Local farmers provide a lean, yet hearty cut of meat compared to international varieties from Australia or New Zealand.
Lamb may not spend a ton of time in the culinary spotlight, but the debate between domestic and international lamb is quite prevalent among club chefs and food-focused members. American lamb has its own distinct flavor, fat content, marbling, and color, providing a range of opportunities to showcase domestic farmers across the country.
American Lamb Raising Process
While you’ll find smaller lamb farms peppered throughout the country, the majority are concentrated in the western and southwestern states such as Colorado, Texas, and California.
With abundant plains to graze on, American lamb is primarily grass-fed up until later in life. Just before harvest, some farmers will choose to “finish” the lamb with grain. The grass diet leads to American lamb’s dark red coloring while the finishing of grain aims to increase its size, marbling, and tenderness.
Lamb makes up a very small percentage of America’s meat production, especially compared to other countries, so the cuts typically sell at a higher price point. However, more diners and chefs throughout the world are choosing American lamb, and are even breeding Australian and American lambs in some cases for a balanced product.
Flavor Profiles of American Lamb
American lamb is generally understood to more closely resemble a traditional beef steak compared to Australian or New Zealand lamb. The finishing of grain and leaner final product lowers the animal’s fatty-acid content, cutting down on that familiar “gamey” flavor many associate with lamb.
Overall, many feel that this hearty flavor is easier on the American palette, but as the case with all meats, it all comes down to individual preference. Much like beef, high-quality cuts can be wet or dry-aged in a controlled environment, especially when sold to clubs, resorts, and restaurants seeking unique flavors and ultimate tenderness.
While lamb may not appear on all club menus, its unique flavor profile and local availability give club chefs endless opportunities to impress members with new recipes.