LAMB

Cuts of Lamb

Types of Lamb | Shoulder | Breast and Foreshank
Rib | Loin/Flank | Leg | Variety Meats | Special-Order Cuts

Lamb, the meat from the carcass of a young sheep, is a lean red meat with a mild, but distinctive flavor. A very nutritious food, lamb is a good source of protein, B vitamins and iron. Although it is eaten less often than beef in the U.S., lamb is the meat of choice in many parts of the world, both for everyday meals and holiday feasts.

Types of Lamb
Type Description Cooking Method

Baby Lamb
(sometimes called Hothouse Lamb)
Milk-fed lamb not more than 10 weeks old, less than 20 pounds, very pale pink in color. Usually roasted whole.
Spring or Easter Lamb Several months old, usually 20 to 40 pounds. Often spit-roasted.
Lamb Five months to one year old. This is the age at which most lamb is marketed. A wide variety of cooking methods are suitable.
Yearling
(sometimes called Hogget) Meat from animals 1 to 2 years old. The meat is darker and more flavorful than lamb. Although not widely available, both yearling and mutton are excellent choices for flavorful ethnic dishes.
Mutton Meat from any sheep more than 2 years old. (Sometimes yearling is considered mutton.) Cuts are larger, the color darker red, the flavor more pronounced.

There are five primal, or basic, cuts of lamb: Shoulder, Breast/Foreshank, Rib, Loin/Flank, and Leg. Each of the primal cuts can be further divided into a variety of subprimal and market ready, or ready to cook, cuts. Described in the tables below are the lamb primal cuts and the subprimal and market ready cuts obtained from them.

Shoulder

The shoulder is the primal cut that includes the upper front leg, the shoulder blade, ribs 1 through 5, and the neck. Because these muscles get a lot of exercise, the meat is tougher and more flavorful than the loin or hind leg. It also has more connective tissue, veins of fat, and many bones. Shoulder cuts are usually cooked using moist heat, although meat from young animals can be successfully roasted at low temperatures.

One of the larger cuts of lamb, whole shoulder is very flavorful. Bone-in shoulder roast can be used in a variety of recipes and is a more economical cut than leg roast. Although many cooks believe that a bone-in roast produces better flavor, the complex bone structure of the shoulder makes it difficult to carve. The bone-in shoulder is also known as the square-cut shoulder. Boned whole shoulder is usually rolled and tied to maintain its shape, if it is to be roasted. This is an ideal cut for stuffing.

The shoulder can also be divided into three subprimals: neck, blade, and arm.
Subprimal Cut Market Ready Cuts Description
Neck

Neck Slices

Stew Meat

Ground Lamb
The neck is a small, tough, flavorful cut usually sold whole or cut into crosswise slices, and is cooked using moist heat. Neck meat may also be used as stew meat or it may be ground.
Blade

Blade Roast

The blade roast is cut from the shoulder blade section of the shoulder primal.
Saratoga Roll This refers to a boneless center roast obtained from the blade portion of the shoulder and is also known as a chuck eye roast.
Blade Chop The most flavorful and economical chops come from the shoulder. They can vary a lot in degree of tenderness. In general, the blade chop, from the back side of the shoulder will be more tender than the arm chop from the front side.

Arm

Arm Roast

The arm roast is cut from the upper arm section of the shoulder primal.
Arm Chop The arm chop is cut from the upper arm section and contains a cross-section of the upper arm bone. It is a bit less tender than the blade chop.
Other Stew Meat Shoulder meat, trimmed of fat and connective tissue, is the best choice for stew. It is usually sold already cut into cubes, but a shoulder roast, boned or bone-in, can easily be chunked into stew pieces.
Kebab Meat Cubed shoulder meat is sometimes used for kebabs to be grilled, but since the shoulder is not as reliably tender as the leg, kebabs prepared with leg meat are a better choice for grilling.

Breast and Foreshank

The breast is the lower part of the front half of the lamb’s carcass. It tends to be quite fat, but very flavorful. The foreshank is the front leg from the knee to the shoulder primal.
Subprimal Cut Market Ready Cuts Description
Breast

Whole Breast

The whole bone-in breast can be used as a roast when cooked with moist heat. It is often boned and rolled in which case it is usually stuffed and braised.

Spareribs

Riblets

Denver Ribs
Spareribs, which contain more bone and fat than meat, may be in large slabs or separated into riblets. Spareribs that have been trimmed of all fat and connective tissue are known as Denver ribs.
Foreshank Foreshank

The foreshank is the leanest cut of lamb and requires long slow cooking with moist heat to dissolve the connective tissue. It may be whole or cut across the bone into rounds.

The foreshank is also known as simply a “lamb shank”, but this can be confusing because the lower part of the shank half of the rear leg is also known as a lamb shank. A lamb shank is also known as a trotter.
Other Ground Lamb Scraps from the breast and foreshank are often ground into lambburger.

Rib

The rib is the section of the lamb carcass on either side of the backbone between the shoulder and the loin and includes ribs 6 through 12. Rib meat is expensive, mild flavored, and tender. The rib cut has an outer layer of fat which can be trimmed off but, if left on during cooking, melts and bastes the meat. Rib meat is best cooked using dry heat: by roasting, broiling, or grilling.
Subprimal / Market Ready Cuts Description

Rib Roast:

* Rack of Lamb
* Crown Roast

A whole rib roast, or “rack of lamb” has seven or eight ribs. Although it may be cooked as any roast, there are several traditional and very elegant treatments. When “Frenched,” or prepared with the upper ends of the rib bones trimmed (and often capped with decorative covers) it is one of the most elegant cuts from the lamb carcass. Two or three racks can be combined end to end and then curved into a circle to make a Crown Roast, or a pair of racks can be roasted with their rib ends interlaced. Be sure the chine bone has been cut through.
Rib Chop A rib chop is, with the loin chop, the most highly prized, the most tender, and tastiest cut of lamb. The rib chop has somewhat more fat than the loin chop and is therefore somewhat more flavorful.

Loin/Flank

The loin primal cut is the section along the lamb’s back from the 13th rib to the hip. It also includes the flank, or belly section, which is much tougher than the loin section.

