As we all rush off to various parts of the globe (or the library) for spring break, I encourage you to experiment with spring’s best meat: lamb. It’s just about to come into season, when it will be at its best quality and most friendly price. Though this list does include the classics, I enncourage you to try a technique other than roasting when you find the right cut.
Shanks. My absolute favourite. These are the tops of the lamb’s leg, and make for a delicious and succulent meat when slow roasted in individual aluminium foil packs with some white wine and herbs. They’re also amongst the cheapest of cuts – great for a dinner party!
Chops. These are made by portioning a rack of lamb. I prefer them to a whole rack because they lend themselves well to techniques other than roasting. Though expensive, the flavour per bite I find more intense than in any other cut. This is also the best cut for grilling (in the American sense, on a barbecue, or in the British sense, in the oven) – char the outside and serve with mint sauce and salad for a simple summer supper.
Breast. This is one with which I’ll be experimenting this season, as it’s the best one for my tight end-of-year budget. It comes from the belly area of the animal and doesn’t have much meat once you remove the bone, which makes it a great one for stuffed and rolled roasts.
Neck. Another cut not for roasting. Since it’s a muscular cut, it makes for perfect stewing or braising meat. If you learn one new thing from this article, let it be this: tougher, cheaper cuts are more flavoursome than any other when cooked for a long time over gentle heat.
Leg. The classic cut, particularly for upcoming Easter weekend. Yes, there are loads of variations on leg of lamb, but why meddle with perfection? Garlic, rosemary and, if you’re feeling innovative, some lemon thyme make for the most aromatic roast.
St Andrews is blessed with a wonderful local butcher’s, and they know much more than I detail here. So go in, have a chat and try replacing beef with lamb in a few of your springtime meals.