We’ve pulled together this guide to help you understand more about the different cuts of lamb available and what cooking method each cut is best suited to.
When buying lamb, remember to always buy free-range or organic whenever possible. This means the animal has led a happy and healthy life, often born and reared outdoors in small numbers where it can forage and exercise as nature intended.Lamb is a very common meat consumed the world over so we thought we’d share the different lamb cuts and the best way to cook them.
In the Middle East lamb has a different flavor and it has less fat in its meat.
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HOW TO SPOT GOOD QUALITY LAMB
This is not always an easy process so ask questions about what you are purchasing. Where was the lamb raised, you can even research the particular farm, it’s a good idea to get the facts. You will also want to know if the lamb cuts that you are about to buy have been frozen.
To begin with, look for meat that has a healthy red colour to it, you don’t want it to be bloody or very pale looking. Thereby using a local butcher you can trust is also a helpful thing when buying meat of any kind. With MLS you are guaranteed a Halal Cut, Responsibly raised and locally bred or premium quality lambs from across the globe.
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Just about all the meat on a lamb will be tender, but hopefully, this guide will be helpful for choosing what you like.
CHOICE LAMB CUTS
This part of the animal works hard, so the meat from a lamb’s shoulder is full of flavour. It takes a while to become tender, but this means it’s a great choice for stewing and slow-roasting. To maximise the flavour, cook lamb shoulder on the bone so the meat simply falls apart when pulled with a fork.
Best For Cooking slowly, and for stews.
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 a number of them are 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. Best served pink, they are amazing roasted and served with crushed potatoes or served lollipop style – perfect for sharing.
Best For Roasting
- LOIN CHOP
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 fattoush salad for a Middle Eastern vibe or marinate in paprika and mint and serve with harissa-spiked houmous to embrace delicious Moroccan flavours. A few loin chops kept together in one piece, then boned and rolled, make a lovely little roasting joint.
Best For Barbecue or Great on the Grill indoors.
The rump comes from the back of the lamb. This cut is lean, tender and full of flavour – just 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 centre. Or, it can be cut into chops on the bone then grilled or pan-fried.
Best For Grilled or Pan Fried.
Like the shoulders, the legs of a lamb work hard, which means that this cut has a good, strong flavour. 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 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 flavour.
Best For Cooking Whole
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 or go Moroccan with a mouth-watering tagine.
Best For Slow Cooking
The neck is a cheap cut and available at supermarkets and butchers. It is left connected to the shoulder, but a good butcher should be willing to separate it out for you. Lamb neck can be cooked slowly on low heat, yet unlike the shoulder, it can also be treated like a steak and cooked quickly over high heat until pink. It goes well with a whole load of flavours and is delicious served with a great mash when cooked low and slow. It works really well as a stew or curry and is a great cut of meat to make kebabs with, too.
Best For Cubed for marinated shish kebabs.