Welcome to BDK Restaurant’s guide on how to select the best cut of lamb for your culinary masterpiece. We’ve put together this comprehensive guide to help you understand the different cuts of lamb available and which cooking methods are best suited for each. So, before you dive into your recipe, let’s learn about the art of choosing the perfect lamb cut for your dish.
The Importance of Quality and Welfare
When it comes to buying lamb, we highly recommend opting for free-range or organic varieties whenever possible. These types of lamb have led happy and healthy lives, often being born and raised outdoors in small numbers, allowing them to forage and exercise naturally. For an even higher standard of welfare, look for certifications like RSPCA Approved or Certified Humane. By choosing quality cuts, you’ll not only enjoy delicious flavors but also support sustainable and ethical farming practices.
Shoulder – A Flavourful Delight
The lamb’s shoulder is a hardworking part of the animal, resulting in meat that is full of flavor. Although it takes some time to become tender, it is an excellent choice for stewing and slow-roasting. For maximum flavor, cook lamb shoulder on the bone until the meat effortlessly falls apart with a fork. You can’t go wrong with recipes using lamb shoulder – try our slow-cooked shoulder with roasted vegetables for a perfect Sunday lunch or roast it in fragrant spices for a more adventurous dish. For a simple yet delicious preparation, create a herb rub with mint or rosemary, garlic, sea salt, black pepper, and olive oil. Massage the rub into the meat and place it on top of wedges of onion. Cook it on a high temperature to achieve a golden skin, then cover and let it simmer over low heat for 4 to 5 hours, depending on the weight.
Chop/Rack – Tender and Delicious
Lamb chops or cutlets are undeniably delicious and tender, making them the most sought-after cuts of lamb. These cuts are taken from the lamb’s ribs and are usually cooked individually, whether on a grill or a barbecue. When served as a whole, they form a rack of lamb. For an impressive presentation, you can opt for French-trimmed chops, where the meat is scraped from the ends of the rib bones. Lamb chops and racks are best enjoyed when cooked to a pink hue, whether roasted and served with crushed potatoes or prepared “lollipop style” for a delightful sharing experience.
Loin Chop – A Mini T-Bone Steak
Loin chops are mini T-bone steaks cut from the waist of the lamb. On one side of the chop, you’ll find the lamb loin, and on the other side, the tender fillet. Like chops, loin chops are fantastic for grilling or barbecuing. They pair wonderfully with a Middle Eastern vibe when served with a fattoush salad or embrace the delicious flavors of Morocco when marinated in paprika and mint. A few loin chops kept together, boned, and rolled create a delightful little roasting joint.
Rump – Tender and Flavorful
The lamb rump, located at the back of the animal, is a lean and tender cut bursting with flavor. Take care not to overcook it, as it may become tough if left to dry out. Pan-frying the rump whole and finishing it in the oven for a few minutes will give you a beautifully blushing pink center. Alternatively, you can cut it into chops on the bone and either grill or pan-fry them to perfection.
Leg – The Versatile Cut
Similar to the shoulder, the lamb’s legs work hard, resulting in a cut with a robust flavor. A leg of lamb is fantastic when roasted whole on the bone or barbecued. Be cautious not to overcook it, as it is a relatively lean muscle and can turn dry. For a scrumptious preparation, rub the leg with herb oil, garlic, and even a hint of mustard if desired. Roast it in the oven and finish it off on the barbecue to achieve a delightful smoky flavor. A roast leg of lamb is perfect for a weekend with family or when entertaining a large group.
Shank – The Economical Choice
Lamb shank is a wonderfully economical cut that goes a long way. Taken from the lower part of the back legs, it contains a lot of collagen, which, when cooked slowly, gives the meat a soft, melting texture. This makes lamb shank perfect for stews and slow-cooking. For a British-inspired dish, cook it with a stout or porter to add depth. Alternatively, go Moroccan with a mouth-watering tagine that will transport your taste buds to exotic lands.
Neck – A Budget-Friendly Delicacy
Lamb neck is an affordable cut readily available at supermarkets and butcher shops. Although it is usually connected to the shoulder, a good butcher will be happy to separate it for you. Lamb neck can be cooked slowly on a low heat for a wonderfully tender result. Unlike the shoulder, it can also be treated like a steak and quickly cooked over high heat until pink. It pairs well with a variety of flavors and is delicious when served with mashed potatoes or used in stews, curries, and kebabs.
If you’re eager to try a delectable lamb marinade, you should check out Jamie’s beautifully fragrant recipe, which perfectly complements shoulder and leg cuts. And for all your roasting meat needs, make sure to explore Jamie’s handy guide for timings and expert tips on cooking the perfect lamb.
So, armed with this knowledge, head to the kitchen and let your culinary adventures with lamb begin!