What to Know Before You Cook Lamb
Lamb is a delicious and simple change of pace from beef. It can be as much everyday fare as a main course at a dinner party, and actually isn’t very difficult to cook. In fact, if you have ever cooked beef, you can cook lamb.
Why Grass-Fed Lamb?
You’ve probably heard the virtues of grass-fed beef: better ratios of omega-3: omega-6 fatty acids, and a more naturally flavorful meat. Grass-fed lamb has the same health benefits and can even boast more tender meat. Naturally, we are biased toward New Zealand grass-fed lamb: lean, tender and tasty, it’s considered by many to be the best lamb in the world. New Zealand is among the top three global producers of lamb, so this delicious meat is widely available. Another plus is that grass-fed lamb doesn’t take much more than salt and pepper to taste amazing.
No matter how you decide to cook your beautiful cut of grass-fed lamb, seasoning is the essential first step. Start by setting your cut of lamb onto a wire rack set into a rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle generously on all sides with kosher salt. Allow the lamb to sit for at least 40 minutes at room temperature: this allows the salt to penetrate the meat. If you aren’t pressed for time, or want extra flavorful/tender results, consider salting your cut of lamb hours in advance (even overnight) and let it rest on a rack uncovered in the fridge.
Choosing How to Cook Lamb
The method you use to cook lamb depends on what cut you are working with. If you have smaller, thinner cuts such as lamb loin or rib chops, grilling hot and fast is a great option. If you don’t have a grill (or if it isn’t grilling weather) searing thin cuts in a very hot cast iron or stainless-steel pan is equally as delicious. For thicker chops, try using a two-zone indirect grilling method. This will help you avoid charred meat that is still raw inside. If you have tougher cuts such as lamb shank or lamb shoulder, braising will break down tough connective tissue and render fat making the lamb fork-tender. For more tender, large cuts such as leg of lamb, lamb loin or rack of lamb, roasting is often the best route to cook it evenly to a rosy, medium-rare. Any kind of roasted lamb can feed a party and is just as easy as any beef roast.
How to Roast Lamb
If you are wondering how to roast your lamb, take comfort that if you have roasted beef, then you can easily roast lamb. A great place to start is with a boneless leg of lamb which can be slow roasted just like prime rib. A New Zealand grass-fed leg of lamb will be around 3.5-5 lbs and can feed about 6-8 people, so it’s a great dish for entertaining.
Cook Lamb, Often
Grass-fed lamb is versatile, delicious and can easily be dressed up or down: seared chops for a quick weeknight meal or rack of lamb for a fancy roast. Strangely enough, the average American eats less than 1 pound of lamb a year. However, once lamb becomes a part of your cooking repertoire, this statistic will no longer hold true for you.