The loin contains the most expensive, highly prized, and tender meat. It is somewhat leaner than the rib cut. Care must be taken in preparing loin meat, whatever the cut, so that it doesn’t dry out during cooking. Therefore, it is recommended that cuts from this area be served medium rare or medium, and never well done.
Subprimal Cut Market Ready Cuts Description
Loin Loin Roast The entire section may be left whole as a bone-in roast. It is not a large cut and should be cooked carefully to prevent overcooking and drying out.
Loin Eye Roast This is a boneless cut which consists of the muscle that lies along the backbone. It makes an elegant, expensive roast but is quite small, usually weighing not more than two pounds.
Saddle of Lamb This cut is a double loin roast, from both sides of the backbone. It does not contain a large quantity of meat, but the quality is unsurpassed, and it is easy to carve. The cut would probably need to be special-ordered from your butcher.

Loin Chop
The loin roast can be sliced crosswise into individual chops. Loin chops are the most tender, leanest, and most expensive of the various lamb chops and can be identified by the “T-bone”. The loin chop is sometimes called the lamb T-bone chop. If cut from both sides of the backbone, they are called double chops.
Medallion or Noisette These are crosswise slices of the boneless loin and are suitable for very quick cooking. They are often served with a sauce.
Tenderloin Tenderloin This cut consists of the other muscle in the loin and is very tender and small - too small to roast, it should be grilled or sautéed.
Flank Flank/Apron Unlike other cuts from the loin, the flank is tough and is usually ground into lambburger.

Leg

Although a lamb has four legs, only the two hind legs produce the cut referred to as “leg of lamb”. It is a large, lean, and tender cut and can be used whole or subdivided into smaller cuts, which can be prepared in many different ways and are usually cooked using dry heat. The whole, bone-in leg can weigh from five to nine pounds and may be American style (no shank bone attached) or French style (shank bone left on). A whole leg that has been boned makes a compact and tidy roast when rolled (with or without stuffing) and tied or netted to keep its shape. It may also be butterflied (so-called because the deboned, flattened leg resembles a butterfly’s shape) for grilling.
Subprimal Cut Market Ready Cuts Description
Sirloin Half Sirloin, Half-leg Roast, Bone-in The sirloin (top of the leg, hip area) is meatier and more tender than the shank half and makes an excellent oven roast and usually weighs 3 to 4 pounds.
Sirloin, Half-leg Roast, Boneless The sirloin half, when boned and rolled, makes an ideal size (about two pounds) for four people.
Leg (Sirloin) Chop Leg chops come from the sirloin end of the leg. They are identifiable by the crosscut section of round leg bone within the meat. Sirloin chops are very meaty and make a larger and more economical chop than either rib or loin chops.
Shank Half Shank Roast

The shank half of the leg is leaner than the sirloin half, but it is tougher and chewier and has a higher percentage of bone. It makes a flavorful small roast if cooked properly. It typically weighs 3 to 4 pounds.

The shank half of the rear leg is often confused with “lamb shank”, which most often refers to the foreshank, but may also refer to the lower end of the shank half of the rear leg.
Lamb Shank A lamb shank is the lower end of the shank half of the rear leg. The foreshanks are also known as lamb shanks.
Crosscuts Center Leg Roast Cut from the center of the rear leg, the center leg roast contains a portion of the sirloin half and a portion of the shank half of the leg.
Leg Steak Steaks are cut from the center of the leg. They are identifiable by the crosscut section of round leg bone within the meat.
Other Kebab Meat Kebabs are cubes of meat, ideally free of fat, bone or connective tissue, usually meant to be grilled, as in shish kebab, souvlaki, or shaslik. Leg is the preferred cut for kebabs since it has large muscle areas which yield cubes free from gristle and bone, and is tender enough for grilling. Leg cubes are sometimes used for stew meat although this lean, tender cut is less suitable for stew than the more flavorful shoulder.

Variety Meats
Market Ready Cuts Description
Liver Although it has the characteristic liver taste, lamb liver is milder and sweeter than beef or pork liver and is very tender. It is an excellent source of iron and B vitamins but is also quite high in cholesterol.
Kidney Lamb kidneys are valued for their tenderness and mild flavor. They are often grilled or roasted, but should never be overcooked.

Tongue

Heart
Cooked until tender and covered with a seasoned broth, these organ meats make excellent cold cuts.

Special-Order Cuts
Market Ready Cuts Description
Saddle of Lamb This cut is a double loin roast, from both sides of the backbone.
Foresaddle of Lamb The entire front half of the lamb carcass, from a lamb of about 20 pounds. It is usually stuffed and roasted.
Baron of Lamb The entire rear half of the lamb carcass, usually from a lamb of about 20 pounds. It is usually roasted.
Crown Roast
Guard of Honor

These are both special preparations of Rack of Lamb and may be available from some butchers without special ordering; or they can be created by the home cook from two racks.

Whole Lamb and Primal Cuts

Whole Lamb

Baby Lamb, sometimes called Hothouse Lamb, is milk-fed lamb that is not more than 10 weeks old. It usually weighs less than 20 pounds and the meat is very pale pink in color. It is often sold and prepared whole.

Whole Primal Cuts

Whole primal cuts of lamb may be purchased from a butcher or meat locker or it may be possible to obtained them with a special order at some food stores. You must be knowledgeable on how to divide primal cuts into smaller cuts, or the result will be incorrect cuts, too much waste, and elimination of any potential costs savings. The five primal, or basic, cuts of lamb are: Shoulder, Breast and Foreshank, Rib, Loin, and Leg.

Lamb - Oven Roasts

Oven Roasts

A cut of lamb suitable for oven roasting is usually a minimum of 2 inches thick. If not overcooked, the dry heat of oven roasting enhances the flavor and tenderness of the lamb. The best oven roasts are from the tender cuts of the loin, rib, and leg. Shoulder cuts, which are usually best when braised, may be purchased as oven roasts if the cuts are from younger animals and are of the highest quality.

Blade Roast

The blade roast is cut from the shoulder blade section of the shoulder primal. Although it is best when braised, it can be successfully oven roasted if the meat is of the highest quality and it is not overcooked.

Saratoga Roll

This refers to a boneless center roast obtained from the blade portion of the shoulder and is also known as a chuck eye roast.

Arm Roast

The arm roast is cut from the upper arm section of the shoulder primal. Like the blade roast, it is often braised, but it can be roasted successfully if it is not overcooked.

Whole, Bone-In Shoulder Roast

One of the larger cuts of lamb, shoulder is very flavorful. Bone-in shoulder roast, also known as square-cut shoulder, can be used in a variety of recipes and is a more economical cut than leg of lamb. Although many cooks believe that a bone-in roast produces better flavor, the complex bone structure of the shoulder makes it difficult to carve. The roast can be purchased pre-sliced and tied to hold the shape, making carving unnecessary, but it must not be overcooked because it can dry out more easily than a roast that has not been presliced.

