the fat holds much of the gamy flavor.
Place the lamb in a baking pan and pour milk over it to completely cover the meat. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and refrigerate for eight hours, or overnight.
Remove the lamb from the milk, and rinse the meat. Discard the milk.
Return the lamb to the baking pan, cover the meat with a marinade of your choice, and cover the pan with fresh foil. Refrigerate the lamb for two to six hours as it marinates.
Discard the marinade and cook the meat to 155 F, using your preferred cooking method.
American-bred lamb has the mildest flavor, due to the farming practices used, according to cookbook author David Joachim.
- "The Complete Meat Cookbook: A Juicy and Authoritative Guide to Selecting, Seasoning, and Cooking Today's Beef, Pork, Lamb, and Veal"; Bruce Aidells, et al.; 2001
- "Marinades, Rubs, Brines, Cures and Glazes"; Jim Tarantino; 2006
- "The Science of Good Food: The Ultimate Reference on How Cooking Works"; David Joachim, et al.; 2005