We’ve teamed up with Craft Butchers to find out all about meat. Yes, MEAT. This month, we’re talking lamb. Read on to find out all about lamb, what cut to use and how to cook it.
When buying from your local Craft Butcher you can be sure of the integrity of the cut unlike the factory packed products you get in many supermarkets.
The big advantage quality Craft Butchers have is that the Craft Butchers are highly skilled and trained and know exactly the source of every product in their butcher shop.
Butchers love to talk about meat; talk to your local Craft Butcher, ask them to share with you the many recipes and tips they have learned over their countless years behind the butcher counter. They’ll be able to offer you far more than pre-packaged cuts. You can buy the exact quantity of meat you require and can buy forgotten “value cuts” like pork belly, ham hock and shoulder of lamb.
The Best Butchers Cuts
Neck of Lamb
When cut into thick slices this bony part of the neck (known sometimes as Scrag End) is very tasty and good for slow cooking. Also, from this section are Neck Fillets – the same muscles but taken off the bone. Stew or braise until tender. Both these cuts are often underrated and as a result inexpensive.
Shoulder of Lamb
Lamb shoulder is usually sold whole, halved on the bone or as chops. This part of the animal has worked hard so is better for slow roasting; this breaks down any fibres which make it very tender. Shoulder is also sold boned and rolled for roasting or diced for casseroles, curries or stewing. Minced lamb is also taken from this section of the animal.
Best End of Lamb (Best End), Rack of Lamb
A roast rack of lamb is the perfect dinner party roast; it is easy to carve and makes an attractive dinner table centre piece. This section produces some of the most tender cuts of lamb. Best End is the first eight ribs which are known as “The Rack”. The Rack can be cut in several ways. If the ends of the bones are exposed after the fat has been trimmed away it is termed “French Trimmed”. Two racks roasted together with the bones intertwined are known as a “Guard of Honour”. A rack of Lamb can also be trimmed and tied into a circle to form a “Crown of Lamb” – a most impressive roast to serve at your table.
Cutting between the rib bones produces Lamb Cutlets. Meat from this same section taken off the bone makes a “Valentine Steak”. Both of these are good for pan frying or grilling.
This portion provides Loin Chops for grilling or frying. Off the bone, this section provides Noisettes or in one pieces a Cannon. These are all very tender and will cook quickly. The whole loin, both sides of the lamb roasted as a piece, is a very splendid joint known as a Saddle of Lamb this is a large joint for 8 or 10 people.
At the lower back of the animal where the loin meets the leg is known as the Chump. From here you can get Chump Chops and Chump Steaks. As a whole piece off the bone this is called a Chump Joint. All these are good for grilling and BBQ but can also be delicious if baked slowly in the oven.
Leg of Lamb
Whole, half or boned Leg of Lamb will make a perfect roast. For grilling and frying or the BBQ Leg of Lamb is often sold as Leg Steaks, stir fry strips, or cubed for kebabs. A leg of lamb that has been ‘Butterflied”’ is a boned leg opened up into a large flat piece which has a rough butterfly shape. This too can be roasted or grilled.
The lower leg from this section is Lamb Shank. As a harder working part of the animal this needs slow cooking or braising. Full of flavour it will become very tender and fall off the bone when cooked in this way, an affordable option.
This is the belly area of the lamb. This is usually sold as a rolled joint for roasting. It is quite a fatty cut but when slow cooked this melts away to leave a tender and very tasty meat. This is one of the best value, least expensive cuts.
Do not be afraid to ask your local Craft Butcher about their lamb. Craft Butchers are experts and will know the history of their meat from farm to fork; Craft Butchers take huge pride in having full product knowledge and just love to share this with their customers. Your Craft Butcher can talk to you about the many different cuts available, cuts that are more affordable and which may be more suitable and creative for that very special occasion. Your Craft Butcher will also show you how to make the most of your meat with correct cooking instructions and beautiful matching recipes.
Look for lamb that has that has little excess liquid on the tray; cuts of lamb may vary in colour 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 colour and moist.
Want to cook some lamb tonight? Check out our recipes here