Use the Cuts of Lamb guide to learn about the different joints and cuts of lamb available and help you decide the best match for the recipe you want to cook. Different parts of the animal are better suited for different recipes and cooking methods. The most tender cuts will be good for frying and grilling, others will be at their best when slow cooked by braising or in a stew. Remember that many of the value cuts deliver the richest and deepest flavours; longer cooking breaks down the denser fibres creating tender meat in a thicker delicious sauce or gravy.
During the animal’s life different parts of the body will develop in different ways depending on the amount of work they do. This means that individual cuts will have differing proportions of muscle, fat and connective tissues. For example, those that have worked the hardest, such as the neck (which is constantly moving about as the animal grazes), will build up more fibre and sinew.
Neck of Lamb – Often known as “Scrag End”, this bony part of the neck when cut into thick slice is ideal for slow cooking releasing incredibly tasty flavours. The Neck Fillet also come from this section of the lamb but the muscles have been taken off the bone, again stew or braise until tender. Both of these cuts are fairly underrated and as a result inexpensive.
Shoulder of Lamb – Lamb shoulder is usually sold whole or halved on the bone. This part of the animal has worked hard so is better for slow roasting to break down any fibres to be really tender. Shoulder is also sold boned and rolled for roasting or diced for casseroles, curries or stewing. Mince is also taken from this section.
Best End Of Lamb Neck – This area 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”.
Lamb Cutlets - 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 excellent for pan frying or grilling.
Lamb Loin - This section provides Loin Chops for grilling or frying. A Barnsley Chop is double the size as it uses both sides of the animal. Off the bone this cut provides Noisettes or in one piece a Cannon. These are all very tender and will cook quickly. The whole loin, both sides of the Lamb roasted as a piece, is known as a Saddle of Lamb, this is a large joint for 8-10 people.
Lamb Chump – This is on the lower back of the animal where the loin meets the leg. From here you can get Chump Chops and Chump Steaks and as a whole piece off the bone, 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 delicious roast. For grilling, frying or the BBQ, Leg of lamb is often sold as Leg Steaks, stir-fry strips, or diced for kebabs. A leg of lamb that has been “Butterflied” is a boned leg opened up into a large flat piece, this can also be roasted or grilled.
Lamb Shank – A recently popular cut with chefs, the lamb shank comes from the lower leg. As a harder working part of the animal, this needs slow cooking or braising. When cooked in this manner it will become extremely tender and fall off the bone.
Lamb Breast – This is the belly area of the Lamb. This is usually sold as a rolled joint for roasting. It is a quite 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.
Kidneys – Overlooked by many, lamb kidneys are sweet and tasty nuggets, just make sure you buy them extremely fresh and prepare them properly.
First peel off the white membrane (the butcher may have already done this), then cut the kidney in half (so that you have two, long flat sides). Using a pair of good kitchen scissors or a small sharp knife, remove the fatty white bit in the middle – take your time so that you do not lose too much flesh. You can then cook the kidneys – either sauté them in butter or cut them into small pieces and add to a casserole.
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Last edited on mlMay 2nd, 2015