Since re-posting my lamb chili recipe, a lot of readers have been asking me where I get my lamb from. Well for Chicago readers, I get my lamb from Al Khayyam, the Lebanese market on Kedzie and Lawrence. I was able to get a lamb shoulder for $2.69 a lb! Of course, this includes the bones, but you can ask the butcher to grind the meat for you fresh and cut the bones up so you can use them to make soup.
Last year, I wrote a post pimping Al Khayyam, but to reiterate, I love this store! Its a great place to get exotic spices, delicious middle eastern yogurt, fresh baked pita (daily) for only $1, homemade baklava and of course, cheap lamb.
So what if you don’t live in Chicago or don’t want to go across town to this market? Here’s some tips to help you find good quality lamb in your area.
Tips for finding good quality lamb.
- Avoid prepacked ground lamb at grocery stores. They usually sell ground lamb at most general grocery stores. However, its usually frozen, not fresh, and not of the best quality. It works for a last minute resort, but try to find something better.
- Try to find a Middle Eastern ethnic market: ethnic markets of cultures which feature lamb as part of their regular diet is a great place to find cheap fresh lamb. If its part of the cultural diet, the market’s client base will demand good quality meat and know what they’re willing to pay, so you usually get the best quality for the least amount, and its usually very fresh because of a high demand. Middle eastern, Greek, South Eastern European and Northern African markets are a great place to check.
- Ask your butcher to ground fresh meat from the bone: Leg of lamb is pretty common in general markets. Ask to find out if they can grind the meat fresh from a leg cut and how much they charge. It may be expensive, but its always good to ask and find out. Freshly ground meat will always be better quality then meat which has been ground and then frozen for a while.
Feel free to email me with any food related questions, and it may even be featured in an upcoming post!