Traditional lamb chops come from the rib, loin, sirloin and shoulder of the animal. Shoulder chops (also called blade and arm chops) require a shorter amount of cooking time than other cuts, making them an economical and flavorful choice for quick and easy meals. Leg of lamb is a traditional favorite and is available bone in, boneless and boneless butterflied. Shanks are a cold weather favorite and they are delicious braise low and slow. Ground lamb is growing in popularity and provides burger lovers’ with a great alternative.
Sirloin or Leg of Lamb
These most popular cuts of lamb can be purchased bone-in, boneless, rolled and tied, or butterflied. The leg is sometimes sliced into thick lamb sirloin steaks. Great for grilling, the leg meat is so tender and juicy it is ideal for dry heat cooking or roasting, but also stays moist and delicious after long, slow braising.
These very tender cuts can be roasted whole. It may also be cut into shoulder chops or cubes for slow-braised casseroles or tasty kabobs.
Rack of Lamb
This cut is a very popular restaurant dish, is very easy to prepare at home. When all of the meat is trimmed from the end of the bones, whole rack or individual rib chops cut from the rack, it is called frenched. A crown roast is created by bending two or more whole rib sections into a circular shape and tying securely.
Sometimes referred to as the saddle, the loin is an elegant cut that can be served in a number of ways. It can be sliced into boneless chops or distinctive T-bone chops, or as a boneless loin roast.
From either the fore or hind legs, shanks are best when cooked slowly by a moist heat method. This includes braising, slow-cooker or in casseroles, to yield moist, mouthwatering and fork-tender meat.
Great ways to serve California Lamb
California lamb, with its delicate flavor and succulent texture, is a versatile meat both in terms of the number of cuts available and its affinity to a wide range of flavors. Its wonderfully mild flavor is enhanced by a myriad of herbs, spices and marinades. This makes it a perfect fit for today’s trend toward more flavorful and healthful ethnic dishes.
Serve medium rare for the meat’s best and most delicate, succulent qualities.
When it comes to outdoor grilling season, lamb is a perfect choice whether you are preparing a quick weekday meal or entertaining family and friends.
California lamb makes great kebabs. Just divide one of the less expensive cuts such as sirloin or shoulder into 1-inch cubes and coat with a favorite marinade. Let it stand in the refrigerator for 8 to 24 hours to add a flavor boost to every bite. Then thread onto skewers with red bell pepper, red onion, and fresh mushrooms. A couscous salad will complete the meal.
A boneless butterflied leg of lamb, or even a whole leg, because of the variation in thickness of the meat will provide different degrees of doneness for a crowd with different preferences.
For a robust flavor of the Mediterranean, marinate a butterflied lamb leg in olive oil seasoned with fresh lemon juice, crushed garlic, and fresh rosemary. Salt and pepper before grilling.
For an Asian flavor, baste the lamb with hoisin sauce while grilling.
Slice cooked lamb very thin and serve in soft flour tortillas with shredded scallions and cucumber for a new take on Chinese crispy pancakes.
Marinate lamb cutlets in herbs and red wine, grill and served tapas style accompanied by kalamata olives, roasted red peppers, sun dried tomatoes, grilled slices of eggplant, and crumbled feta cheese.
A savory fresh peach salsa makes grilled lamb steaks very special.
For a gourmet burger, salt and pepper ground lamb and add minced garlic, onion, bell pepper and parsley. Grill until no pink shows in center (medium rare 145°F). Serve on focaccia rolls brushed with olive oil or aioli sauce and top with crumbled feta cheese, sliced tomatoes and red onions!