How to choose and cook various cuts of lamb


Video guide to choosing and cooking various cuts of lamb

Hi, I'm Kate and today I'm going to give you some useful information and tips on how to choose and cook various cuts of lamb. Now, in front of me I've got a selection of the more common cuts of lamb from roasting joints and chops to stewing meat.

What to look for when buying lamb

Now what to look for when buying lamb: the bones themselves should be quite pink in colour; this tells me not only is the meat fresh but it's also really good quality. The meat itself should be quite bright pink if you're buying spring lamb and as the animal matures, it will go slightly darker. The fat on the lamb should be quite white and dry and actually quite crumbly in texture and this is going to melt as the meat cooks and give a lovely moist and succulent flavour to your lamb. British lamb is considered to be its absolute best in the spring when the flavour is actually quite delicate and fragrant but as the meat matures, it's going to have more depth and be quite strong in flavour but equally delicious.

Choosing the best cut of lamb to cook

Now a lot of people say to me they find lamb quite fatty; now this depends on what joint of meat that you choose and how you cook it. Like all red meat, there are cuts that benefit from a long slow cooking and some that benefit from a quicker cook. If we look at some of the slow cooks here, we've got some stewing meat. This meat here will have come from either the leg or the shoulder of the animal and it's perfect for making casseroles or curries because of that long slow cooking time. Also the neck fillet here; now this can be cut up into chunks and is great for making something like a lamb tagine because not only have you got the long slow cooking but you'll also have those lovely Moroccan flavours which are going to be delicious. Something like that will take about an hour to cook and you should allow 500g for feeding four people. But if I was going to make a tagine, I'd probably double up the recipe and put half in the freezer for a later date.

A joint of lamb for slowing cooking or stuffing

Now there are also joints of lamb that benefit from long slow cooking and in front of me here I have got lamb breast. This comes from the underbelly of the animal: now it is quite high in fat so it's a good idea when you're cooking it to skim off some of that excess fat. I have a shoulder of lamb here; well, it's actually a half shoulder and the bone is still in, but when you buy it off the bone it's perfect for rolling and stuffing because the meat actually opens up quite flat. And ingredients that are perfect for that stuffing are things like onion, dried apricots, herbs and garlic and you just put that stuffing in and roast it and it's really, really tasty.

Lamb shank is best for slow cooking

Another slow cook is the lamb shank. This has become really popular in recent years. This also benefits from long slow cooking but it can take really robust flavours like red wine and tomato, maybe a Spanish style or a spicy Asian flavour or even just root vegetables; but either way it needs a nice long slow cook so that meat is lovely, meltingly tender and it's perfect for feeding people with a really hearty appetite.

Chops are quick and easy

If you haven't got as much time and you want to do something a bit quick, we have the chops. These lamb chops here have a lovely tender eye of meat here and just two to three minutes on each side under the grill and you've got perfectly cooked lamb chops.

And if you want a little bit more meat perhaps these legs steaks are perfect for you and really suitable for cooking on the barbecue in the summer and they can be marinated with things like lemon, rosemary, garlic and olive oil and they're really delicious.

A roasting joint for a classic Sunday roast

But if you want a classic roasting joint for Sunday then it's got to be the leg of lamb. A whole leg of lamb like this one here is going to weigh about 2.5 kilos and feed up to eight people but you can buy half a leg as well. Often it's studded with things like rosemary or garlic or even anchovies, which might sound a bit unusual but those flavours are going to melt into the meat as it roasts. And as a guide, you want to cook the meat for 20 minutes at about 200 degrees C and get that lovely brown outside to the meat, then drop the temperature down to 180 and you're going to need to cook it for between 15 and 20 minutes per 500g, depending on how pink you like your meat. A clever tip: you could actually roast your leg of lamb over several hours. So once you've cooked it for the initial 20 minutes, drop the temperature right down to 150 or 160 and cook it for maybe four or five hours. But make sure it's covered tightly with foil and there's plenty of stock so the meat doesn't dry out.

So whether you like your roast lamb on a Sunday with lots of mint sauce, or you prefer a slow cooked lamb curry, why not check out the Tesco Real Food website for some inspirational lamb recipes?

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