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Cuts of Lamb

 

As with most large animals, different parts of the carcass are more suitable for different cooking methods. This is due to several factors for example the amount of fat or sinew plus the amount of work the area has been put to throughout the animal's life: the parts of its body which are used frequently build up connective tissue and tend to be tougher e.g. the neck which is constantly moved about in order to the animal to graze.

 

Unfortunately, the closure of many butchers shops has meant that people no longer know which part of the animal they are buying apart from the generic "stewing steak"  or roasting joint.  However, if you are lucky enough to still have a good butchers or farmers market nearby, then  asking for a particular cut  can lessen the chance of incorrect cooking.

 

Below is a guide to the various cuts of Lamb. These may vary from country to country with different butchering techniques.

 

Description (alphabetically)

 

Breast

This cut is one of the cheapest cuts and whilst the price is similar to scrag end,  but is much more versatile. It can be roasted on the bone,  boned, stuffed and rolled, or when well trimmed, can be used for mince, burgers or skewers (kebabs). Some butchers also sell this cut in strips which are ideal for barbecues.

Suggested recipe: Apricot Stuffed Lamb
 

Flank

Unlike other cuts from the loin area, the flank is much tougher and is usually sold as mince.

Suggested recipe:  Shepherd's Pie

 

Foreshank

Also known as Lamb shanks, this cut is suitable for slow roasting, stewing and braising. It has become very popular in recent years especially when braised when a whole shank with the bone is served per person.  It is a very flavourful cut of meat.

Suggested recipe:  Lamb Shank Tagine

 

Leg

This is a prime cut with little fat which is excellent for roasting as a joint. It is often cut into lamb steaks suitable for frying or grilling or into cubes for lean kebabs.

Suggested recipe: Turkish Lamb Kebabs

 

Loin

The loin is the most tender part of the lamb. It is from this area that loin chops come from as well as medallions, noisettes as well as roasting cuts. Suitable for roasting although the joints tend to be small unless you have a whole saddle which is made up of a double loin roast, from both sides of the backbone.  Frying and grilling are excellent for the smaller cuts.

Suggested recipe:  Lamb with Green Butter Balls

 

Neck

This is one of the tougher cuts and is generally sold as Stewing lamb or made into mince (ground) meat.  When sold in pieces it is only suitable for very long, slow, moist cooking. Although tough the flavour is very good so well worth the extra cooking.  Best End of neck is traditionally used for Lancashire Hotpot.

Suggested recipe:  Lancashire Hotpot
 

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Rack

A "rack of lamb" is the name given to the whole rib section on either side of the backbone between the shoulder and the loin. A tender and flavoursome cut, it is also expensive and it is suitable for dry heat cooking such as roasting or grilling. This cut has a layer of fat which, although it can be trimmed down, is best left on when roasting as it melts and bastes the meat during cooking. Racks are often "Frenched" which means that the upper ends of the rib bones are scraped clean of meat and fat thereby exposing the bones which sometimes have paper frills popped over the top. Once frenched, it can be used to create a "Crown" where two racks are tied together to form a circle, the middle of which is then stuffed or a "Guard of honour" where the two sides of the rack are stood vertically with the bare bones uppermost and rib ends interlocked to resemble soldiers' swords. Racks are not large pieces: one rack of lamb is usually large enough to serve three people.

Suggested recipe:  Parsleyed Rack of Lamb

 

Scrag

Also known as scrag end or neck end, this is one of the tougher cuts and is therefore one of the cheaper ones. The meat from this area is often more fatty than other cuts and is usually sold chopped or diced for use in stews and casseroles.

Suggested recipe:  Lamb Paprikash

 

Shoulder

Shoulder is often sold as two separate joints, blade and arm (knuckle). The whole shoulder is also sometimes called "square cut" which consists of the arm, blade, and rib bones. Suitable for roasting, shoulder is a relatively expensive cut, even more so if you buy it boned and rolled although adding a stuffing before rolling makes it more economical. Many cooks prefer to buy it this way as the structure of the bones in the joint can make carving difficult. Shoulder meat is also often trimmed of fat and sold as cubes for curries, kebabs and casseroles. Shoulder chops are suitable for pan-frying, grilling or braising.

Suggested recipe:  Lamb Dopiazah

 

 

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