There are few things more satisfying than the robust, earthy flavor of lamb chops. However, this succulent meat can veer on the side of being a little too gamey for many people's palates, especially when compared to beef or pork. Your cooking technique will have a big impact on the way the lamb tastes, and being careful not to go above medium doneness is considered ideal when it comes to achieving the optimum flavor while also keeping gaminess in check.
Home chefs must remember that doneness is a matter of safety as well as taste, as the USDA recommends cooking raw lamb to a temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit to reduce the chance of foodborne illness. This temperature is generally considered medium-well when it comes to lamb, but it's usually best to err on the side of caution. Consuming underdone meat always carries some level of risk, which is why you should check internal temperatures with a meat thermometer after cooking. And keep in mind that it's just a fact of life that some meat tastes earthier than others.
Why Does Lamb Taste Gamey?
While there are numerous reasons for gamey flavors in meat, an animal's diet plays a significant role. With lamb, its earthy, natural flavor is influenced by the grass the animal eats. Compare this to cows, which subsist on grains for most of their lives, and it's easy to see why lamb tastes so much different. Also, some parts of the lamb will taste gamier than others.
Most of the potent flavor compounds are found in the fat of the animal, and in lamb, much of the gaminess results from branched-chain fatty acids. As sheep dine on grass, bacteria in their stomachs generate these fatty acids, which are a lot stronger in flavor and aroma than other forms of fat. Accordingly, grain-raised lamb will typically have a subtler taste than lamb reared on grass. What you do with the fat on lamb chops can also influence how earthy they taste, as can other cooking techniques.
What Are Some Other Ways To Temper The Gaminess Of Lamb?
Along with employing a careful cooking technique when it comes to doneness, trimming the fat from your chops also eliminates some of the gaminess of the meat. Since concentrated flavors are most prevalent in the animal's fat, reducing the amount of fat and gristle will temper the taste of the meat. Also, removing the fat from lamb before cooking will prevent your kitchen from taking on pungent odors.
How you season and dress your chops also plays a role in the flavor of the finished dish. In this case, using powerful ingredients, such as garlic, will help to play down any wild flavors remaining in the meat. You can infuse lamb with intense flavors by marinating the meat in something like soy sauce with additional seasonings. Adding brightness via lemon juice or heat via black pepper can also elevate the flavor of the meat while simultaneously reducing gaminess for an amazing meal. With these tips, your lamb chops will be the star of the dinner table.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.