Lamb is best butchered before the age of one year - after that it
starts to taste "gamey" and sheep-meat (mutton) improperly prepared
is the reason many men who served in the army won't eat lamb.
I have learned that the best way to keep lamb tasting
sweet and mild is to cook it at a low heat. If roasting, keep the
oven below 325 degrees F (160C). Some old cookbooks advocated a
high heat, and that's a sure way to ruin the flavor. If grilling,
sear the outside of the meat quickly, then let it cook slowly to a
medium-rare condition. "Well-done" roast lamb is often tough and
Garlic is a natural accompaniment to lamb; when I was doing cooking
demonstration, I'd first saute a clove of mild elephant-garlic - the
smell of the garlic alone would draw people. Then saute the lamb
lightly until it's just a faint pink in the center, and serve.
Lamb stew is a favorite in many cultures; my favorite is a Navajo
receipe for mutton stew - sear cubes of lamb or mutton in hot oil and
transfer to another pot (to avoid the flavor of mutton fat cooked at
high heat.) Add water just to cover, onions, parched corn and mild
chilies - canned Anaheims work - and let simmer on low heat until the
lamb is tender. Most Anglos don't have access to parched corn, so I
just add some fresh or frozen corn the last ten minutes of cooking.
If you prefer a more "Irish" or "English" lamb stew, besides onions,
add celery and carrots, some light-flavored fresh or dried herbs and
tuck in some new potatoes the last half hour of cooking. Again, keep
the heat to a low simmer. I use garlic no matter what "nationality"
I'm cooking, as I think it is a natural accompaniment to lamb.