National Roast Leg of Lamb Day is observed each year on May 7. The leg of lamb is a mild and tender cut of meat that, when roasted, is a unique and tasty dish to many. A typical preparation involves covering the leg of lamb with butter, rosemary sprigs pushed inside incisions cut in the leg, and rosemary leaves sprinkled on top. The lamb is then roasted for two hours at 360 degrees and usually served with carrots, roasted potatoes, green vegetables and gravy.
The origin of the domesticated sheep goes back to 11,000 BC in Mesopotamia, and share the distinction of being one of the first animals domesticated by mankind. These sheep were known as mouflon, and weren’t quite the woolly sheep we know today. Then they were raised for their meat, milk, and skin for parchment and vellum. In fact, the wool that we so often think of sheep for today wasn’t an important part of their use until 6000 BC in Iran.
- Lamb, mutton, and hogget (UK, New Zealand and Australia) are the meat of domestic sheep. The meat of a sheep in its first year is lamb; that of a juvenile sheep older than 1 year is hogget; and the meat of an adult sheep is mutton.
- On average, a three ounce serving of lamb has only 175 calories and meets the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) definition for lean. According to FDA guidelines, lean meat has less than 10 grams of fat, less than 4.5 grams of saturated fat, and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol per 100 grams or 3.5 ounces.
- This meat generally is more tender than that from older sheep and appears more often on tables in some Western countries
- Lamb should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer immediately after purchasing. Refrigerate fresh lamb at 40 degrees or below.
- The oldest organized industry is raising sheep.
- Lamb producers are scattered all across America, but the vast majority of flocks inhabit the Western Rangelands.
- American sheep production peaked during the 1940s and 1950s at more than 55 million sheep.
- The top five biggest sheep producing states are Texas, California, Colorado, Wyoming, and South Dakota.
- American sheep produce milk, wool, and mutton or lamb meat.
- There’s no “typical” lamb flock: farm flocks can start at 50, but large operations go all the way up to 10,000.
- Sheep are exclusively herbivores; they eat a range of grasses, legumes, and forbs.
- A rack roast typically has 8 rib bones in it.
- An American lamb rack weighs approximately 1-1/2 to 2 pounds.
- The average American eats less than a pound of lamb a year! That’s in comparison to an average of 85 pounds of beef, annually, per person.