Category Archives: Lamb

Greek Lamb Sausage

I have Greek food on the brain.  The current infatuation has many diverse origins.  For starters this summer is the ten year anniversary of an epic trip through southern Greece, and I have been reading old food notes from the journey.  Also I’ll be doing a class on Greek mezze for Metro Continuing Education this fall.  With all this in mind last week I made a Greek lamb sausage.

Coils of Greek lamb sausageIn 2008 I spent five weeks in Greece, eating in tavernas two or three times a day.  I don’t think I ever had a sausage like this.  In other words this sausage is not traditional, but it is very much inspired by Greek loukaniko, a pork sausage flavoured with orange … Continue reading.

Irish Stew

The defining element of Irish stew is the use of lamb neck, or scrag.

Traditionally it is made more like a casserole than a stew.  Actually it bares an uncanny resemblance to boulangère potatoes.  Lamb, potato rounds, and other vegetables are layered in a casserole, then covered with stock or water and baked in an oven.

Lamb neck is a very tough cut of meat.  I sear and braise the necks to tenderize, then use the shredded meat and cooking liquid to make the stew.

Once the necks are very tender to the tip of a paring knife, I remove them from the liquid and let cool briefly.  While the necks are still warm I fold back the meat … Continue reading.

Lamb Brain

In case the title didn’t tip you off, this post contains pictures of a lamb brain and details on its preparation for human consumption.  If that bothers you, there’ll be a new post tomorrow that you’ll like better.

 

I would say that I eat more offal than most.  I don’t really seek it out, but by buying whole animals, there’s always some available to me.  Most of the offal I eat is from lambs, which is weird, because most of the meat I eat is from pigs, cows, and chickens.  The main reason that I have so much lamb offal is that every year I make haggis for Burns night.  That has me buying enough lamb lung, heart, and … Continue reading.

Lamb Cutting: Front

Having removed the scrag when breaking the lamb into primals, the components remaining on the lamb front are the shoulder, the breast, and the shank.

I love having ground lamb in my kitchen, so usually I bone out on entire lamb shoulder just to run it through the meat grinder.  The other half is broken in a bone-in shoulder roast, a boneless breast ideal for stuffing and rolling, and a shank, one of the world’s supreme braising cuts.

Here is half of the lamb front, with the fell still attached.

Lamb front, with fell

We remove the fell to expose the fat cap.

Lamb front, fell removed

Here is the inside of the front, showing the backbone on the top, the first six ribs, and the breastbone … Continue reading.

Lamb Cutting: Loin and Flank

The loin primal is divided into two sections.  The forward part, from the thoracic section of the spine, contains ribs, and is usually trimmed to make rack of lamb.  The back part, from the lumbar section, contains no ribs, and is usually broken into lamb chops.

 

Dividing the Loin Primal into the Rib and Loin Subprimals

This is the whole loin primal, with the fell still attached.

The whole lamb loin

Here is the underside of the loin primal.  You can see the rib section on the left, and the loin subprimal on the right.

The underside of the whole lamb loin

We divide the two by cutting after the last rib bone, then cleaving through the backbone.

Separating the loin primal into the rack and loin subprimal

 

How to make a Frenched Rack of Lamb

Frenched lamb rack … Continue reading.

Lamb Cutting: Leg

This post is about preparing a whole lamb leg for a classic roasted leg of lamb, or gigot.  This is the whole leg, straight from the animal.

A whole lamb leg

First remove the tail bone, which you can see running along the top of the leg primal.  On the forward end of the tailbone (to the left in the picture below) is the connection to the pelvis.  Since lambs are so young, you should be able to easily break this adhesion.

The exposed tailbone on a leg of lamb

The leg, tailbone removed:

Lamb leg, tailbone removed

Next remove the pelvis.  This is a complicated little bone.  Follow it as closely as you can, making small, exploratory cuts with a boning knife.

Now we can turn the leg over and remove the fell, … Continue reading.

Lamb Cutting: Breaking a Lamb into Primals

This is a whole lamb from Tangle Ridge Ranch.  Notice that, unlike pork and beef, the lamb has not been cut in two down the spine.  The carcass is easy to handle (typically 40-60 lbs, maybe a bit smaller for grass-finished varieties like Tangle Ridge).  It’s traditionally broken into four primals:

  • front,
  • leg,
  • loin, and
  • flank.

A whole lamb from Tangle Ridge Ranch

 

Removing the front.  The first primal to be removed is the front, which is separated from the rest of the animal by cutting between the sixth and seventh ribs.  You can count the ribs by putting your hand inside the cavity.  Slide a knife between the sixth and seventh ribs and cut all the way up to the backbone, and all the … Continue reading.

Lamb Chops

Raw lamb chopThis is as casual as lamb gets at my house.  Typically, serving lamb is an event.  Lamb chops are probably the only cut that we would casually remove from the freezer the day we plan to cook it, then grill it briefly for a private dinner.

Lambs can be cut however you want, but typically the loin is divided into two sections.  The thoracic section, containing the ribs, is usually formed into a rack of lamb.  The lumbar section, which has no ribs, makes lamb chops.  Lamb chops are analogous to the T-bone steaks on a side of beef.  In the picture at left, the round, white bone at the bottom of the chop is the chine bone, or backbone.  … Continue reading.

Roast Lamb Leg

The first cut of our Tangle Ridge Ranch lamb that we cooked was a whole leg roast.

There is nothing quite like roasting large joints of meat and carving them tableside.  A bit of pageantry with dinner.

A down and dirty recipe:

Roast Lamb Leg

Ingredients
  • 1 whole lamb leg
  • garlic, minced
  • thyme, minced
  • rosemary, minced
  • kosher salt
  • coarse ground black pepper
Procedure
  1. Trim the leg: remove the fell, clean the meat from the shank bone, and trim back the fat to an even, thin (1/8″) layer.  For detailed instructions on trimming up a whole lamb leg to make a roast, see this post.
  2. Score the fat in a diamond pattern, with about 1″ between each slice.
  3. Rub the
Continue reading.

The Economics of Buying Whole Lambs

A whole lamb carcass, ready for cuttingIf you’re unfamiliar with Tangle Ridge Ranch and their pastured lambs, here’s some information to digest:

Last week Tangle Ridge killed this year’s lambs, and Lisa and I were fortunate enough to get a whole, uncut carcass.  My primary motivation was securing lamb meat and offal for this January’s Burns supper.  Here’s some details on the purchase.

The Numbers

Compared to most other meats, lamb is expensive.  My side of pork this year was $2.15/lb for a 110 lb side.  This whole, uncut lamb … Continue reading.