Whole, Boneless Shoulder Roast

Boned shoulder is usually rolled and tied to maintain its shape, if it is to be roasted. This is an ideal cut for stuffing.

Rib Roast or Rack of Lamb

A whole rib roast, or “rack of lamb” has seven or eight ribs. Although it may be roasted as is, it may also be “Frenched,” or prepared with the upper ends of the rib bones trimmed (and often capped with decorative covers). One rack of lamb is usually large enough to serve three people. A rib roast is one of the most tender and juicy cuts of lamb and it is also one of the most expensive. Roasting is the best method for cooking a rib roast, but it should never be overcooked because it will lose some of its tenderness.

Crown Roast

Two or three racks of lamb can be combined end to end and then curved into a circle to make a Crown Roast. This is a special preparation of Rack of Lamb and may be available from some butchers without special ordering; or it can be created by the home cook. Be sure the chine bone has been cut through before attempting to create the crown roast.

Guard of Honor

The bone ends of two racks of lamb can be interlaced and then tied to form the Guard of Honor. Like the Crown Roast, this is a special preparation of Rack of Lamb and may be available from some butchers without special ordering; or it can be created by the home cook.

Loin Roast

The entire loin section may be left whole as a bone-in roast. It is not a large cut and should be cooked carefully to prevent overcooking and drying out.

Loin Eye Roast

This is a boneless cut which consists of the muscle that lies along the backbone. It makes an elegant, expensive roast but is quite small, usually not weighing more than two pounds. The loin eye roast is also known as the boneless loin roast, rolled lamb roast, or a loin roll.

Saddle of Lamb

This cut is a double loin roast, from both sides of the backbone. It does not contain a large quantity of meat, but the quality is unsurpassed, and it is easy to carve. The cut would probably need to be special-ordered from your butcher.

Whole Leg, Bone-in

The whole, bone-in leg can weigh from five to nine pounds and may be American style (no shank bone attached) or French style (shank bone left on).

Whole Leg, Boned

This cut makes a compact and tidy roast when rolled (with or without stuffing) and tied or netted to keep its shape. It may also be butterflied (so-called because the deboned, flattened leg resembles a butterfly’s shape) for grilling.

Sirloin Half of Leg Roast, Bone-in

The sirloin (top of the leg, hip area) is meatier and more tender than the shank half and makes an excellent oven roast. It usually weighs 3 to 4 pounds.

Sirloin Half of Leg Roast, Boneless

The sirloin half of the rear leg, when boned and rolled, makes an ideal size (about two pounds) for four people.

Foresaddle of Lamb

This cut is the entire front half of the lamb carcass, from a lamb of about 20 pounds. It is usually stuffed and roasted.

Center Leg Roast

Cut from the center of the rear leg, the center leg roast contains a portion of the sirloin half and a portion of the shank half of the leg.

Baron of Lamb

This refers to the entire rear half of the lamb carcass, usually from a lamb of about 20 pounds. It is usually roasted.

Lamb - Roasts for Braising

Roasts for Braising

Tougher cuts of lamb that contain a large quantity of collagen (connective tissue) are ideal candidates for braising. The long slow cooking of braising dissolves the collagen, creating a rich, smooth sauce that is used as an accompaniment for the roast. The majority of the lamb carcass is tender enough for dry heat cooking methods, which leaves only a few cuts that require braising or stewing for the best results.

Neck

The neck is a small, tough, flavorful cut usually sold whole or cut into crosswise slices, and is cooked using moist heat. When braised, the fat and collagen in the neck melts, which helps to tenderize the meat. Because of the large quantity of bone in the neck, it is best to purchase at least a pound for each serving. Neck is excellent when trimmed and cubed for stew meat and it may also be ground.

Whole Breast

The whole bone-in breast can be used as a roast when cooked with moist heat. It is often boned and rolled in which case it is usually stuffed and braised.

Foreshank

The foreshank is the leanest cut of lamb and requires long slow cooking with moist heat to dissolve the connective tissue. It may be left whole or cut across the bone into rounds. The foreshank is also known as simply a lamb shank, but this can be confusing because the lower part of the shank half of the rear leg is also known as a lamb shank. A lamb shank is also known as a trotter.

Shank Half of Leg Roast, Bone-in

The shank half of the leg is leaner than the sirloin half, but it is tougher and chewier and has a higher percentage of bone. It becomes tender and succulent when properly prepared using moist heat cooking methods. It typically weighs 3 to 4 pounds. The shank half-leg is often confused with “lamb shank”, which most often refers to the foreshank, but may also refer to the lower end of the shank half of the rear leg.

Shank Half of Leg Roast, Boneless

The shank half of the rear leg can be boned, rolled, and tied to form a roast suitable for braising.

Rear Leg Shank

A lamb shank usually refers to the foreshank, but this can be confusing because the lower end of the rear leg is also known as a lamb shank. To make it even more confusing, the entire lower half of the rear leg is referred to as the “shank half”, but this cut is much larger than a lamb shank and includes part of the center leg. Foreshanks and the rear leg shanks may also be referred to as trotters. They may be braised whole or cut across the bone into slices for stew. Shanks must be braised or stewed to tenderize the meat.

Lamb - Chops

Chops

Chops are among the most popular fresh lamb cuts. The most tender and expensive chops are cut from the loin and rib. Less expensive lamb chops are cut from the leg and shoulder.

Blade Chop

The blade chop is cut from the rib or back side of the blade section of the shoulder. It is economical and flavorful and is a bit more tender than the arm chop. It is usually grilled, broiled, or pan-fried for the best results.

Arm Chop

The arm chop is cut from the upper arm section of the shoulder primal and is a bit tougher than the blade chop. It is usually broiled or grilled, but braising makes it very tender. The arm chop is also known as the shoulder chop and the round bone chop.

Rib Chop

A rib chop is, with the loin chop, the most highly prized, the most tender, and tastiest cut of lamb. The rib chop has somewhat more fat than the loin chop and is therefore somewhat more flavorful. If the meat is scraped from the ends of the bones (Frenching), the chop is known as a French lamb chop or a Frenched lamb chop.

Loin Chop

The loin roast can be sliced crosswise into individual chops. Loin chops are the most tender, leanest, and most expensive of the various lamb chops and can be identified by the “T-bone”. The loin chop is sometimes called the lamb T-bone chop. If cut from both sides of the backbone, they are called double chops or English chops. Loin chops are usually grilled or broiled, which allows the meat to remain tender and flavorful.

