Spring is a good time to consider another red meat: lamb. • It can be gamey, which might explain why it's not a protein staple in this country the way it is in others. But it is a versatile option, available in the grocery store in a variety of cuts, and it's a way to mix up your go-to dinner meats.
Certain cuts are less gamey than others. If you're a lamb first-timer, try ground lamb, which can be mixed with other ground meats and turned into burgers or meatballs. Or rack of lamb, one of the most popular cuts, and one that can be turned into a classic spring dish that is quite easy to make.
If you're up for a little game, try roasting an entire leg. A couple of things to know: A leg of lamb usually weighs 6 to 10 pounds. There is a range of meats on the leg itself, tender and laced with fat to more lean and firm, and it often comes with the sirloin attached. Leftover lamb leg's intense flavor can be mellowed in things like stew or the accompanying stir-fry recipe.
Or branch out to the other cuts of the other red meat. Try the shoulder, a marbled cut best purchased boneless that is perfect for roasting. Smaller chunks of shoulder are often sold as stew meat, which might be the easiest of all the cuts to work with. Adding these smaller portions to a large pot with other ingredients is also a good way to hide any unwanted gaminess.
There are also chops, including the tender and lean rib chops; the even leaner loin chops, which look like small T-bone steaks and contain the loin and the tenderloin; and the sirloin chop, a thicker, inexpensive cut from the fat that is good for grilling or broiling.
Nutrition-wise, lamb can be a smarter choice than something like steak. It has loads of protein, so even a small portion can fill you up, and it is lower in saturated fats than other meats. Lamb can also be expensive — the 7-pound leg featured on our cover cost about $38, so roughly $5 a pound.
Here are five recipe ideas for turning these different cuts into a meal.
Contact Michelle Stark at [email protected] or (727) 893-8829. Follow @mstark17.