If you’re looking to explore different meats beyond beef and poultry, veal and lamb are excellent options to consider. While they may not be as commonly consumed as beef, their unique flavors and textures make them worth a try. In this article, we’ll delve into the differences between veal and lamb, exploring their taste, texture, buying tips, storage, cooking methods, and nutritional profiles.
What is Veal?
Veal is the meat obtained from young calves, usually from milk cows. Although some people may be hesitant to try veal due to ethical concerns, it is important to note that veal calves are typically raised humanely. They are fed a diet that includes whey, a byproduct of milk, and grains. In terms of appearance, veal has a lighter color compared to beef and resembles pork. The most common veal cuts include rib, sirloin, shoulder, loin, leg, breast, and foreshank.
What is Lamb?
Lamb comes from young sheep, specifically lambs, while mutton refers to meat obtained from older sheep. In the United States, lamb is preferred over mutton due to its milder and less gamey taste. Lamb meat has a pink or reddish hue and is often used in various cuts such as shanks, ribs, rack, neck, leg, sirloin, loin, breast, and flank.
Taste and Texture
Due to the muscles not being fully developed in young animals, both veal and lamb have a tender texture compared to beef. Veal has a mild beefy taste, but it can be rather bland on its own. To enhance the flavor, spices, marinades, and sauces are often used. On the other hand, lamb has a stronger flavor, with a slight sweetness that is delicious even without additional seasonings.
Buying and Storing
In the United States, veal is mostly produced by American farmers, while Australia is a common source for lamb. Australian lamb, which is often grass-fed, is said to have a slightly gamier taste compared to grain-fed American lamb. When buying lamb, look for cuts that are light red or dark pink, as darker red meat may indicate it’s closer to its sell-by date. Veal should be pink in color, with any fat appearing bright white. It’s best to avoid grey-tinged meat or packages with excessive juices underneath.
Both veal and lamb should be refrigerated and used before the sell-by date for optimal flavor. If you’re not planning to cook them immediately, wrap the original packaging in freezer wrap or place them in a freezer bag, removing as much air as possible to prevent freezer burn. Both meats can be stored in the freezer for 6-9 months. When defrosting, use within 3-5 days for veal and within 2 days for ground cuts.
Veal and lamb are versatile meats that can be prepared using various cooking methods including grilling, stewing, roasting, sautéing, and braising. Most veal cuts are best served medium-rare with an internal temperature of 145°F, while ground veal should be cooked to at least 160°F. When stewing or braising veal, an internal temperature of around 160°F is common. Classic veal dishes include Osso Buco, Piccata, Milanese, and various international cuisines such as Asian stir-fries, German Weiner Schnitzel, and Indian curries.
For lamb, the recommended internal temperature is also 145°F for medium-rare, but some individuals prefer it rarer. Due to its higher fat content, lamb is challenging to overcook, but it’s essential not to exceed an internal temperature of 170°F. Lamb is commonly used in dishes like chops, roasts, racks, burgers, Shepherd’s Pie, Moussaka, tagines, curries, and kabobs.
On average, lamb contains approximately 330 calories per 4-ounce serving, while veal has around 260 calories. Lamb has a higher fat content, ranging from 20 to 26 grams, compared to veal’s 12 to 13 grams. However, the fat in veal is less saturated, giving it a better “fat” profile. Both meats offer similar amounts of protein and B vitamins, but lamb provides higher levels of vitamin K and iron.
When it comes to veal and lamb, there’s a world of flavors and textures to explore. Whether you’re a culinary enthusiast or simply looking to expand your meat options, veal and lamb offer unique experiences that are worth savoring. So, why not embark on a flavorful adventure with these two delightful meats?