Lamb 101: Cuts and Ways to Cook Them

Lamb 101: Cuts and Ways to Cook Them

Make the most out of those delicious lamb cuts you bought from the local butcher or grocery store. Learn which cooking method is best suited for each cut.

Here are the different cuts of lamb and their recommended cooking methods.

Lamb Chop

A lamb chop, which is traditionally the priciest cut per pound, is the rib or the loin. The loin stretches across the lamb’s back.

This is a tender cut of meat and is most suitable for quick cooking methods to prevent it from drying out. A lamb chop with very little fat in the muscle can dry out fast when it is cooked for a long period of time.

The tender and flavourful rib portion of lamb is covered with a layer of fat, which then melts and bastes when cooked. When serving the rib, you can either slice it into small rib chops or plate it as a whole rack consisting of several ribs at a time.

As for the loin, you can either cut it into loin chops or excise the small tenderloin from the top loin chops. A loin roast consists of the entire bone-in loin section, while the saddle is a double loin roast complete with a backbone still clinging to the lamb meat and fat.

Best for: broiling, grilling, and pan-searing until the lamb chop is medium rare for optimal flavour.

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Leg of Lamb

The leg of lamb cut is usually sold either bone-in or boneless. The boneless leg is normally tied when the meat is roasted. This relatively large cut contains a muscle used frequently by the animal. Thus, it is best suited for cooking over low temperatures for long periods of time.

If you want to grill a boneless leg, butterfly-cut it first so it cooks evenly throughout. The butterflied leg of lamb spreads flat and thinly.

Best for: liquid-braising over several hours or roasting in low temperature.

Shoulder Chop or Steak

Lamb steaks are fairly thin cuts of muscle interspersed with fat, which adds flavour and helps keep the meat moist.

Best for: grilling and quick stovetop braising.

Ground Lamb

Fresh and frozen ground lamb can be used for any cooking method that applies to ground beef, including grilled burger.

Now that you know the cooking methods recommended for each lamb cut, learn how to pick quality meat from the local supermarket or butcher shop. Good quality lamb cuts are lean ones. They are firm to the touch, and the fat interspersed with the meat is creamy white.

Avoid ones with too much fat. The fat that looks crumbly or yellowish may mean old meat. Very young lamb has pale pink flesh, while an older animal’s flesh ranges from light to dark red in colour.

To properly store lamb cuts, quickly freeze them. Quick-freezing helps retain the meat’s succulence. Take note that the fatty portion of the lamb is always the first to turn rancid. Thus, it is best to buy lean lamb cuts if you intend to store them for a period of time.

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Peter Richardson is a retired butcher who still has a passion for preparing meats. He enjoys sharing his know-how on various food and cooking sites. To find lots more delicious lamb recipes, just go to this webpage.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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