What is lamb? lamb meat cuts and cooking time for roast lamb
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What is lamb? lamb meat cuts and cooking time for roast lamb

What is Lamb

Lamb is a sheep that is typically less than 1 year old.
There is little fat on lamb, and the meat can vary in colour from a tender pink to a pale red.

Lamb less than 3 months of age is called spring lamb.
Spring lamb is extremely tender and has a milder flavour than lamb.

What is Mutton

Mutton is meat from a sheep that is older than 1 year, ideally 3 years old. It is an intense red colour and contains a considerable amount of fat.
Its flavour can be very strong, and you might have to acquire the taste before being able to enjoy a meal of mutton if you’re an American.

The gamey flavour of mutton does tend to appeal more to people who also enjoy other game meats such as deer, wild pig, and rabbit.

Lamb Meat Cuts

Popular cuts of lamb and their uses.
Here are the most popular cuts of lamb and some tips for the methods of cooking that best suit each one.
Popular cuts of lamb and their uses..

  1. Chops/Rack

    Lamb chops and cutlets are really tender and flavoursome – they are also the most expensive cut of lamb.

    Chops are taken from the ribs of the lamb and cooked individually, crumbed cutlets can be popular.

    When a number of ribs are left together and cooked as a whole, they are called a rack of lamb.

    A rack can be frenched (fat and tissue between the bones is removed), capoffed (the fat cap is removed) or fully denuded (all fat removed).

    Chops/Rack cooking methods

  2. Leg

    Lamb legs are lean and work hard, which means they have strong flavour but can be tough and dry if overcooked.

    Leg of lamb is highly versatile and tastes fantastic roasted whole on the bone, or boned and barbecued.

    Leg is a quite expensive cut that is perfect for weekly meals or entertaining – a whole lamb leg will serve at least 6 people.

    Leg of lamb cooking methods

    • Roasting
    • Grill/Broiling
    • Barbecued
  3. Loin Chop

    Loin comes from the middle-lower section of the rear quarter, and is usually divided into loin chops and lamb tenderloin.
    Loin chops are lean, tender and really tasty.

    They are one of the most readily available cuts at supermarkets and they are easy to prepare.

    For optimal tenderness, loin cooking time should be minimal.

    Loin chop cooking methods

    • Roasting
    • Grilling/Broiling
    • Pan Fry
    • Barbecue
  4. Lamb Shank

    Lamb shank comes from the lower part of the fore or hind leg, and is almost always cooked in liquid until the meat is so tender it falls off the bone.

    Shank contains a lot of collagen, which, when cooked slowly, gives the meat a velvety and melting texture.

    Shank tastes best roasted or braised, as this draws out the juices from the bone.
    Although shank requires long, slow cooking, its unique flavour and winning texture is definitely worth it.

    Lamb shank cooking methods

    • Stewing
    • Braising
    • Smoking/Low and slow
  5. Lamb Neck

    Neck is an economical cut – it is often left connected to the shoulder, so you may need to ask your butcher to separate it for you.

    Lamb neck tastes fantastic when cooked low and slow in stews and curries, but, unlike shoulder, can also be cooked as a steak over high heat until pink.

    Neck is versatile and tastes great with a wide range of accompanying flavours.

    Lamb neck cooking methods

    • Stewing
    • Braising
    • Barbecued
    • Smoking/Low and slow
  6. Lamb Rump

    Rump comes from the back of the lamb, and is lean, tender and very flavoursome.

    Lamb rump is often cooked as a mini roast and is also popular cut into steaks.

    Be careful not to overcook rump though, as it becomes tough when it dries out.

    Lamb rump cooking methods

    • Pan fried
    • Stir Fried
    • Seared and roasted
    • Stewed
  7. Chump

    Lamb chump is equivalent to beef rump – it is an inexpensive cut taken from the area where the leg meets the shortloin.

    Both chump chops and lamb rump are taken from this area.

    Chump cooking methods

    • Roast
    • Barbecued
    • Grilling/Broiling
    • Stew
  8. Tenderloin

    Lamb tenderloin is also known as lamb fillet and is prepared by removing the muscle from the underside of the shortloin.

    Tenderloin is one of the most tender cuts available due to its minimal usage by the animal – it has little to no fat or connective tissue.

    Tenderloin cooking methods

    • Grilling/Broiling
    • Barbecued
    • Pan fry
  9. Shortloin

    The eye of shortloin or ‘backstrap’ is taken from the middle of the loin and then trimmed of all excess fat.

    Shortloin is one of the leanest, sweetest and most tender cuts of lamb.

    Shortloin cooking methods

    • Grilling/Broiling
    • Pan fry
    • BBQ
  10. Shoulder

    Lamb shoulder is the most economical cut, which means it needs long, slow and moist cooking to tenderise it.
    Like leg, the shoulder works hard, so it is full of flavour but can be tough if undercooked or cooked too quickly.

    Lamb shoulder is commonly used in stews and casseroles, and ground lamb also often comes from the shoulder.
    For maximum flavour, cook lamb shoulder on the bone.

    Shoulder cooking methods

    • Braising
    • Stewing
    • Smoking/Low and slow
  11. Lamb Forequarter

    Cuts from the forequarter (including forequarter chops, forequarter rack and lamb shoulder) are economical and suited to both long and slow cooking.

    Forequarter chops are the largest lamb chops available.

    Forequarter cooking methods

    • BBQ
    • Grilling/Broiling
    • Pan fry
    • Smoking/Low and slow

Roast Lamb Tips

  1. Let the meat come to room temperature just before roasting it.
  2. Always season well before cooking.
  3. Use a roasting rack to ensure even browning and heat circulation around the meat.
  4. Roast leaner cuts in a hotter oven:
    A hot oven gets leaner cuts of meat nicely browned on the outside before they become overcooked and dry in the middle.
  5. Roast fattier pieces of lamb longer and at lower temps:
    Low and slow allows the fat to slowly melt and turn into tender gelatin which all helps with flavour and tenderness.
  6. Rest the meat before carving. This allows the meat fibres – which contract in the oven – to relax again, giving juicier meat.
  7. Use a straight-edged (flat-bladed) carving knife, not serrated. Always carve across the grain to ensure slices are tender.

Cooking Times For Roast Lamb

  1. Preheat oven to the recommended temperature for your cut.
  2. Follow the recommended roast lamb cooking times for your cut’s weight.
  3. Check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer.
  4. Remove roast shortly before it reaches the final temperature as it continues to cook while resting.
Lamb cutOven temp.Rare internal temp 58°C/136°FMedium internal temp 65°C/149°FWell Done internal temp 70°C/158°F
Eye of loin/backstrap, lamb round, topside roasts, mini roast, lamb rump220°C/425℉22 min per 500g28 min per 500g32 min per 500g
Rack of lamb, four-rib roast, crown roast200°C/400℉24 min per 500g33 min per 500g43 min per 500g
Loin (boned and rolled) easy-carve leg or shoulder180°C/350℉19 min per 500g26 min per 500g30 min per 500g
Butterflied lamb leg180°C/350℉12 min per 500g15 min per 500g18 min per 500g
Butterflied lamb shoulder180°C/350℉22 min per 500g25 min per 500g29 min per 500g
Boneless lamb shoulder (Boned and rolled)180°C/350℉19 min per 500g26 min per 500g31 min per 500g

Lamb Recipes

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