If the thought of cooking lamb makes you feel a little sheepish, never fear! These frequently asked questions will help shepherd you through the process of cooking lamb like a pro.
How can you tell if raw lamb is good? The meat should be bright and the fat should be white in color, not yellow or brown. The meat should not be tacky or have a strong odor.
How do I cook different cuts of lamb? Lean cuts with minimal connective tissue (such as the rack, loin, top sirloin and leg) are best cooked using dry, high heat methods like grilling, roasting, searing and cooking quickly to medium rare to medium, as overcooking will make them tough. Cuts that have more connective tissue (including the shanks and any meat from the shoulder) will do best with moist cooking methods like braising or stewing.
What seasonings pair well with lamb? Defined flavors go well with lamb. Garlic and resinous herbs like rosemary, thyme, oregano and mint work well, along with spices like cumin, curry and black pepper.
How do you French a rack of lamb? Start by cutting across the rib bones approximately ½ inch above the eye of the rib, then turning the rack over and continuing the cut on the inside of the ribs. (These will be the guidelines above where the meat will be removed.)
Leaving the rack inside up, run the tip of a sharp knife from the cut line to the end of the bone, cutting through the sinew, which should pull away from the bone slightly as you cut. When all of the bones have been scored, stand the ribs upright and use a clean, dry cloth or paper towel to push the meat down between the bones. Work from rib to rib until you reach the cross cut, then cut out the meat between the bones with a sharp, thin knife.
At this point, the bones should be clean of all meat and sinew. Any remaining can be scraped off with the edge of a knife or pulled off with a dry towel. Any excess fat can be removed from the top of the eye, but be careful not to expose the meat underneath.
Why would I go through all that trouble…? While it is a bit of work, Frenching a rack of lamb makes for a truly stunning centerpiece, and cooking the meat bone-in also adds extra flavor to the finished product. (Plus, you can brag about your skills to friends and family.)
Ready to get started, or have other questions about what to do with lamb? Drop by our meat department and talk to one of our friendly and knowledgeable butchers!