Good Question: How Do I Cook Tender Lamb?

Whitney needs some advice on cooking lamb. Can you help? She writes:

We've been trying to eat more sustainably, and to that end, bought a butchered half lamb. The only problem is, it's very stringy. I love my lamb rare, but wow, the chops and steaks are too tough to do that. Any suggestions for what to do with the remaining steaks and chops? We already have some ground lamb, so I'd like to hear of recipes that don't require grinding it all up (if possible).

Whitney, we'll just make a couple brief comments and then throw this out to the readers. First off, lamb is not the best sort of meat to eat rare. It simply doesn't have the right texture to eat bloody rare, like you would a steak. Some might disagree with this, but while I like my steak very rare and even my pork quite pink, I always cook lamb to medium. I like a streak of pink running through the center, but a little more cooking does help the meat relax. I think that some cooks react to terribly overdone lamb, gray and chewy, by radically undercooking the meat. But a light medium is really where I think lamb is best enjoyed.

Having said that, one of my very favorite recipes for lamb is actually a stir-fry! It's an old recipe from Mark Bittman that calls for cutting the lamb into very small pieces then stir-frying it quickly with whole cumin. I love it spicy and served over rice. Here's the recipe:

Recipe Review: The Minimalist's Mongolian Lamb

Here are two more recipes that would also probably be very good with your bounty of lamb.

Recipe: Roasted Lamb Chops and Mushrooms - Cooked in foil packets, which helps keep the lamb moist and tender — a low-key marriage of roasting and braising, if you will.
Recipe: Lamb Ragú - Easy and great for making ahead and freezing.

Readers, any more suggestions?

Related: Lamb Tips and Recipe: Adobo Crusted Lamb Loin Chop

(Image: Faith Durand)

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