"If you love beef and don't love lamb, then you've never had it cooked properly." Meathead
If you say you don't like lamb, you probably really mean you don't like the preparation of lamb you were served. If you have never savored the rich, tender, beefy (never gamey) flavor of a lamb loin chop or rack of lamb, served medium rare, no mint jelly allowed, you are missing what I consider to be the best nugget of red meat in the world. Period. Really. No cow poop.
Lamb is much smaller and leaner than pork and beef, so there are fewer cuts of interest to the backyard cook. As with beef, the best cuts are from the back of the animal.
Rack. This is a section of eight ribs with the loin meat attached, the same cut as bone-in prime rib of beef or pork crown roast. Only lamb loins are much narrower in diameter. But the meat is heavenly. You can trim off the fat and grill the whole rack (at right) in a hurry, or cut between the ribs for lollipop like chops. I think the best prep is to cut every second rib making double wide chops (below). If you want to break the bank, order a boneless lamb ribeye.
Loins and loin chops. From just behind the rib section comes the loin, home of the most amazing porterhouse and T-bone type cuts, shown at the top of the page. They are best when cut thick, have a bit of fat to be trimmed, and an adult serving is a minimum of three chops because they are so small, but they possess some of the most tender and flavorful meat I know on any animal. Photo at the top of the page.
Saddles. You can order a lamb hind saddle, which is both legs connected to the spine and running all the way up through the sirloin. You can also order a rib saddle, which is a rib cage from the spine half way down the side, including the ribeye. Next best thing to cooking a whole lamb.
Legs. Cone shaped, lamb hind legs are a twisted mass of muscles, sinew, and fat, but the whole leg can be roasted, with or without smoke, and you get a whole range of doneness from well done at the tapered end by the shank, to rare at the hip end, if you wish. Or you can take the leg apart, remove the bone, and cut it into chunks that make great grilling. The leg can be cut crosswise into steaks, but they can be tough. You can also bone a lamb leg and get a huge flat slab of meat, but it will be uneven in thickness, and in the process hunks start falling off. You can buy boneless legs held together in something sort of tube shaped by netting or string.
Shoulder. Another group of complex muscles that can be cut into arm chops and blade chops, but is better roasted whole or chunked for grilling. Some butchers sell boneless shoulders wrapped in mesh.
Stew and kabab meat. If you don't want to cook a whole lamb or shoulder, take the whole jugsaw puzzle apart, trim off the excess fat and sinew, and then cut the muscles into large chunks about 2" square. Grill them like kebabs, but without the metal skewer. If you cut the chunks too small it is impossible to get a dark exterior and all the rich flavors that come with it without overcooking the interior. You can freeze what you don't cook.
Ribs. Not exactly a he-man meal, the front seven ribs from the side have a lot of fat and very little meat.
Shank. About the same size as turkey drumsticks, they are usually braised in a flavorful liquid.
...more to come (to be notified when new recipes and other articles come online, be sure to subscribe to my free, spam free, email newsletter).
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