- Posted February 3, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Who taught you to love food?
Cooking Lamb the Right Way
Grilled lamb with a spoonful or two of mint jelly is a delightful dish served on special occasions or dinners. Its flavor is milder than the mutton (an older sheep). Though it may not be often that households may be cooking lamb, it’s an ingredient worth making. Lamb is produced from a young domesticated sheep, typically less than a year old, as defined in the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). “A lamb weighs about 140 pounds and yields approximately 46 to 49 pounds of edible lean retail lamb cuts, semi-boneless.”
When cooking lamb, procure the meat at your local butcher with an eye for fine textured and firm lamb meats, with a red coloring and white marbling. The fat trim should not be too thick, as suggested by the USDA. It’s important to consider these USDA guidelines to ensure that you get the best quality meats for cooking lamb and other meats.
Two popular cuts in cooking lamb meat are the chop and the rack. The lamb chop is taken from the primal cut. The chops from the loin and the rib are cut from the loin and rack, respectively. They are very tender but expensive. As an alternative in cooking lamb, consider the blade and arm chops as well as the sirloin chops. These are taken from the shoulder and leg respectively. They are less expensive cuts but are also tender as the prime cuts.
The rack of lamb, that popular cut made into roasts, is also known as the rib. The USDA describes it as having 9 full ribs. When split along the backbone, it can produce two lamb rib roasts. Perhaps the best known way of cooking lamb this way is the crown roast, which requires sewing the two rib roasts together to form the “crown.”
Cooking lamb is as varied as other red meats. The lamb cuts can be made into steaks, pan-grilled chops, pot roasts, and barbecued on skewers (especially the tender cuts). It can also be made into cutlets, breaded and deep fried.
Lamb patties (using ground lamb) can be made into mouth-watering burgers served with caramelized onions and the ubiquitous partner of lamb (the mint jelly). Just make sure the internal temperature for each patty reaches the recommended 160 °F when you grill it. Grilling lamb brings out the best flavors. Likewise, you can season the ground lamb with herbs and spices and shape them into meatballs. Serve with a sauce, dip or dressing as appetizer, main course, or side dish to a bigger meal.