Two Guidelines for Grilling Grass-Fed Lamb
This article was sponsored and written by Specialty Meats & Gourmet and Shepherd Song Farm. Stop by Specialty Meats & Gourmet to receive a 10% discount on lamb loin chops through July 8.
Are you grilling tonight for family or friends? Need some new ideas? Grass-fed lamb is easy to grill successfully if these two guidelines are followed. First, in general, grass-fed meat requires less grilling time, at least partly due to low fat levels. Overcooking is common and will significantly diminish flavor and texture. Rare to medium rare is optimal. Allowing grilled cuts to rest for 5-8 minutes before serving allows the juice to redistribute and adds to the flavor. Lamb is naturally tender and delicious straight from the grill with just some salt, pepper, and olive oil, as illustrated in the pictures. While only simple seasonings are needed, lamb meat has an affinity for many spices and herbs, resulting in a variety of traditional and unique flavors, as in this recipe for grilled, marinated loin chops.
The second grilling guideline for success is to know the source of your meat. All lamb is not the same! Commodity lamb has been increasing in size, according to reported USDA records, to 150 pounds and heavier. This is large for most breeds of adult sheep and probably not what a customer envisions when choosing lamb for their menu. For a lamb to reach this weight within the 1-year period that distinguishes lamb meat from mutton, it must be on a feeding program high in carbohydrates (grains and processing byproducts) and low in fiber (grass).
The meat produced from these large and mature lambs, in contrast to specialty meat purveyors such as Shepherd Song Farm, is unlikely to be improved by grilling due to connective tissue maturation and heavier fat layers. Better options include marinating the meat overnight and braising it or other slow, high-moisture methods. By knowing the source of your meat you can confirm that it meets your cooking expectations for tenderness and flavor and is raised according to specific protocols (e.g., grass fed, antibiotic free, no byproducts in feed) and at a growth rate that encourages muscle development with less fat.
Specialty Meats & Gourmet, a family owned and operated meat and cheese company located in Hudson, WI, proudly sells Shepherd Song Farm lamb meat. With over 22 years in the meat industry, they are known for assisting families and restaurants with their menu planning and have an expansive selection of lamb, beef, pork, and game meats, primarily sourced from local Minnesota and Wisconsin farmers. The professional staff is continually discovering delicious meat and cheese choices for their customers while also providing cooking inspiration, instruction, and monthly classes. The cooking classes revolve around local farmer-produced products. In the past few months they have conducted classes on “How to French an 8-Rib Lamb Rack,” “Grilling and Tasting Game Burgers and Brats,” and “How to Break Down a Whole Chicken.” An upcoming class is “All About Game Meat Steaks.” Email or call Linda for more information: 800.310.2360 or 715.386.6628.
Featured in this article is Shepherd Song Farm’s 100% grass-fed lamb raised near Menomonie, WI. Shepherd Song sells USDA grass-fed lamb and goat meat nationally through an online store and locally to restaurants and families. “We believe grass-fed and pasture-raised protocols are absolutely, without a doubt, better for the animals, better for the environment, and better for your health — which is better for all of us!”