How to choose the right cuts
Lamb is a great source of protein, vitamins and minerals.
But some cuts are fattier than others so it’s good to know which are best for grilling, braising or slow-cooking.
Try to buy free-range or organic and local, whenever possible.
That way you’re supporting animal welfare and sustainable farming.
- Great value for family meals and perfect for a Sunday lunch.
- Better still, it tastes just as good as, sometimes even better, than more expensive leg of lamb.
- Some say lamb is fatty. They’re wrong. Lamb fat melts at a higher temperature than beef or chicken.
- So, if you cook it nice and slow – on a low temperature – the fat gets a chance to heat up. It then melts into the meat giving it loads of flavour. Result… a juicy, succulent roast.
- And it’s just as tasty if you braise it. Do it just the same, long, slow and low. And you’re in for a treat.
- TIP: make a simple 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.
Chops are quick to cook and easy to portion but depending on which part of the lamb they come from, they should be cooked in different ways.
- Lamb chops or cutlets are the most expensive cuts of lamb.
- Tender, flavoursome and juicy they’re the lamb equivalent of Rib-eye.
- They are taken from the ribs of the lamb and cooked individually, normally over a grill or a barbecue.
- Left together and cooked as a whole, they’re called a rack of lamb.
- Chops and racks can be French trimmed, where the meat is scraped from the ends of the rib bones, which looks super-impressive on a plate but in my opinion, is a waste of flavour and meat.
- These are mini T-bone steaks cut from the waist of the lamb or the saddle and is like the lamb equivalent of beef fillet.
- They’re great for grilling or barbecuing.
- It’s very lean, and should be quick-cooked and served rare.
- A double loin chop.
- A cross-section taken from right across the lamb’s loin giving a double-sided chop with a bone in the middle and a little fillet underneath.
- The rump (or chump, depends on who you speak to) comes from the back of the lamb.
- Think of it as the lamb equivalent of rump steak.
- It’s a lean cut, tender and full of flavour – it will become tough if overcooked.
- Great baked slowly in the oven or grilled.
- A cross-section of the leg and are leaner part. They can come with or without the bone.
- Great steak to barbecue.
- The saddle is two racks of lamb still attached, normally boned, stuffed, rolled and tied into a prime roasting joint.
- When kept on the bone and cut into thick slices the saddle becomes a Barnsley chop.
- Leg of lamb is a lot leaner and meatier than the shoulder, so you get more meat for your money.
- Leg of lamb is great roasted whole on the bone, or boned and barbecued (you can butterfly this joint).
- Because it’s a fairly lean muscle, don’t overcook it.
- TIP: Rub it all over with a herb oil, some garlic and even a little mustard, roast in the oven, then finish off on the barbecue to get a great gnarly smoked flavour
- Lamb shank is a super-simple, cheaper cut that goes a long way.
- Taken from the lower part of the back legs.
- Great for slow-cooking.
- A boneless fillet of meat that is ideally quickly pan-fried or roasted then sliced.
Know your terms
- To open up and bone the whole leg of lamb so it’s a sheet of meat that cooks quicker and more evenly.
- A butterflied leg of lamb is normally barbecued but can be roasted.
- When a rack of lamb has the bones exposed, neatly trimmed and cleaned of any fat or gristle.
- This applies to a leg of lamb that’s been carefully part-boned to create a cavity that can be stuffed.
- When tied, a tunnel-boned leg of lamb keeps its original shape and is easy to carve.
Small incisions are made in the lamb flesh with the point of a small knife, then stuffed with flavour-enhancing ingredients like slithers of garlic and sprigs of rosemary.
Ovens work differently and barbecuing or pan-frying lamb will involve a bit of gut instant.
Unless, like me, you’ve invested in a digital cooking thermometer – which I highly recommend – to ease the guess work and ensure a perfectly cooked piece of lamb.
Here are the temperatures of the meat that you need to know to cook lamb to your liking:
50C – very rare
55C – medium rare
60C – medium (pink)
65C – medium well
72C – well done
Check out two favourite lamb recipes:
Lamb chops with sugar snaps and peas