About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006
A Cautionary Tale
I frequent two butchers. No, it's not that I can't make up my mind, rather they just do different things and what they do well at, is really fantastic. For instance Ormond Meat and Smallgoods does brilliant kassler - a cold smoked pork chop that cooks to juicy perfection, but if I'm hankering for a steak then there is no other than Gruner Butcher & Deli for a well aged prime cut.

About two weeks ago, I was at Ormond Meat and Smallgoods and just as I finished my shop, Barry showed me a leg of new season lamb and raved about how good was the carcass from which it had been retrieved. Now if he had shown me the leg at the start I would have bought it, but for now I had enough meat, so I made a mental note about new season lamb.

My son A, who has just had his birthday, requested a leg of lamb for his birthday dinner last weekend. We were wandering around Queen Victoria Market in the meat section when we spotted legs of new season lamb. "Great" I thought, "We'll have one of those," and immediately purchased a leg. It's not hard to tell the difference between new season lamb and regular lamb that is available all year. New season meat is a creamy pink and the cuts are always smaller, regular lamb is a dark red and larger.

Now I'm sure that all of us know that new season anything can be a risky proposition, especially with fruit. The first peach of the season is invariably hard and sour, but here we are talking about meat. How could a new season lamb be tough? It hasn't had the time to gambol across green fields and would hardly be weaned from its mothers milk. Well I don't know, but the leg which was roasted to a rosy pink, was the toughest leg of lamb we had had for many a year. I rang Barry to ask his opinion, but he was unable to say, other than, he told me, a lot of butchers don't like to carry the first new season lambs for the reason that they can be tough, and will wait a month before selling them. I pointed out to him that he had raved to me about new season lamb the week before and he told me that he could tell from the way the carcass broke up that it was a superior animal.

My best guess and it is only a guess, is that lamb like any other meat benefits from being aged before sale. That perhaps all lamb is tough until it is hung properly and that some butchers in their haste to be the first with new season lamb, race it into their refridgerated cabinets before it is ready. I hope I'm right, because I left my number with Barry for when he gets another great carcass, though he did say they weren't handling any at the moment.

For when you get great new season lamb, it is a sublime experience.
  posted at 8:23 am

At 12:13 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are a lot further along into meat than I am. A full butcher is not to be found in a regular grocery here anymore. Speciality stores do have them. I should get to be on regular terms with one at Whole Foods.

At 8:04 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi tanna, it's funny, my wife is more into meat than I am; I don't mind a good vegetarian option from time to time. We were just discussing last night how much protein one needs and which source is the best.


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