Know Your Lamb
Lamb is a tasty meat and an excellent source of protein, vitamins, and minerals. When it comes to choosing the perfect cut of lamb, more expensive doesn’t always mean better. Sometimes, the cuts with a higher amount of bone can be more flavourful and tender.
In this guide, you will learn all about the different cuts of lamb and which cooking method is best for each.
A lamb’s shoulder works hard, so the meat from this part of the animal is full of flavour. It takes a bit of time to become tender, which, along with it’s sweeter flavour, makes it a great choice for stewing or slow-roasting.
Recipes using lamb shoulder are guaranteed crowd-pleasers. To get the most flavour, cook the lamb shoulder on the bone so that the meat falls right off when pulled with a fork. Keep things simple by using a herb rub made of garlic, sea salt, black pepper, and olive oil. Cut the skin of the meat and apply the rub to all the nooks and crannies.
Cook the meat at a high temperature so the skin becomes nice and golden. Then cover the meat and drop the temperature to low and cook for 4 to 5 hours.
Lamb loin chops are mini steaks that come from the middle of the animal. They are the most tender part of the lamb, and they produce the most flavourful cuts. This prized cut of lamb is great for grilling or barbecuing. The loin doesn’t have a layer of fat for protection, so take care not to overcook the meat. For a luxurious dinner, try some lamb loin roasted with garlic, olive oil, and butter.
The most expensive cuts of lamb are lamb chops or cutlets. These cuts of lamb are quite delicious and tender. This meat comes from the ribs of the lamb and can be cooked individually or together. When a number of them are cooked together as a whole, it is called a rack of lamb. The chops (or cutlets) are the individual rib steaks taken from the rack.
The rack is light and delicate compared to some of the fattier cuts. Make sure to use a light dressing to avoid overpowering the flavours of the meat. Sear on each side until golden brown and then finish in the oven.
Chops are a quick cook cut that are best served pink and amazing when roasted.
Lamb rump is taken from the backside of the animal, where the top of the leg meets the loin. This cut of meat is lean, tender, and packed with flavour. It has a generous layer of fat to help keep the meat juicy.
Make sure not to overcook lamb rump because it will become tough if it is left to dry out. Try pan-frying the rump whole, then finish in the oven for a few minutes. Or, cut the rump into chops on the bone and add to the grill.
Lamb shank is a cheaper cut that is taken from the lower part of the back legs. There is a lot of collagen in the lamb shank, which gives the meat an amazingly soft, melting texture when cooked slowly.
This cut is perfect for slow-cooking and stews. Cook the shanks at a low temperature to achieve tender meat that falls off the bone. The lamb shank is a meaty cut that can handle a good amount of flavour, so you can be bold with your seasoning.
A lamb’s legs work hard, just like the shoulders, which means this meat has a good strong flavour. Leg of lamb can be roasted whole on the bone, or boned and put on the barbecue. The leg is a lean muscle, so make sure not to overcook the meat, or it could end up dry. Massage it all over with a herb oil and garlic, roast it in the oven, and finish it on the barbecue.
Lamb neck is a less expensive, often underrated cut because it takes a little longer to cook than some of the other more popular cuts. Lamb neck can be cooked whole, slowly over a low heat to ensure a tender meat. Or, you can treat it like a steak and cook it quickly over high heat until the center is pink. You can chop the neck into chunks and add to stews and curries as well. This cut works well with a variety of flavours and is excellent for kebabs too.
Lamb breast is another less expensive cut that is often underused because it has a high amount of fat and requires a bit of finesse to cook to perfection. Just treat it like a pork belly and you’re good to go. The layer of fat provides a variety of flavour and helps tenderize the meat as it cooks. For delicious rolled lamb breast, cook each side in a hot pan until brown, then slow roast at a low temperature.
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