Lamb refers to sheep that is typically under a year old. There is little fat on a lamb, but the meat has a distinct sweet flavour that makes it ideal for cooking up something special. It’s great at taking on different spices and flavours as well, so is perfect for using in dishes from around the world. From tender cuts for a sumptuous roast and fast cooking fillets, to the cheaper cuts that require a longer cook but that pack a real flavour punch, there’s something for everyone.
Leg of Lamb
Whole, half or boned leg of lamb makes for a stunning roast, and is something of a tradition at Easter. Rubbed in oil, seasoned well and roasted with plenty of fresh rosemary and garlic, it makes for a sensational centre piece. For something a bit different, try wrapping it in foil, and cooking it low and slow. It can also be cut into steaks, strips or cubes for grilling, frying, or on the BBQ. A boned leg of lamb that has been opened up into a large flat piece, otherwise known as butterflied is also a popular option, especially for the BBQ.
Lamb Leg Roasting Times
Roast at 220C, 200C fan, gas mark 7 for the first 20 minutes, before reducing the temperature down to 180C, 160C fan, gas mark 4.
|Medium + 25 minutes
|Well Done + 30 Minutes
Best end of neck is the first set of ribs, otherwise known as rack of lamb. It’s a prime cut, and produces some of the most tender meat on the animal. It can be cut several ways, including ‘French Trimmed’ where the ends of the bones are exposed and the fat is trimmed, ‘Guard of Honour’, where two racks are intertwined together, and of course into high end lamb cutlets. It can also be cut and tied into a circle to produce the classic ‘Crown of Lamb’, resplendent with paper hats. (we don’t do this!).
The lower leg, otherwise known as lamb shank, is another tough cut of meat, but one that is full of flavour and will fall off the bone once braised properly. Not as cheap as it once was, after becoming a firm favourite with chefs around the world.
Shoulder of Lamb
Shoulder is normally sold whole or halved on the bone. This part of the animal works hard, so really needs a good slow cook to break down the fibres and produce a tender result. You’ll find a great recipe for a pot roast here. Shoulder is also sold boned and rolled, or diced for curries and stewing.
Directly behind the ribs, running down the back towards the hind, are the loins. This is a popular cut of lamb, often prepared as a prized roast, or cut into lamb chops. A Barnsley or double loin chop is where the cut is taken across both sides of the saddle. Usually cooked with dry heat, so roast, grilled or pan fried, try using lots of rosemary, garlic and lemon juice to add flavour and cut the fatty taste.
Neck of Lamb
An often underrated cut, but growing in popularity due to it’s great flavour. This bony part of the animal, also known as scrag end, is often slow cooked on the bone for tasty stews, or taken off the bones and used for dishes such as tagine and curry.
The lower back of lamb, between the loin and leg, is known as the chump. This is a great cut for chops and steaks, but can also be tied into a joint, and baked slowly in the oven.