Leg (Sirloin) Chop

Chops come from the sirloin end of the leg and steaks come from the center of the leg. They are both identifiable by the crosscut section of round leg bone within the meat. Sirloin chops are very meaty and make a larger and more economical chop than either rib or loin chops, but they are almost as tender. They are best when grilled or broiled.

Lamb - Steaks

Steaks

Lamb steaks are usually cut from the leg. Small, expensive steaks are cut from the loin and are known as medallions or noisettes.

Leg Steak

A leg steak is obtained from the center of the leg. It is identifiable by the crosscut section of round leg bone within the meat. Grilling, broiling, and pan-frying are suitable cooking methods.

Medallion or Noisette

Crosscut slices of the boneless loin are known as medallions or noisettes. They are best suited for rapid cooking methods such as sautéing or broiling and are often served with a sauce.

Lamb - Ribs

Ribs

Lamb ribs that will be grilled or barbecued are cut from the breast primal. The rib primal is reserved for tender rib chops and rib roasts. The meat of the breast primal can be a bit tough, so it is best to first marinate or braise the ribs cut from the breast before they are grilled or barbecued.

Spareribs

Spareribs are cut from the breast primal and usually come in large slabs. They contain more bone and fat than meat. They are very tasty when prepared by first braising or simmering in a seasoned liquid, then grilling or barbecuing.

Riblets

Lamb riblets are individual ribs separated from a slab of spareribs. They may be bone-in or boneless.

Denver Ribs

Spareribs that have been trimmed of all fat and connective tissue are known as a Denver ribs. They are best suited for braising, although they can be grilled if they are marinated first.

Lamb - Variety Meats

Variety Meats

Variety meats include some of the organs and extremities. Some lamb variety meats may be available in food stores, but most are available from a butcher or specialty meat market or may require special ordering. They are very perishable, so if they are not going to be used within 24 hours of purchasing, they should be frozen immediately.

Liver

Lamb liver is milder and sweeter than beef or pork liver, but it still has the characteristic liver taste. It is often pan-fried to achieve the best results. Lamb liver is loaded with vitamins and minerals and is a rich source of iron, but it is also very high in cholesterol.

Kidneys

Lamb kidneys are valued for their tenderness and mild flavor. For the best results, they should be grilled or roasted, but it is important to not overcook them. Lamb kidneys are low in fat, but very high in cholesterol.

Tongue

Tongue is usually braised for long periods to help tenderize the meat. They can be sliced and covered with the seasoned sauce that is produced as a result of the braising or they can be sliced and used as cold cuts for sandwiches.

Heart

The heart is best prepared with braising or stewing because of the toughness of the meat.

Lamb - Miscellaneous Cuts
Miscellaneous Cuts

Whole cuts and scraps of fresh lamb can be rolled, cubed, or ground in a food store or meat market into various products that add convenience for the consumer.

Rolled Boneless Shoulder

Boned shoulder is usually rolled and tied to maintain its shape, if it is to be roasted. This is an ideal cut for stuffing.

Rolled Boneless Breast

The whole breast is often boned and rolled into a roast. It is usually stuffed and braised.

Rolled Boneless Leg

This cut makes a compact and tidy roast when rolled (with or without stuffing) and tied or netted to keep its shape. It may also be butterflied (so-called because the deboned, flattened leg resembles a butterfly’s shape) for grilling.

Rolled Boneless Sirloin Half of Leg

The sirloin half of the rear leg, when boned and rolled, makes an ideal size (about two pounds) for four people.

Rolled Boneless Shank Half of Leg

The shank half of the rear leg can be boned, rolled, and tied to form a roast suitable for braising.

Kebab

Kebabs are cubes of meat, ideally free of fat, bone or connective tissue, usually meant to be grilled, as in shish kebab, souvlaki, or shaslik. Leg is the preferred cut for kebabs since it has large muscle areas which yield cubes free from gristle and bone, and is tender enough for grilling. Cubed shoulder meat is sometimes used for kebabs to be grilled, but since the shoulder is not as reliably tender as the leg, kebabs prepared with leg meat are a better choice for grilling.

Stew Meat

Stew meat is taken from lamb cuts and scraps that are too tough for dry heat cooking methods such as grilling or broiling, but become much more tender when stewed. Shoulder meat, trimmed of fat and connective tissue, is the best choice for stew. It is usually sold already cut into cubes, but a shoulder roast, boned or bone-in, can easily be chunked into stew pieces. Leg cubes are sometimes used for stew meat although this lean tender cut is less suitable for stew than the more flavorful shoulder.

Ground Lamb

Scraps of lamb meat from the breast and from the flank are often ground to produced lambburger, which is available in bulk packages or as pre-formed patties.

Lamb Shopping Guide

Selecting Cuts | Inspection and Grading | Look and Feel

Selecting Cuts

A successful outcome in cooking lamb depends on matching the recipe or cooking method with an appropriate cut of lamb. For example, if you plan to grill chops, you will get the best results using rib, loin or sirloin chops. If your recipe calls for chops to be marinated and then baked, shoulder chops are a much better choice. The following shopping guide will give you helpful suggestions in making your choices from the many lamb cuts that are available.

Lamb Chops

Lamb chops vary a lot in tenderness and flavor, depending on the section of the lamb from which they are cut. Chops can come from the shoulder, rib, loin or leg. Chops are usually sold bone-in and should have a clear pink-to-red color. Dark purplish red indicates mutton which is less tender and has a stronger flavor, but could be a good choice for a highly seasoned, long-cooking recipe that might overwhelm the milder taste of young lamb.

The most tender and expensive chops come from the rib and loin. The slightly fatter rib chops have a bit more flavor, but many people prefer the leanness of the loin chops. Rib and loin chops should be cooked quickly, using dry heat cooking methods such as grilling, broiling, or pan-broiling. They should not be overcooked - there should be some pink visible in the cooked meat. Rib and loin chops will be dry and tasteless if they are cooked until the center is gray. Rib and loin chops may be marinated for a very short time to add flavor, but long exposure to the acids in a marinade will cause the tender meat to become mushy. Rib and loin chops should be at least 3/4" thick, but 1" or more is ideal.

Shoulder chops are less tender and less expensive than rib or loin chops. They are also from a more complicated muscle, so there are several “sections” in a shoulder chop, with more fat and connective tissue, making it less elegant and “chop-like” in appearance. Shoulder chops can be tenderized by marinating or moist heat cooking and are the best choice for recipes calling for the meat to be baked, braised, or simmered with other ingredients, as in a curry.

Leg, or sirloin chops are larger, meatier and may be less tender than rib or loin chops, but are still a good choice for grilling or broiling. Leg steaks, cut from the center of the leg, can be used like leg chops. Both leg steaks and leg chops make good shish kebab cubes.

