An Overview of Cooking Lamb
A large number of our Farm’s customers have asked us “Now that I’ve this great-looking piece of Lamb, how do I cook it?” Well, we’re shepherds not chefs, but we did pay attention to David Letterman’s famous segment and set out to provide our customers with the best recipes and tips we could find. We’ve certainly tried many ourselves.
This quick guide is to help one understand more about the different lamb cuts available and which cooking methods each is best suited to. We’ve adapted most of these basic methods from the respected chefs at JamieOliver.Com†. Please visit them and other wonderful culinary resources at your library, or on the internet, including our farm’s website for specific recipes and serving ideas.
A tender, flavorful and nutritious meat choice, lamb is extremely versatile, and can make a great everyday dinner, particularly for the conscientious eater. Sustainably and humanely raised, containing very little fat compared to other four-legged livestock, lamb is an essential part of the New Food eater’s recipe box. The living conditions of all farm animals have a direct effect on the meat’s quality. Therefore a farm that allows the flock to roam freely on pristine pasture, without stress or overcrowding as nature intended, will always be superior in taste. Lamb, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, is meat that can be prepared in a variety of ways to produce a wide range of superbly tasting meals.
Lamb leg cuts may be all or partially covered with a silvery/papery membrane, the “fell”, which may be removed or left on depending on the recipe. Our Farm sells USDA certified Lamb and Mutton, the difference is the age of the sheep at harvest. Mutton compares to beef in nutritive value while having a wonderful and richer flavor than lamb, beef, chicken or pork.
Rib Chop and Rack
Lamb chops are the premier cut of lamb and are incredibly delicious and tender. They’re from the ribs of the lamb, often cooked individually over a grill or barbecue. When left together and cooked as a whole, it’s called “rack of lamb.” Best served pink in the center, they are amazing roasted as a rack or served chop style.
Loin Chop and Saddle
Loin chops are like mini T-bone steaks cut from a lamb from between the ribs and back legs. Like rib chops, they’re great for grilling, braising, or barbecuing. They can be prepared in any number of ways and styles; Indian Tandoori or Curry, Moroccan Tagine flavored with Harissa, Middle Eastern with paprika and mint leaves. Loin chops kept together in one piece are known as a “Saddle” and makes a great traditional meal as either Lamb or Mutton. Don’t forget your home made mint sauce!
This cut is lean, tender and full of flavor. Leg of lamb is great roasted whole on the bone, or can be boned, stuffed and rolled, then braised. A “Split” Leg is either the top (meatier) or bottom half cut at the joint. Legs can be cut across the bone to make steaks; yielding a quick and delicious lamb dinner.
Lamb shank is the lower part of the front and back legs. There is a lot of collagen in the shank. Cooked slowly, it gives the meat a lovely soft, melting texture. A perfect cut for stews, braising, and Osso buco.
Neck and Riblets
Lamb neck can be cooked slowly on low heat, yet can also be treated like a steak and cooked over a hot grill. It goes well with a wide range of flavors, especially as stew or curry. Riblets are the end tips of the ribs, they look and cook much like small pork baby back ribs. Braised or grilled, they make an excellent appetizer. Riblets can be ordered with a pocket cut into them for stuffing.
Ground Lamb or Mutton is a delicious change from beef, and can replace it in any recipe. Our ground is so lean that you will want to add butter or ghee when pan frying. Ground Lamb is perfect for Tapas styled sliders and meatballs, while Mutton makes sumptuous Shepherd’s Pie, meat loaf, or your special burger.
Cooking a whole lamb is an event not to be missed. You can order whole lamb from us that can feed a party of ten up to as many as you wish. From Moroccan style Mechoui, Greek fire-pit, Mexican Oaxacan, to the traditional charcoal or wood fired spit, it’s a delicious meal no one will forget. Smaller lambs can be ordered that can be cooked in a regular oven.
The Green Shepherd’s cooking tips for Grass~fed Lamb
- Thanks to the low amount of lanolin in their wool, the meat from our Finnsheep-based flock have a uniquely light and “Non-Gamey” taste. Sample it first with just a little salt and pepper, then adjust your favorite recipes to suit.
- Pasture raised lamb needs less cooking time than store-bought lamb. Unlike most pasture raised beef or chicken, our lamb cooks very well under high or low heat; never worry about it getting tough on the grill, broiler, or hot oven.
- Lamb should be a medium pink in the middle, be very careful not to overcook!
- Keep in mind when cooking our lamb how lean it is. A roast will have less fat, allowing for the full flavor of the lamb to shine. When browning on stove top, you might want to add some oil, butter, or (our favorite) ghee.
- Our farm’s lamb will not need the fat trimmed off. Commodity lamb can be very fatty and need trimming before cooking.
- Use a light oil, such as vegetable or canola. Even virgin olive oil can overwhelm the light flavor of our lamb.
Note: Please contact your local shopkeeper, or the farm, for current availability of cuts and whole lamb. Ask us about lamb organs, dog-food, and our sheep products; pelts, furniture & apparel.
†Sections edited from “The Ultimate Guide To Lamb Cuts” Courtesy of: JamieOliver.Com March 24, 2016
Some of our retail cuts of lamb
Pictures of our retail cuts:
Rack of Lamb
Leg Split- Bone In
Shoulder Roast- Bone In