Lamb might not be the most popular meat to cook, but it’s actually very simple to prepare. And you can wow your family and friends with a delicious dish, too. With these basic tips on how to cook lamb perfectly, you can get busy in the kitchen and cook lamb like a real pro.
Flavor and Seasoning
There are a million and one ways to flavor a chicken.
That’s because the meat is incredibly versatile to many flavor profiles. It tastes great with herbs and spices the world over.
Lamb, on the other hand, has a very distinct flavor, gamy yet rich. And while it isn’t as flexible as other meats, there are still many herbs and spices that pair very well with lamb.
Here are just some of the common flavors you can use to compliment your lamb:
You can easily use just one herb or create your own dry rub before roasting or grilling. But before you do that, let’s take a look at the different cuts you can choose from, and the best ways to prepare and cook them.
Chops, Steaks, or Shoulders?
Chances are, you’re not going to cook an entire lamb. Instead, you’re probably going to choose between a couple different cuts.
The most common cuts for lamb are chops, steaks and shoulders.
But what should you choose, and why?
Let’s break it down, one by one.
What You Need to Know About Lamb Chops
Lamb chops are a great place to start when it comes to cooking lamb.
Their shape and size is similar to pork chops and you can roast, grill or pan-fry them.
When purchasing lamb chops, make sure they either have a pinkish or reddish color. This will ensure that the meat is fresh.
Small streaks of fat throughout the meat and along the outside edge will keep the meat tender and succulent while you cook it.
How to Roast and Pan Fry Lamb Chops
To roast your lamb chops, start by drizzling olive oil over them.
Then, sprinkle them lightly with salt and pepper.
You can use common herbs like oregano, thyme, and rosemary to flavor them, too. A good oven temperature would be 180°C or 300°F, for about 20 minutes, or until they’re cooked through.
If you prefer cooking at the stove, rub your favorite herbs (rosemary works particularly well here) into the lamb chops.
Then, sauté minced garlic in a pan of olive oil.
Once the garlic is just cooked, remove it and then add the lamb chops to the pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
If you like your meat medium-rare, you’ll probably only need to cook them for about 3-4 minutes on each side. But if you prefer lamb well done, just cook them a little longer.
How to Pan Fry Lamb Steaks
Lamb steaks are tender and easy to cook.
Here, you want to opt for round or rump steaks. And instead of oiling the pan as you would with lamb chops, massage the oil right into the meat before cooking it. You want to hear that sweet, sizzling sound when you place the meat in the hot pan.
The beauty of lamb steaks is that you don’t need to fuss with them much.
You can simply let one side cook for about 4 minutes (depending on the thickness), and then flip it to let the other side flip.
Keep the juices from spilling out while it cooks to keep the meat juicy and tender.
How to Marinate Your Lamb Steaks
If you’d like to spice things up a little bit, let your steaks and chops rest in a tasty marinade for several hours before cooking them.
For a zesty flavor, place olive oil, fresh lemon juice, lemon zest, crushed garlic and fresh rosemary in a sealable, plastic bag.
Add the meat and make sure the marinade is evenly distributed over them. You can let it sit in the refrigerator for up to 4 hours before cooking.
Another yummy combination is olive oil, cumin, coriander, cayenne, ginger, garlic, chopped mint and yogurt.
It might seem like a very intense mix but remember, lamb has a strong flavor and can really hold up to other intense flavors.
How to Roast Lamb Shoulders
If you’re looking for a dish to serve at a big gathering or holiday, a roasted lamb shoulder is a fun way to spoil your family or friends.
Because a lamb shoulder is a much larger piece of meat than chops or steaks, it takes much longer to cook (about four hours). But your kitchen will be full of mouth-watering aromas that everyone wants to try.
The most important tip to remember when it comes to roasting lamb shoulder is to place the fatty side of the shoulder facing up in the roasting pan, and to cover the pan tightly!
Then, Jamie Oliver recommends something incredibly simple: slash the fatty side of the shoulder with a knife and rub olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh rosemary all over it.
Remember to cover it well with tin foil before placing it in an oven heated at about 160°C or 325°F.
You can also create your own dry rub by mixing together your favorite herbs from the list above.
You can massage that, along with some olive oil, into the shoulder before placing it in the oven.
As always, make sure the pan is very well covered. And if you want to keep your meat extra succulent, bast your meat with a simmering pot of chicken or vegetable broth as it cooks.
Serve Your Lamb with Flavors that Pop
You can enjoy lamb steaks garnished with a sprig of fresh rosemary, or you can branch out and serve it with flavors that balance the tangy lamb flavor.
Favorite choices are mint jellies, fresh parsley, pomegranate seeds, and even yogurts for dipping.
If you’ve never tried cooking lamb for your family or friends (or even yourself!) don’t be intimidated! With a little know-how, you can easily prepare lamb and enjoy a delicious meal.