Lamb for Roasting

There are several lamb cuts that make good roasts. The leg and the shoulder are typically the larger roasts. The leg, boned or bone-in, whole or half, is the cut most commonly roasted. Leg roasts can be successfully cooked at low, medium or high temperatures. The whole shoulder can also be roasted, boned or bone-in. Boneless shoulder roasts are often stuffed with a zesty filling, then rolled and tied. Because shoulder cuts are not as reliably tender as the leg, they are usually slow cooked at low heat after an initial few minutes at high heat to brown the surface and destroy any surface bacteria.

The rib and loin areas provide small, tender, expensive roasts. The rack, or rib roast, is an elegant small roast, usually only large enough for two or three. It is usually roasted quickly, at high heat. Two racks may be joined end-to-end then curved into a circle and tied, to make a Crown Roast. Two racks can be joined side-by-side with the protruding rib-ends interlocked, to make a Guard of Honor.

A whole loin roast is somewhat larger and will usually serve four or five. A double-loin roast, or Saddle of Lamb, consists of the loin roast from both sides of the backbone, left in one piece. More exotic roasts, which would have to be special ordered, are the rear half of the lamb, known as the “Baron of Lamb”, and the front half of the lamb, known as the “Foresaddle”. These would usually be obtained from a small lamb weighing 20 pounds or so.

Lamb for Shish Kebab

Chunks of meat threaded on skewers, with or without other ingredients, and grilled over hot coals, has long been a favorite way to cook lamb. Kebab chunks are usually regular cubes, about 1 inch on a side, trimmed of fat and connective tissue. Irregular shaped pieces can be cooked this way as well, but they won’t cook as evenly. Some cooks enjoy the varying doneness this produces.

Whether you purchase meat precut or cut your own from larger pieces, the best cuts to use are shoulder and leg. Since kebabs are typically marinated prior to grilling, the somewhat tougher shoulder meat, tenderized by the marinade, is a good choice because it is economical and flavorful. Rib and loin cuts can be used, but they are very expensive. They may be marinated for a very short time to add flavor, but long exposure to the acids in a marinade will cause the tender meat to become mushy. Meat from the breast is too fat; neck or shank meat is too tough.

Lamb for Stewing or Braising

“Stew meat” can vary from tidy 1 1/2 inch cubes to small irregular bits left from trimming various cuts. To be sure of what you’re getting, buy a suitable cut, such as shoulder, neck or shank, and cut it into the size pieces you need. A pound of bone-in shoulder will be enough for three people; with the bony (but economical) neck or shank you’ll need about one pound per person. Leg meat is easy to cut into uniform shapes, but will not be as moist or flavorful as shoulder, neck or shank meat.

Shoulder, neck and shanks are also ideal for braising, as the long slow cooking dissolves the collagen (connective tissue) and makes a rich smooth sauce. Leg roasts are sometimes braised, although the result will be less flavorful than if using a shoulder roast. Loin and rib cuts are better prepared with a quick dry-heat method such as grilling or pan-broiling.

Inspection and Grading

USDA Inspection

The federal government inspects all American lamb that is sold commercially. Government inspection of lamb is mandatory and concentrates on the safety and wholesomeness of the meat and not necessarily the quality. Visual inspection for animal diseases is performed as well a number of scientific tests on a statistical sampling of the meat. The tests are used to determine if any biological or chemical contamination is present. The primary concern is for the safety of the consumer.

Quality Grading

The USDA grades lamb on the proportion of fat to lean and also on the texture, firmness, and color of the meat. The five USDA grades for lamb are: Prime, Choice, Good, Utility, and Cull. Most of the lamb available to the consumer is graded Choice or Prime. In fact, about 90% of American lamb is graded Choice or better.

Yield Grading

Lamb carcasses are also graded according to the ratio of lean to fat. A grade of 1 to 5 is given to a carcass based on the ratio. A yield grade of 1 is given to carcasses that yield the most meat and least amount of fat and a yield grade of 5 is given to carcasses with the lowest amount of usable meat.

Look and Feel

Cuts of lamb may vary in color from pink to light red but should always look fresh, not dull or slimy. The fat should be white and waxy looking. The bones should be reddish in color and moist looking, rather than dry. Some cuts may be all or partially covered with a silvery membrane, the “fell”, which may be removed or left on depending on the recipe being used.

When purchasing packaged fresh lamb in a food store, the packages should be cold and the meat should be firm. The packaging should be in good condition with no tears or holes in the wrapping.

Lamb that has dried out edges and does not smell fresh, should not be purchased. Lamb that has a slimy feel should be avoided. Excess liquid may indicate that the lamb is old or has been stored at the incorrect temperature. It may also indicate that the meat has been previously frozen. Lamb that has little excess liquid in the package is the best to purchase.

Lamb Preparation Guide

Thawing | Preparing a Rack of Lamb | Preparing a Crown Roast
Preparing a Guard of Honor | Boning and Butterflying a Leg of Lamb | Grinding

Thawing

Lamb that has been frozen should never be defrosted at room temperature because harmful bacteria may grow rapidly under such conditions. The best method for thawing lamb (or any other type of meat) is to place it in the refrigerator where it will defrost slowly and safely. A temperature range of 33ºF and 40ºF is ideal. A large cut of lamb may require 24 to 48 hours to defrost in the refrigerator. The meat should be placed on a plate or dish (to catch any juices that may drip from the thawing meat) and stored on the lowest shelf of the refrigerator.

If it is not practical to wait the required time for thawing lamb in the refrigerator, it is possible to defrost the meat in the microwave using the proper defrost setting, but this is definitely not recommended. Some microwave ovens may not defrost the meat evenly, which may allow some portions to become fully thawed while other areas may still be frozen. While waiting for the frozen areas to defrost, harmful bacteria may grow rapidly in the thawed areas of the meat. It is best to use small cuts or pieces of lamb, which are safer to defrost with this method than large cuts. Never use a normal cooking setting to defrost the meat. Lamb cuts should be cooked promptly after defrosting in the microwave and ground lamb must be cooked immediately after thawing. Microwave defrosting should be used only if necessary and should not be the thawing method of choice.
Note: Lamb that is not fully defrosted should not be cooked because the exterior of the lamb may become overdone before the interior has had a chance to cook to the proper temperature.

Note: When thawing lamb, it is easier to cut it into pieces for stew meat or kabobs before it is fully defrosted. After cutting, the lamb can then be refrigerated until it has fully thawed.

