Lamb is in! The cutting-edge chefs have a new protein to love, after saturating us with pork for the last few years (we are not complaining about pork, mind you). A lot of lamb is sourced from local farms, and it’s likely that
the trend [is] riding the wave of eating local. “People want to know where their food’s coming from,” he said. Conrad, who with his wife, Liz, runs Riverslea Farm near Epping, has noticed an increase in people buying lamb cuts for everyday meals, as opposed to previous years when he sold mainly whole animals to families looking to have a party.
In fact, the most progressive chefs have been experimenting with lamb cuts, and Tia Harrison, co-owner and butcher at Avedano’s Holly Park Market in San Francisco
has seen a lot of lamb charcuterie, grilled lamb neck and also noticed that “lamb bacon is a chef-y kind of trend.”
It’s only in the last year or two that I’ve become a convert to the virtues of lamb. It’s gamier than most meat Americans are used to and far less fatty, and cuts like leg of lamb contain a number of different textures, something Americans aren’t always acquainted with. Lamb is less homogenized than beef, pork, or chicken, and has a very distinctive flavor that can lend a very unique flavor to whatever you’re cooking, whether it’s a lamb-burger, leg, or some kind of slow-braise or roast. The lesser cuts (i.e. not leg or rack) can actually be rather inexpensive to boot. Still
Lamb has a long way to go before it becomes a staple in the United States. On average, Americans consume only 1 pound per person annually, and one-third have never even tried it, according to Wortman. Compare that to federal figures from 2008 showing Americans on average ate about 61 pounds of beef, 59 pounds of chicken and 46 pounds of pork per capita.
As Americans learn to cook and eat locally again, I would hope that lamb is incorporated into our national palates once more. Chefs are usually at the edge of this reappraisal of forgotten or ignored proteins and vegetables, so hopefully this is the beginning of a trend for lamb.