Lamb - suitable cooking methods

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Main cuts
Illustrations of cuts normally available at a British butcher's shop

Cooking methods by cut

When buying lamb, the fat should be crisp and white and the lean fine-grained, firm and pinky-brown. There is usually very little gristle. Freshly cut surfaces should look slightly moist and the bones a pinkish-blue. Common cooking methods are as follows:

  • Scrag End and Middle Neck - usually sold as chops, on the bone and used for stewing or braising. They are the traditional cuts for Irish stew and Lancashire hotpot.
  • Shoulder - A succulent, tender roasting joint, whether on the bone, or boned, stuffed and rolled. Sold whole, or halved into blade and knuckle, both of which are ideal for roasting or braising.
  • Best End of Neck - Can be bought as roasting joint with a row of 6 or 7 rib bones called a rack; a full rack is in fact 8 rib bones and therefore extends out of the best end of neck area. The butcher will 'chine' the back bone, for easier carving. It can be roasted on the bone, or boned, stuffed and rolled. It is often sold as cutlets with one rib bone to each, for grilling or frying. Two racks joined together and curved, bones outwards, is called a Crown Roast. Facing each other, fat side outwards, they are called a Guard of Honour. Both of these special occasion dishes can be stuffed before roasting. This cut is recognisable by the dot of lean beneath the main 'eye' of lean.
  • Loin - Either roast as a piece, or boned, stuffed and rolled. It is usually divided into loin end and chump end, and cut into chops for grilling or frying. Chump chops are recognisable by the small round bone in the centre.
  • Saddle of Lamb - A large roasting joint for a special occasion, which is the whole loin from both sides of the animal, left in one piece.
  • Leg - A roasting joint on the bone, or boned, stuffed and rolled. It is often divided into fillet end and shank end.
  • Breast - Long, thin cuts, streaked with fat and lean. When boned, rolled and stuffed, it is the most economical cut for roasting or braising