Fresh raw lamb, which has not been frozen, can be easily cut if it is placed in the freezer for a few minutes to firm it up.

Preparing a Rack of Lamb
A whole rib roast, or “rack of lamb” has seven or eight ribs. Although it may be cooked as is, it may also be “Frenched,” which means that the upper ends of the rib bones are trimmed (and often capped with decorative covers known as frills) creating one of the most distinctive cuts from the lamb carcass. One rack of lamb is usually large enough to serve three people.
Begin preparing the rack of lamb by making a cut on the fat side, perpendicular to the ribs, about 2 inches down from the rib ends. Cut through the fat down to the rib bones.

Turn the rack on end and push a knife through the flesh between each rib, using the initial cut as a guide for the knife.

Turn the rack so that the fat side is down and score the thin membrane covering the rib bones using a sharp knife.

Working from the fat side of the rack, push on the ends of the rib bones until they pop through the thin membrane.
After all of the bones have broken through the membrane, simply cut away the strip of meat from the rib ends.
The final step is to trim away some of the excess fat, leaving only a thin layer.
The rack of lamb is ready for seasoning and roasting.

Preparing a Crown Roast
Two or three racks of lamb can be combined end to end and then curved into a circle to make a “Crown Roast”. This is a special preparation of rack of lamb and may be available from some butchers without special ordering or the home cook can create it.
You will need at least two rib racks to create the crown roast. Use three racks to give the crown roast a rounder shape and to provide more servings.

After completing the steps in “Preparing a Rack of Lamb”, perform the following simple steps to create the crown roast.
Make a shallow cut in the flesh between each rib bone so that the rib racks will curve easily into the proper shape.

Bend each rack into a semicircle (meat side out and fat side in) and tie them together at the base, center, and top to hold the racks together. The rib ends should be pushed outward to create the look of a crown.

The finished preparation may be roasted as is, however many cooks prefer to place stuffing in the cavity.

As an option, gold colored frills or aluminum foil are often placed onto the ends of the rib bones to prevent the bones from scorching and to add a decorative touch.
Note: Be sure the chine bone (the remaining section of the back bone) has been removed before attempting to create the crown roast.

Preparing a Guard of Honor

A “Guard of Honor” is simply two racks of lamb that have been frenched, with the rib ends interlocked to resemble soldiers’ swords. This is another special preparation of rack of lamb that may require an advanced order from a butcher or the home cook can easily create it.

Begin the guard of honor by completing the steps in “Preparing a Rack of Lamb” and then perform the following steps.
Push two racks together to interlock the rib ends.
Tie the racks between every second or third rib to secure the racks together.
The guard of honor is fairly easy to prepare and makes an impressive dish for a special occasion.

Boning and Butterflying a Leg of Lamb
Only a few steps are required for boning and butterflying a leg of lamb, which makes it a relatively easy task for the home cook, however most butchers will do this for consumers who are not comfortable with attempting this at home.
Boning a Leg of Lamb

  1. Using a sharp knife, cut off some of the heavy fat layer from the outside of the leg.
  2. Run the knife around the curved hipbone that protrudes from the sirloin end (wide end) of the leg. Cut close to the bone to free the bone from the meat and connective tissues attached to it, which will allow the bone to be pulled out.
  3. On the shank end (narrow end) of the leg, run the knife around the shank bone to loosen the meat and tendons from the bone. Twist and pull the bone from the flesh.
  4. Follow the same procedure for removal of the upper leg bone in the sirloin end. Insert a knife into the cavity created by the removal of the hipbone and cut closely around the upper leg bone. When the meat and connective tissue are free from the bone, the bone can be removed from the flesh of the upper leg.

A leg of lamb that has been deboned is often cut in half to separate the sirloin and shank ends of the leg. The halves can be rolled and tied (as shown below) and sold as compact roasts.

Rolled and Tied Sirloin Roast Rolled and Tied Shank Roast

Butterflying a Boned Leg of Lamb

  1. The boned leg should be placed with the fat side down. Using a sharp knife, cut into the cavity, formed by the removal of the bones. Do not cut all the way through the meat. Excess fat and connective tissue should be trimmed.
  2. Spread out the leg as flat as possible and cut into the thickest areas, but do not cut all the way through the meat. This will result in the boned leg becoming flatter, with a more uniform thickness throughout.
  3. Skewers can be inserted through the meat to help keep it flat, resulting in meat that is more evenly cooked (especially when grilling).

Grinding

Ground lamb may be purchased from the butcher or food store or it can be prepared at home. You can purchase whole lamb cuts of your choice and grind it yourself, however the lamb should not be ground until you are ready to use it because ground meat deteriorates in quality rather quickly. Before the meat is ground, the fat and tendons should be removed. Several methods for producing ground lamb at home are described below.

Meat Grinder

A manual grinder can be used to grind meat as coarse or fine as you require. This method produces the most evenly ground meat. Some electric mixers also have attachments for grinding meat.

Food Processor

Chopping or grinding fresh lamb cuts is made easy with a food processor. Use the following steps for grinding lamb with this convenient tool:

  1. Cut the lamb into cubes before placing it into the food processor.
  2. The food processor should be pulsed on and off, which prevents the lamb cubes from becoming over-processed. Don’t allow the food processor to operate continuously.
  3. The meat should be stirred after several pulses to provide an even grind.
  4. The food processor will grind the lamb quickly so it can be easy to over-process the meat, resulting in ground lamb that has a pasty texture. The best results occur when the meat is ground just until the larger chucks are broken down into pieces that are no smaller than ¼ inch.

Manual Chopping

With the use of a sharp knife, lamb can be cut into cubes. It can then be cut into smaller pieces until the meat is the consistency that is desired. Manual chopping will provide firmer ground meat than any of the machine methods.

Lamb Handling, Safety & Storage

Contamination Prevention | Doneness | Proper Storage

Contamination Prevention

Shopping

Make sure that lamb is among the last items selected when shopping, so that it is without refrigeration for as short of time as possible. The growth of harmful bacteria on the meat will be accelerated if it is not properly refrigerated. If the meat is without refrigeration for more than an hour, because of the travel time from the market, a cooler with ice should be used to transport the meat, and any other perishable items, for the duration of the travel time.

Cleanliness

It is important to follow the basic rules of cleanliness when preparing lamb. Work surfaces, dishes, and utensils should be thoroughly washed with soap and hot water after using them. Bleach can be used as a disinfectant for cutting boards and other work surfaces or an antibacterial spray may be used. When taste testing food, do not use the same utensil that was used for preparation and be sure that a clean spoon or fork is used for each taste to eliminate the spread of germs. Beware of kitchen washcloths and towels that have been used on multiple surfaces because they can spread germs. Use paper towels or other disposable cloths whenever possible.

