Though lamb cuts do not usually need tenderizing the fragrant of the meat is intensified by slow cooking it is enjoyed around the world in a wealth of pot-roasts, casseroles, stews, tagines, curries and braised dishes.
Buying and storing:
Lamb comes from animals that are less than a year old; spring lamb comes from animals that are between five and seven months old. Meat from older sheep is known as mutton and has a darker colour and stronger flavor; it is rarely available. Look for firm, slightly pink lamb with a fine-grained texture. The younger the animal, the paler the meat. The fat should be creamy white, firm and waxy. Avoid any meat that looks dark,, dry or grainy.
Lamb should be kept covered on a low shelf in the refrigerator. Pre-packed meat can be left in its packaging and used by the date given on the packed. When buying loose meat, steks and chops will keep for 2-3 days, while larger joints will keep for up to 5 days.
Left: Tender chump chops are good pan-fried, grilled or braised.
Cuts of lamb:
The lean, tender prime cuts are taken from the top of the lamb along the middle of the back and areoften grilled (broiler), fried or roasted. However, they may also be cooked using slow, moist methods. Tougher cuts from the neck and lower legs respond well to slow to slow cooker methods.
Breast: This inexpensive cut is fairly fatty and is often served boned and rolled, sometimes with stuffing. It can be braised in the slow cooker, but trim off the visible fat.
Chops and cutlets: chump or loin chops and leg chops are thick tender chops. Best-end chops or cutlets and middle neck cutlets are thinner and should be trimmed of fat before slow cooking.
Leg: This is the prime roasting joint and is often divided into two pieces; the knuckle or shank end, and the leg fillet. The shank is a flavourful cut and is good pot-roasted or gently braised. A small leg of lamb may be Above: Tender noisettes cut from the rolled, boned loin pot-roasted on the bone in a large (top) are better suited to quick cooking techniques, while or oval slow cooker, or it can be boned lamb cutlets (bottom) are great for braised dishes. and stuffed. It may also be cut into leg steaks or cubed.
Middle neck and scrag end: Relatively cheap and made tender by long, slow cooking, these are used in dishes such as Lancashire hot-pot and Irish stew.
Saddle of lamb: Also called a double loin of lamb, this tender roasting joint is too big to cook in a slow cooker.
Shoulder: This roasting joint from the forequarter is fattier than the leg, so should be trimmed before pot-roasting on or off the bone. Boneless shoulder can be cubed for casseroles.