By Cat, April 2015 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)
- See also: 1. Foods (About) Menu; 2. Lamb, Pork, Small Game Menu; 3. Middle-Eastern Meza; 4. Mediterranean Menu; 5. Lamb Roast (About)
- Includes: 1. Cuts of Lamb; 2. Montana Sources of Lamb
Lamb is my favorite red meat, and is one of the better meat choices at the grocery store or when eating out, health-wise, because sheep demand grass/pasture/hay feed rather than accepting grain/soy feed commonly given to cattle. This means that they are likely GMO-free (unless fed GMO alfalfa).
It’s flavor is a bit gamey, but if prepared with flavorful herbs and spices, you will not notice the gaminess. Mutton is the meat of older sheep, often tough and even more gamey, so you may wish to avoid that, or choose recipes that require long cooking (like stews) and flavored with aromatic herbs and spices.
Cuts of Lamb
Lamb cuts are named differently than beef, as you can see from the image, below, from Culinary Arts (1))
The rib or loin chops are the more tender and expensive cuts. Rack of lamb (from the rib section) is one of the best cuts for roasting or grilling; for example Roasted Rack(s) of Lamb, with Rosemary & Thyme Marinade. Loin chops are also excellent for roasting or grilling; for example, Spice-Rubbed Lamb chops, with Garbanzos & Couscous. Leg of lamb is also fairly tender (see below).
Shoulder may also be tender but has a fair amount of gristle and bones, so is often used for ground lamb. Ground lamb makes flavorful sausage and burgers; I especially like kafta, a sausage-like burger that is typically grilled on skewers.
Sirloin and leg are great for roasts, especially slow-roasts or braise, but some of the sirloin is also suitable for grilling. The leg portion that has the round bone may also be cut into steaks which are what I use for souvlaki/kebabs and for stove-top grill recipes; for example, Lamb & Cucumber Souvlaki, with Feta Sauce.
The hind leg is typically divided into two distinct cuts: leg of lamb, and shank (or hind-shank). The foreleg has just the fore-shank.
- Shank is an inexpensive cut of meat with wonderful flavor, but is best cooked by braising (see Lamb Shank Braised with Vegetables en Papillote) or steaming in liquid (such as Basic Braised Lamb Shank or Leg of Lamb)
- Leg of lamb is typically from the hind leg. It typically includes the sirloin section with hip bone, and the leg (upper shank) portion with round bone; for example, Greek-Style Braised Lamb Shank or Leg of Lamb. However, it is also possible to purchase just the upper-shank portion with the round bone. Either way, it is usually roasted.
I have no experience with the neck and flank sections, but I suspect the lamb flank can be cooked in similar way to beef flank, but with an herb/spice rub or garlic & herb marinade.
Montana sources of Lamb
The following is from Rachel K.:
- Will Tusick, 883-4093, south of Polson; lamb processed at Lower Valley (he usually gives complimentary garlic with lamb orders)
- Helen Tobiason, 756-0448; Cherry Creek Farm? south of Kalispell in Lower Valley
- Hansen Farms, 257-7407, out of Kila, not sure about processing. They sell at Columbia Falls Farmer’s Market
Eastern Montana Sources
- Montana Organic Lamb (Belgrade): montanaorganiclamb.com
- Montana Natural Lamb (Big Timber): montananaturallamb.com/home.php
- Western Sustainability Exchange: westernsustainabilityexchange.org/member-producers
- Culinary Arts image, from culinary arts: (culinaryarts.about.com/od/beefporkothermeats/ss/cutsoflamb.htm and f.tqn.com/y/culinaryarts/1/S/8/Z/-/-/2000px-Lamb_Cuts_00.jpg)