Cross Contamination

Many food items should be kept separate from each other during storage and preparation to prevent cross contamination. Never store ready to eat foods next to raw lamb or any other raw meat. Bacteria that may be present on the raw meat may contaminate the ready to eat foods.

During food preparation, it is very important to wash your hands often to help prevent the transfer of harmful bacteria from one food item to the next. For example, when handling raw meat, you should wash your hands thoroughly before chopping vegetables to reduce the risk of transferring bacteria from the meat to the vegetables.

If cutting boards are used in your kitchen, it is a good idea to use one for meats and a different one for fruits and vegetables. Cutting surfaces made from tempered glass are safer to use because you don’t have to worry about cracks and pores harboring bacteria as you do with wood or plastic surfaces. Tempered glass surfaces are also easy to clean. Regardless of the material they are made from, cutting surfaces should be thoroughly cleaned after each use.

The knife that was used to cut raw lamb should not be used to chop vegetables unless the knife has been thoroughly washed first. When serving cooked meat, do not place it on the plate that contained the raw meat.

Safety and Handling Tips

* Make sure that any juices from raw lamb do not come in contact with any other food items. Packaged raw lamb can be placed on a plate in the refrigerator to ensure that none of the juices drip onto any other food items in case that there is a leak in the package.
* Frozen cuts of lamb should always be thawed in the refrigerator and never on the countertop.
* Raw lamb that has been thawed should be used as soon as possible. It should never be refrozen because this increases the risk of food poisoning when the meat is finally used.
* Lamb that has been ground, cut into chunks for stew or kabobs, or cut into strips for stir-fry is much more perishable than larger cuts of lamb. This is because there is more exposed surface area, which increases the risk for bacterial growth.
* If lamb has been marinated, the marinade should be discarded because of its contact with the raw meat.
* Do not allow lamb to reach room temperature before it is cooked, as this can promote the growth of harmful bacteria. Lamb, like most other meats, should be cooked as soon as possible after its removal from refrigeration.
* Leftovers should be placed in the refrigerator or freezer as soon as the meal is over. Lamb should not be away from refrigeration longer than 2 hours after cooking. Cooked food left at room temperature for more than two hours should be discarded.
* When eating outdoors, food should not be consumed that has been without refrigeration for more than an hour, especially in hot weather. Always have a cooler with ice handy.

Safety Tips for Ground Lamb

When a cut of meat is ground, the entire cut is exposed to the air and the grinding equipment. It is also blended with the bacteria that may have been on the surface of the meat before grinding. This makes it extremely important to cook the ground meat thoroughly to kill all of the bacteria that may be present. An interior temperature of at least 160°F is required to make ground lamb safe to eat.

Other ground lamb safety tips to consider are:

* Frozen ground lamb should be defrosted in the refrigerator and never at room temperature.
* Ground lamb should be cooked as soon as possible after it is defrosted.
* Ground lamb patties should not be cooked unless they have fully thawed. A frozen or partially frozen patty will not cook evenly and the center will not cook to the proper temperature even though the outside may be completely cooked.
* Ground lamb should be purchased before or on the "sell by" date or "last date of sale" and then used within 2 days of purchasing.
* It is recommended that ground lamb dishes such as meatloaf and moussaka be checked for doneness with a meat thermometer. This is especially important when the lamb has been blended with dark sauces that can mask the color of the meat, making it difficult to determine if any pink color remains, which would indicate that the meat is not fully cooked.

Doneness

Traditional guidelines state that lamb cooked very rare, rare, or medium rare should have an internal temperature ranging between 115ºF to 140°F. With increased concern over bacteria that may be present in the internal portions of meat, it is now recommended that whole lamb cuts be cooked to an internal temperature of not less than 140°F, even though bacteria is usually only on the surface of the meat. (An increase in the temperature of at least 5ºF will occur during the resting period, reaching 145ºF, which is considered the minimum safe internal temperature.) Traditionally, cooking lamb to 140ºF was considered medium doneness, but updated guidelines would place it in the medium-rare category. Regardless of the category the doneness is referred to, lamb cooked to this temperature is still pink in the center, juicy, and tender, but considered much safer than cooking it to a lesser degree of doneness. Searing lamb on the stovetop before roasting is also a good method of killing surface bacteria as well as creating a flavorful browned crust.

Bacteria, such as E. coli, may be present on any cut of lamb, but it is most common on ground lamb because the grinding process may distribute the bacteria throughout the meat. Ground lamb must be cooked until the internal temperature reaches a minimum of 160°F to ensure that dangerous bacteria are destroyed.

Proper Storage

Refrigerator / Freezer

Most cuts of lamb can be safely stored in the refrigerator at temperatures between 33°F and 40°F for 2 or 3 days. They can be stored in a freezer with a temperature of 0°F or less for 6 to 9 months. Refrigerated ground lamb should be used within 1 or 2 days and can be stored in the freezer for up to 4 months. Leftover cooked lamb that is refrigerated should be used within 3 or 4 days and can be frozen for up to 3 months.

Lamb should be stored in the coldest part of the refrigerator until it is ready to use. Lamb that will not be used within a few days should be stored in the freezer. If the lamb will be frozen for only 1 or 2 weeks, it can be stored in its original packaging, however if it requires long-term freezer storage, it should be rewrapped with heavy-duty protection to prevent freezer burn.

Freezer Burn

Freezer burn causes lamb to become discolored and dehydrated. This is because exposure to the cold, dry air of the freezer compartment can cause moisture loss, especially if the lamb is packaged incorrectly and/or stored in the freezer for an excessive length of time. A layer of plastic wrap followed by a layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil works well as protection against freezer burn. Heavy white freezer paper is another alternative for protecting the meat. It is important to note that freezing lamb may affect its flavor, texture, and appearance when it is finally thawed and cooked, and in some cases, there may be a noticeable difference between fresh and frozen.

Vacuum Packaging

A storage method that works well for fresh or frozen lamb is vacuum packaging. It helps to keep lamb fresh for longer periods if properly refrigerated or frozen. The vacuum packaged is usually made from plastic bags. The cut of lamb is placed inside the bag, the air is removed creating a vacuum in the bag, and then the bag is sealed to maintain the vacuum. Lamb that is frozen for long-term storage in vacuum packages (or other types of packaging) can be dated so that it can be used within the proper time limit: up to 9 months for raw lamb cuts, 4 months for ground lamb, and 3 months for any type of cooked leftovers.

