This guide provides information about the different cuts of lamb available. It also helps with cooking methods for each cut.
Keep in mind that a lamb carcass is much smaller than a beef or hog carcass. The individual cuts are relatively small. The total amount of meat from a ½ lamb is not great. Consider it as the delicacy it is.
Lamb is a great source of protein, vitamins and minerals.
Choose leaner cuts on most occasions, reserving the fattier pieces for weekend treats.
This part of the animal works hard, so the meat from a lamb’s shoulder is full of flavor. It takes a while to become tender, but this means it’s a great choice for stewing and slow-roasting. To maximize the flavor, cook lamb shoulder on the bone so the meat simply falls apart when pulled with a fork. Recipes using lamb shoulder are fail-safe crowd pleasers. Do a slow cooked shoulder for a perfect Sunday. To keep things super simple, make an herb rub with some mint or rosemary, garlic, sea salt, black pepper and olive oil, slash the skin of the meat and massage the rub into all its nooks and crannies. Sit it on top of wedges of onion, add some liquid, cook on a high temperature to get the skin lovely and golden, then cover and turn down to low (around 160ºC) for 4 to 5 hours (depending on the weight of the shoulder)
Lamb chops or cutlets are the most expensive cuts of lamb, but are incredibly delicious and tender. They are taken from the ribs of the lamb and cooked individually, normally over a grill or a barbecue. When several are left together and cooked as a whole, they are called a rack of lamb. Best served pink, they are amazing.
These are mini T-bone steaks cut from the waist of the lamb. On one side of the chop is the lamb loin and on the other side is the fillet. Just like chops, they’re great for grilling or barbecuing – serve with a Middle Eastern vibe or marinate. Serve with harissa-spiked humous to embrace delicious Moroccan flavors.
The rump comes from the back of the lamb. This cut is lean, tender and full of flavor. Be careful not to overcook as it will become tough if left to dry out. It is delicious pan-fried whole, finished in the oven for a few minutes, then sliced to reveal its blushing pink center. Or, it can be cut into chops on the bone then grilled or pan-fried.
Like the shoulders, the legs of a lamb work hard, which means that this cut has a good, strong flavor. Leg of lamb is great roasted whole on the bone, or boned and barbecued. It’s a fairly lean muscle, so take care not to overcook it, or else it could end up quite dry. Rub it all over with an herb oil, some garlic and even a little mustard, if you like, roast in the oven, then finish off on the barbecue to get a great gnarly smoked flavor.
Lamb shank is a super-simple, cheaper cut that goes a long way. Taken from the lower part of the back legs, there is a lot of collagen in the shank, which, when cooked slowly, gives the meat a lovely soft, melting texture, making this another cut that’s perfect for stews and slow-cooking.
Lamb neck can be cooked slowly on a low heat, yet unlike the shoulder, it can also be treated like a steak and cooked quickly over a high heat until pink. It goes well with a whole load of flavors and is delicious served when cooked low and slow. It works well as a stew or curry and is a great cut of meat to make kebobs with, too.
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