What Does Lamb Taste Like? How to Enhance Its Flavor and Texture?
Lamb is not as popular a dish as chicken but it is flavorful and intense nevertheless. So if you’d like to eat more of lamb, knowing what does lamb taste like is a good way to start. Because knowing this, you can pair it well with other ingredients to serve for family dinner or a dinner party!
In this article, I’m going to walk you through the key flavor notes of lamb and why does lamb tastes the way it does. Did you know that you can play around with the flavor of lamb depending on the right cuts and how you cook it?
So keeping all these important considerations in mind, let’s understand the right flavor and texture of lamb for delicious home cooking.
What Does Lamb Taste Like?
Lamb is tender meat. Then why is it that some people dislike it for its chewy texture? That’s because different cuts of lamb have different flavors and textures.
So for example, if you’re craving something sweet and lean, rib chops, loin chops, or a rack of lamb should be your go-to. The shoulder, leg, or shank tastes denser because of their high-fat content.
Less fat means a leaner, easier to cook, and sweeter flavor profile. This also means a lighter palette and not as chewy as the leg of lamb, for example.
This begs the next question…
How to Buy Lamb Based On How It Tastes?
The most popular part of lamb that you’ll find in meat markets is the leg. You can buy the leg in a variety of cuts too. Such as bone-in, boneless, and butterflied. You can keep or remove the bone in a bone-in cut of the leg. Because it adds weight to the cut and is generally less expensive too.
Between bone-in, boneless, and butterflied, boneless is the most expensive cut of the leg of lamb. It also requires more even cooking by wrapping up the meat to make the heat distribution balanced.
There is a risk of cooking the boneless meat and not getting a balanced, juicy texture. The way you normally would from a bone-in or butterflied cut. Seasoning the latter two is also easier since they’re not tied the way boneless cuts are.
Speaking of seasoning, even though lamb is naturally tender and doesn’t require long marinating, you can season with salt and pepper for 30 minutes to 3 hours before cooking. Throw in a few chopped garlic, some fresh herb, and olive oil too. It will make the meat more aromatic while cooking, drawing out its naturally strong and flavorful notes.
How Long Does Lamb Take to Cook?
It takes around 20 to 30 minutes to cook the leg of lamb. In an oven, at around 375-degrees, a pound of boneless lamb cooks in half an hour. Subtract a few minutes for other cuts like bone-in.
So a good enough serving of lamb shouldn’t take longer than 2-1/2-hours to 3 hours to cook to the perfect medium-rare.
A good way to determine the “doneness” of lamb is by a thermometer. Checking the texture and flavor of lamb by a thermometer guarantees consistent and effective results.
So that would mean a medium-well leg of lamb comes up to 140 to 155-degrees. This is the average from a warm but slightly pink center to a hot and slightly pink center.
For a lamb well done, the temperature sits at around 155 to 165-degrees. And anything between 140-degrees, 120-130-degrees to be more specific, is considered rare or medium-rare.
How to Boost the Flavor & Texture Of Lamb?
Lamb pairs perfectly well with a host of ingredients. There are some that enhance the flavor of the meat in a unique manner. I’m sure you’ve guessed by now what those ingredients are. They are little but they definitely pack a punch.
Starting with herbs such as rosemary, thyme, mint, oregano, among a few others. They work really well, dried or fresh, to draw out the flavor of the meat.
Then you have the fresh ingredients such as garlic, fennel, onion, and lemon juice. You should definitely try out a few recipes using these ingredients.
While these were the basic ingredients that most people have in their pantry. The ones that are slightly less conventional are harissa, all-spice powder, smoked paprika powder, nutmeg or cardamom powder, hot chilies, jalapenos, and curry powder.
You can make homemade powder or paste to add to lamb out of these ingredients. For example, a hot chili and jalapeno paste with olive oil and garlic works perfectly to spice up meat. Or you can also pan-fry these ingredients with a bone-in cut of lamb with butter, lemon juice, and olive oil.
Trying out different methods of cooking lamb is a great way to play around with different ingredients. This helps bring out the rich, sweet, and soft texture of tender lamb.
Some Tips Before You Go
The better you get at cooking meat, the faster you will be able to cook it without ruining its flavor. And for that, you will need to know a few things before going in.
What type of lamb are you buying? In my opinion, grass-feed lamb is softer, sweeter, and has a much stronger flavor than domestic lamb.
How are you planning to cook it? If you are planning on using a skillet or a grill, the breast, ribs, or loins of lamb are a perfect match. For slow cooking or slow roasting, the legs, rump, shank, or shoulder works!
Do you need high fat to boost flavor? Fat makes the meat stronger and more intense. So if you’re okay with that added flavor, leave the fat as is. Or else, for a beginner, trimming the excess fat will not only make your cooking experience easier, but it tastes leaner too.
This is all you need to know about cooking lamb at home and how it tastes like. Remember, seasoning meat makes all the difference. So don’t hold yourself back with rich herbs, salt, pepper, some paprika!
Add all these things generously into your meat during marinating and a little left during cooking, and you’ll bring out all the natural, sweet, and tender flavors of lamb in the right way.