Lamb Tips and Techniques

Shopping | Roasting | Grilling and Broiling | Sautéing
General Safety and Handling | Ground Lamb Safety and Handling | Nutrition

Shopping

* When shopping for lamb, select lean cuts and use low fat cooking methods such as roasting, broiling, grilling, braising, or stewing.
* When purchasing packaged fresh lamb in a food store, the packages should be cold and the meat should be firm. The packaging should be in good condition with no tears or holes in the wrapping.
* Lamb that has dried out edges and does not smell fresh, should not be purchased. Lamb that has a slimy feel should be avoided.
* Excess liquid may indicate that the lamb is old or has been stored at the incorrect temperature. It may also indicate that the meat has been previously frozen. Lamb that has little excess liquid in the package is the best to purchase.
* Cuts of lamb may vary in color from pink to light red but should always look fresh, not dull or slimy. The fat should be white and waxy looking. The bones should be reddish in color and moist.
* If you plan to grill lamb chops, you will get the best results if you choose rib, loin, or sirloin chops. If your recipe calls for chops to be marinated and then baked, shoulder chops are a much better choice.

Roasting

* Roasting at high heat for the entire cooking time maximizes the brown crusty surface, but this method shouldn't be used on large pieces of lamb because the surface will dry out and may burn before the interior is done.
* Roasting at moderate heat maximizes juiciness and minimizes shrinkage. Leg roasts are often cooked this way.
* An alternative method for roasting lamb is to begin with a temperature of 425ºF - 450ºF for an initial 10 - 15 minutes to brown the meat and then continue cooking at 325ºF to the desired doneness.
* To prevent lean cuts from drying out while cooking, the meat may be rubbed with oil prior to roasting and/or basted with pan juices during roasting.
* The only reliable guide for making sure that a lamb roast has reached a particular stage of doneness, is with the use of an accurate meat thermometer. The meat thermometer should be inserted into the meatiest part, not into fat or against a bone. It's a good idea to plan where you'll insert the thermometer as you prepare the roast.
* Although the fat keeps the meat moist and tender during the roasting process, it can be trimmed before serving because it is not very flavorful and is actually quite unpleasant after it has cooled.

Grilling and Broiling

* Meat for grilling or broiling should be tender, fairly lean, and not too thick, since it needs to cook quickly. Lamb cuts that are good choices for grilling or broiling include chops, tenderloin, kebabs, and patties of ground lamb. Legs to be grilled are often butterflied, to provide a more uniform thickness.
* When grilling or broiling, thinner cuts of lamb can be closer to the heat source than thicker cuts, since the thicker cut will require more time to cook.
* If a thicker cut of lamb is too close to the heat source, the surface will char before the interior is cooked to the proper degree of doneness.
* In either grilling or broiling, meat should be turned when it's half-done, using tongs to avoid puncturing the meat.

Sautéing

* Lamb for sautéing should be tender and not more than an inch thick.
* When sautéing lamb, it is important that the meat surface is dry so that when it is placed into the pan, it browns rather than steams.
* When sautéing, the pan should not be crowded; cook in small batches if necessary.

General Safety and Handling

* Make sure that lamb is among the last items selected when shopping, so that it is without refrigeration for as short of time as possible.
* Make sure that any juices from raw lamb do not come in contact with any other food items. Packaged raw lamb can be placed on a plate in the refrigerator to ensure that none of the juices drip onto any other food items in case that there is a leak in the package.
* Frozen cuts of lamb should always be thawed in the refrigerator and never on the countertop.
* Raw lamb that has been thawed should be used as soon as possible. It should never be refrozen because this increases the risk of food poisoning when the meat is finally used.
* Lamb that has been ground, cut into chunks for stew or kabobs, or cut into strips for stir-fry is much more perishable than larger cuts of lamb. This is because there is more exposed surface area, which increases the risk for bacterial growth.
* If lamb has been marinated, the marinade should be discarded because of its contact with the raw meat.
* Do not allow lamb to reach room temperature before it is cooked, as this can promote the growth of harmful bacteria. Lamb, like most other meats, should be cooked as soon as possible after its removal from refrigeration.
* Leftovers should be placed in the refrigerator or freezer as soon as the meal is over. Lamb should not be away from refrigeration longer than 2 hours after cooking. Cooked food left at room temperature for more than two hours should be discarded.
* When eating outdoors, food should not be consumed that has been without refrigeration for more than an hour, especially in hot weather. Always have a cooler with ice handy.
* Traditional guidelines state that lamb cooked very rare, rare, medium rare, or medium should have an internal temperature ranging between 115ºF to 145°F. With increased concern over bacteria that may be present in the internal portions of lamb , it is now recommended that whole lamb cuts be cooked to a final internal temperature (after resting) of not less than 145°F.

Ground Lamb Safety and Handling

* Frozen ground lamb should be defrosted in the refrigerator and never at room temperature.
* Ground lamb should be cooked as soon as possible after it is defrosted.
* Ground lamb patties should not be cooked unless they have fully thawed. A frozen or partially frozen patty will not cook evenly and the center will not cook to the proper temperature even though the outside may be completely cooked.
* Ground lamb should be purchased before or on the "sell by" date or "last date of sale" and then used within 2 days of purchasing.
* It is recommended that ground lamb dishes such as meatloaf and moussaka be checked for doneness with a meat thermometer. This is especially important when the lamb has been blended with dark sauces that can mask the color of the meat, making it difficult to determine if any pink color remains, which would indicate that the meat is not fully cooked.

Nutrition

* Careful inspection of lamb in the United States makes it safe to eat. Because of strict codes, there is little concern that lamb provided to the consumer will be infected with animal diseases which may be harmful to humans.
* It is recommended that no more than 300 mg. of cholesterol per day should be consumed, so 2 or 3 servings of lean lamb per day allows plenty of room before reaching the maximum recommended level.
* Trimming the excess fat is helpful in reducing saturated fat and cholesterol, however doing this before the lamb is cooked can make it tougher and less flavorful, especially if the meat is broiled, roasted, or grilled.
* It is usually preferable to trim the fat after cooking because the fat layer protects the meat from drying out during the cooking process. Some of the fat melts during cooking and is absorbed into the meat. This acts as a natural tenderizer, but also adds some saturated fat and cholesterol to the meat.
* If the fat layer is left on, it should not be consumed, because it is not very flavorful on its own and is actually quite unpleasant after it has cooled.

Great. I learned a lot about lamb.
Thanks.

You’re very welcomed! And I am glad that it was useful for you!

Kitchen Witch