Lamb is a wonderfully tender and moist meat that lends itself to a variety of cooking styles and an assortment of flavor possibilities.
Purchase before the "sell by" date on the packaging for best quality. Look for lamb that is pinkish red. Make sure the package is cold and has no holes or tears.
Determine the amount of lamb you need to buy based on the cut and amount of bone:
- 1 pound of bone-in roasts yields 2-1/2 servings.
- 1 pound of bone-in steaks yields 2 servings.
- 1 pound of bone-in rib or loin chops yields 2 servings.
- 1 pound of rack of lamb yields 2 servings.
Don't be afraid to use generous amounts of fresh garlic and herbs when cooking lamb. These bold flavors will enhance any cut.
Use a meat thermometer when roasting lamb to ensure the meat is cooked just the way you like it. For best flavor and tenderness, serve roasted lamb medium-rare to medium-well.
Serve lamb piping hot for best flavor. Warming the platter and dinner plates in the oven just before serving will keep your entree hot during the meal. Make sure your dishes are oven-safe, and use hot pads when handling warm plates.
The thicker the package, the longer it will take to thaw. Here are some guidelines for defrosting lamb in the refrigerator.
- For 1- to 1-1/2-in.-thick packages of ground lamb or meat pieces, allow at least 24 hours.
- For 1-in.-thick chops, allow 12 to 14 hours.
- For a small roast, allow 3 to 5 hours per pound.
- For a large roast, allow 4 to 7 hours per pound.
To roast lamb, as in the recipe for Italian Leg of Lamb, begin by placing the meat fat side up on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Insert an oven-safe meat thermometer in the thickest portion of the muscle without touching bone or fat. Or use an instant-read thermometer toward the end of the roasting time. If the meat needs to cook longer, remove the instant-read thermometer before you return the meat to the oven.
Roast without liquid, uncovered, according to the temperature and time given in the recipe. Because roasts will continue to cook after being removed from the oven, remove it when the meat thermometer reads 5-10° below desired doneness. Cover with foil and let stand for 10-15 minutes before carving.