Lamb is the meat from young sheep that are less than one year old. Spring used to be the season for fresh lamb, however today lamb is available throughout the year. Today the label "Spring lamb" only means that it was brought to market during the Spring/Summer period, it is not an indication of superior quality. Lamb is not one of the more popular meats eaten in the US, however it is a staple in cuisines such as Turkey, Greece, New Zealand, Australia & countries of the Middle East. Lamb has long been regarded as a religious symbol. It was commonly used as a sacrifice, and a symbol of sacrifice, in many religions including Judaism.
Lamb is available in 5 different cuts including the shoulder (roast), rack (roast), shank(Braise)/breast(Braise, grill), loin (chop- Broil, grill) & whole leg (roast)- (it is also sold ground). The grading of lamb is voluntary, so not all lamb will be labeled with a grade. Lamb with the titles of Prime and Choice are the most tender and flavorful, but also have the higher fat content. Although lamb is generally a very tender meat, you should always look for lamb whose flesh is firm & fine textured & pink in color. Any fat surrounding or marbled throughout the lamb should be white, never yellow. Lamb, while high in saturated fat, does provide a rich source of protein ( 3 oz serving provides 48% daily requirement), zinc (aids our immune system), Vitamin B12 , Niacin (protection against Alzheimer's disease).
A few quick ideas for using lamb:
-Ground lamb makes very delicious burgers. Just season and cook as you would a hamburger. Top with sauteed onions or mix up yogurt & cucumbers. Ground lamb can be used in place of ground beef in most recipes-from tacos to stuffed peppers to spaghetti primavera. To cook ground lamb, simply brown in a skillet until no longer pink. Or you can crumble one pound of ground lamb and place in covered microwave-safe dish and cook on high power (100%) for five minutes, stirring after 2 minutes. Drain well.
-Braise lamb loin pieces in red wine, garlic and rosemary.
-Lamb is the perfect meat for stew.
-Place bite size pieces of lamb on a skewer with your favorite grilling vegetables and make lamb shish kebobs. (see recipe below)
-Cut leftover lamb roast into small cubes (about 1-inch) and package in freezer bags for future use in casseroles or soups and stews. For quick sandwiches, heat lamb cubes in your favorite barbecue sauce
Lamb can be served medium-rare (145 F), medium (160 F) or well (170 F). For roasts, remember to remove lamb from the oven or grill 5 to 10 degrees under the suggested temperature. Cover roast and allow to stand 10 to 20 minutes before slicing. Temperature will rise approximately 10 degrees.
Butterflied Leg Of Lamb A leg, completely boned, and removed of all excess fat for broiling or outdoor cooking. When spread flat on the cooking surface, it resembles a butterfly. This provides a natural range of "doneness," the thickest portion being rare, the middle medium, and the thinnest portions well done
Crown Roast Made by curving around two rib halves, 8 ribs each (racks), and tying them to resemble a crown. French ends of rib bones.
Denver Ribs Lamb sparerib that is cut from the breast and trimmed of all fat and connective tissue.
Rack Of Lamb (Rib Roast) Contains rib bones, backbone, and thick, meaty rib-eye muscle. Outside fat cover is usually removed.
Hot House Lamb Meat from a young lamb which has been entirely milk-fed. It is known for its tenderness and delicate flavor.