A Guide to Choose and Cook Various Cuts of Lamb

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Let it be the feast of the eyes – the tantalizing Lamb Ribs at Tony Roma’s. Lamb or mutton be like, sometimes we get confused with the culinary terms. To set things right, here are the guides.

Lamb or Mutton?

First off, ‘lamb’ is the meat of a sheep under one year old while ‘mutton’ is the tougher meat of an adult sheep.

Taste the Difference

The livelihood condition of any living farm animal will have a direct effect on the meat quality. Therefore a farm that allows sheeps to roam freely, without stress and away from pollution will always be superior in taste. Lamb is a versatile meat that can be cooked in a variety of ways to produce an array of superbly tasty recipes.

Familiarizing with the various Retail Cuts

A bird’s eye view perspective:

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Zooming into the details:

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How to Choose and Cook Various Cuts?

Buyer’s Guide

Choose the leanest cuts with firm, creamy-white fat. Avoid cuts with excessive fat or with fat that looks crumbly, brittle and yellowish: this means the meat is old.

Lamb bones should be pink or reddish in colour and moist looking, rather than dry. The rib bones from the middle of the carcass are good examples of this. Known to the butcher as ‘cherry ribs’, they are bright pink when the lamb is young. As the animal gets older, the bones lose their pinkness and become whiter.

Look for joints that are plump and nicely rounded with an almost dry skin, but not dried out or patchy from over-exposure.

The colour of fresh lamb varies according to age and pasture. The colour varies from pink to light red but should always look fresh, not dull or slimy. It should be bright, moist (but not overly wet) and brownish-pink (not too red or bloody). Look for pale-pink flesh in a very young lamb, to a light- or dark-red colour in an older animal.

The fat should be firm, dry, white, waxy looking and slightly crumbly (not at all yellow).

Some cuts may be all or partially covered with a silvery/white papery 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.

Storage Guide

Ensure that the fridge maintains a temperature below 4°C. Always store meat in the coldest part – the bottom shelf – of the fridge.

In general, mince, offal and small cuts of lamb are best eaten on the day you buy them or within one to two days. Joints, chops and steaks will keep for two to three days and large roasting joints up to five days. Leaner cuts last longer than fatty cuts because fat goes rancid before meat does.

Quickly freezing lamb reduces the chance of damage to the texture or succulence of the meat. Don’t freeze lamb for more than six months.

Preparation Guide

Large cuts of lamb are often covered in a silvery/white papery membrane that should be removed before cooking.

Any cut of lamb can be braised or pot-roasted, and this method also works equally well for mutton. Stewed and braised lamb should be cooked gently in a liquid such as wine, stock or tomato juice. This method guarantees that the meat will stay moist and tender, and the cooking liquid can be served as gravy.

A General Rule of Thumb

Different cuts of meat require different ways of cooking.

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Various lamb cuts according to demand:

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Click here to browse lamb recipes.

Source

1. Louisa Carter “Lamb Recipes“, Food Ingredients – BBC.co.uk

2. “Lamb Shopping Guide“, Recipetips.com

3. “The Meat-Guide: Lamb“, Deliciousmagazine.co.uk

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