Your guide to lamb
There are many different cuts of lamb available in your local butcher
or supermarket, and look out for seasonal variations as well, from tender
new season spring lamb to flavoursome and mature autumn lamb.
Shopping for Lamb
When shopping for joints, allow 100-175g (4-6oz) raw meat per person for boneless joints and 225-350g (8-12oz) for bone-in joints, and always buy from a good retailer. The flesh may vary in colour, due to age and pasture used for grazing. Generally, it should be bright, moist and brownish pink (not too red or bloody). The fat should be white, firm and crumbly, yet waxy.
As a guide, red meat will keep for between three and five days in the refrigerator at a temperature of between 0-4°C. Always ensure you follow the `use by’ dates on packaging.
BEST LAMB CUTS FOR SLOW COOKING
Scrag end – The bony part of the neck, cut into thick slices, often sold as stewing lamb. This flavoursome cut, when trimmed of fat, is ideal in soups and stews, on or off the bone.
Boned, or diced shoulder or leg – Great for stews, casseroles and curries. The leg meat will provide leaner pieces of meat, but when trimmed of excess fat the shoulder will provide slightly more flavour.
Whole, boned and rolled leg and shoulder joints – These joints are suitable for potroasting where the joint is pre-browned and pot-roasted slowly with vegetables, stock and fresh herbs.
Lamb shanks – A well flavoured cut, ideal for chillier evenings and perfect for slow, moist cooking until the meat literally falls off the bone.
Best end chops or cutlets – Traditionally used for Lancashire hotpot and suitable for grilling, frying and roasting too.
Chump chops – A thick chop that may be diced and used in braised or casserole dishes but also good for grilling, frying and roasting.
Lamb cubes – Taken from the leg and great for pies and pasties.
BEST LAMB CUTS FOR PAN FRYING, GRILLING & GRIDDLING
Lamb cutlets* – Taken from the best end, these require very little cooking and should be eaten slightly pink. The cooking time depends on the thickness of the cutlets.
Shoulder steaks* – These are full of flavour although slightly fattier than other steaks or chops.
Noisettes* – A premium cut in which the eye of the loin is completely boned out to form a fillet tied with string. This cut is beautifully tender and quick to cook.
Valentine steaks* – A modern butterfly cut prepared from the loin with the meat of two chops.
Barnsley chops* – Also known as crown or double chops and prepared from the saddle. Perfect for those with a hearty appetite.
Chump chops* – These chops have less bone with a firmer texture than other cuts and a superb flavour.
Lamb cubes* – Taken from the leg and great for kebabs.
Leg steaks* – These are from the leaner part of the leg. Tare care when cooking to ensure maximum tenderness and flavour.
Stir-fry strips – Ideal for quick cooking. Try hot in a salad or wrap.
BEST LAMB CUTS FOR ROASTING
Rolled and boned shoulder – A succulent tender roasting joint, ideal for stuffing.
Rolled boneless shoulder mini joint – A smaller joint suitable for 2-3 people. Quick to cook and perfect for a mid-week supper.
Cushion of lamb – A boneless joint that’s round in shape and easy to carve. Your butcher can prepare this for you.
Half shoulder – A cut that is full of flavour and sold as either blade or knuckle. A convenient small roasting joint.
Whole shoulder* – A wonderful roasting joint from the forequarter that has a slightly sweet flavour. This cut is perfect for the barbecue too.
Whole and half leg – Prime roasting joints perfect for Sunday lunch.
Boneless rolled leg joints – Leg joints which are easy to carve and ideal for stuffing.
Best end of neck – Sometimes called rack of lamb this is an extremely versatile cut. It has 6 or 7 small chops, making it a perfect joint to roast for 2-3 people and quick to cook. A rack is cut between the bones to produce lamb cutlets. The meat and fat is often trimmed prior to cooking. This is known as `French’ or `larder’ trimming. A Guard of Honour is made by joining together two trimmed best ends so that they face each other, fat side out, to
form an arch.
Boned and rolled loin – A succulent joint that can be stuffed before roasting, or sliced into loin chops and roasted with root vegetables and fresh herbs.
Saddle of lamb – A premium roasting joint, perfect for a special occasion, which, depending on size can serve up to 8-10. Can be boned and stuffed before roasting.ties.