In Asia, the UK and the general South Pacific, lamb serves as a staple to everyday cuisine, but is not something many Americans are well acquainted with. Strangely enough, there are quite a few Americans averse to other meat sources outside of the ubiquitous pork, chicken and beef-centric meals, but have absolutely no qualms with natural sausage casing, which we all know used to house the excrement of swine. Life is weird, huh?
In a culinary environment where the typical fare runs supreme, we Americans tend to overlook the other wealth of meats available to us, usually hidden away in a small corner of the dark recesses of the meat freezer at every grocery store. Meats that I gravitate toward with the same proclivity of morally bankrupt bovine toward internet porn. Meats from animals including ostrich and kangaroo. When I tell people this they look at me like I have a parasitic twin growing from my face. Which I do, but staring is still goddamn rude.
The vast majority of America’s lamb meat is imported from Australia where the sheep are rarely treated with growth hormones, are generally free-range and a great majority are raised humanely. Unfortunately, the export costs means it ends up being one of the most expensive kinds of meat you can find in the market, but not quite as expensive as kangaroo I’ve found. While the economy is on the upswing, many can’t blow their monetary load on a single cut of meat, so how else can they get that sweet taste of lamb meat on the cheap?
I’m not talking about the (inaccurately) euphemistically name “lamb fries” which are lamb testicles, deep-fried and served up like hush puppies. As a lover of food with an innately adventurous spirit, lamb fries sound like something I should try, but the jury is still out whether I have the fortitude to do so. My knees get weak when I think to chew on animal testicles, much less put them near my mouth. I once watched someone prepare this dish and spent the better half of the demonstration squirming in my seat uncomfortably, as if adjusting to protect my own from the horror before me.
The taste of lamb is incomparable to other meats and has a slightly indelicate flavor that may be at first off-putting to a sensitive palate, but if prepared correctly it’s incredible. Preparation is everything when it comes to lamb, and perhaps even more so than the meats we’re accustomed to. It’s a fatty, sweet meat that needs special care to preserve its juicy, tender state, otherwise you may end up with a mass of grey, sinewy and tasteless meat that would send ravenous wolves hurtling in the opposite direction, but not without first flipping you off because really, how dare you.
Preparation of the lamb nuggets are straight-forward and much harder to screw up, and paired with the tart mint mustard sauce it proves to be a popular appetizer when served at parties. But if you’re anything like me you’ll eat them alone on your couch while watching a documentary on street gangs and wondering whether to join the Bloods or the Crips, because serious decisions need to be made and it’s good to have friends in violent places.
If you’re still not sold on lamb nuggets then another great party gift to bring the house down is arson. Choose wisely.
Lamb Nuggets with Mint Mustard Sauce
[print_this]Recipe: Lamb Nuggets with Mint Mustard Sauce
Preparation time: 20 minute(s)
Cooking time: 5 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 4
- 1 lb ground lamb
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme
- 1 egg
- ½ cup bread crumbs
- Coarsely ground salt and fresh cracked
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- canola oil for frying
- 3 tbsp brown or Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp white wine
- 1 tbsp mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
- Fill a heavy bottomed saucepan 1/4 of the way with canola oil and heat over medium high. Allow to heat up while preparing the lamb.
- Gently mix the lamb, bread crumbs, egg, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper making sure to not overwork as the meat can then become very dense.
- Roll the meat into even-sized balls, cover with panko breadcrumbs and immediately place into hot oil. Cook nuggets in batches to ensure you don’t overcrowd.
- Cook between 4 and 5 minutes, or until nuggets are a dark brown, making sure to not overcook or burn them.
- Set aside on a plate lined with paper towels to drain.
- For the dipping sauce, place mustard, honey, white wine vinegar, white wine (if using), mayonnaise and mint leaves into a food processor and mix until well blended. Place into a small dipping bowl. This sauce can be prepared up to a day prior.
- Serve lamb nuggets hot with dipping sauce.