Ingredient Spotlight

Lamb for Dinner! Buying, Spicing, and Cooking Tasty Lamb

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Lamb can be a tough sell for many people. Between its reputedly strong flavor and not quite knowing how to cook it, we pass it over for more familiar cuts. But it’s worth giving lamb a chance because when it’s done right, a plate of tender flavorful lamb is a beautiful thing. When is the last time you had lamb for dinner?

You cook cuts of lamb just as you would any other meat. The most tender cuts are the lamb chops and these can be quickly cooked on the stovetop like pork chops or steaks. Leg of lamb and lamb shoulder are tougher cuts of meat and are best either roasted or braised slowly over the course of an afternoon. Rack of lamb also does best roasted in the oven.

Much of the “gamey” flavor that people talk about with lamb comes from the fat. Some people love this, others…not so much. If you’re in the “not so much” camp, it can help to trim away as much of the fat from the exterior of the meat as possible. I also find that I like the flavor of lamb when it’s cooked to medium or even medium-well, when it’s just barely pink in the middle.

If you’re new to lamb, try mixing ground lamb with some ground beef to make meatballs or burgers. This is an easy way to prepare lamb for the first time and helps introduce you to its flavor in a familiar context.

Since the meat is so rich and flavorful, I like it best when seasoned with herbs and spices that add some brightness and contrast. There are some classic flavor companions to lamb, like mint and lemon zest. Warming spices like cinnamon and black pepper bring out lamb’s cozier side. Lamb also does well with fruits like pomegranates, apricots, and plums.

What are your favorite lamb recipes?

(Image: Bernd Juergens/Shutterstock)

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