Superior Farm notes that 2021 marked an increase in lamb popularity in the US for a variety of reasons. Not only were American families more willing to try the protein as they experimented with home cooking – but they were also impressed with the variety of cuts and flavors that American lamb offers. Superior Farms recognizes that many people that have just started cooking lamb may not be aware of the differences between cuts and the best ways to prepare them. For this reason, Superior Farms provides a list of some of the most common cuts of lamb as well as tips for how they can be cooked to develop the best flavors possible.
Leg stands out as a popular cut because it has flavorful dark meat and an excellent meat-to-bone ratio. One of the reasons that it is a traditional choice for holiday meals is because it is one of the most versatile cuts, is often served whole, and can be purchased in several different varieties. It can come in forms such as shank end, sirloin end, short leg, frenched, and can be deboned as well. Lamb leg makes an excellent centerpiece protein, and many choose to roast the leg whole with a combination of herbs and spices to really accentuate the flavor of the lamb. Slow roasting ensures that the meat remains tender and juicy, developing a melt-in-your-mouth texture as it cooks through.
Lamb breast is a flavorful, inexpensive cut that is somewhere in the middle on a scale of tender to tough. The breast can have a lot of fat, which means that it can be tough if it is not treated correctly during the cooking process. The best way to fully take advantage of the cut’s flavor and fat content Is to cook the breast with a low and slow method, as this will give the fat time to render out and flavor the rest of the meat. Roasting and braising are common ways to cook this cut, as it helps break down the meat as it builds flavor.
Rack of Lamb
Rack of lamb is often served at restaurants and chosen by home cooks because it is a well-rounded cut that can be cooked quickly when compared to others. There are many preparations that suit rack of lamb as well, with several calling for a crust of herbs and coarse salt roasted on high heat. Rack of lamb also allows for fancy presentations such as a Frenched rack (where the layer of fat and thin strips of muscle and meat on the ends of the rib bones are trimmed) and crown roast. Rack of lamb is not one of the fattier cuts of protein, however, meaning that it should be treated delicately to play with its flavors rather than overpower them. The meat lends itself well to grilling or quick roasting, and it is often seared on each side before being finished in the oven.
Shoulder cuts are flavorful and have nicely marbled meat that has a sweetness in its flavor profile. It is important to remember that shoulder muscles do a lot of work, and therefore are less tender and take longer to cook that some of the other cuts if cooked too quickly. But the meat is very lean and juicy, and slow roasting or braising allows the meat to break down properly, developing a tender texture and great flavor.
Lamb shanks are from the latter part of the fore and hind leg. This cut is great for slow cooking, as the bone that runs through the center releases a lot of flavors as the meat cooks. Most common cooking methods for shanks involve low and slow preparations, giving the meat time to become tender and fall off the bone. The flavor profile of the meat is hard to overtake, which gives home cooks a chance to experiment with more bold seasonings. For example, lamb shank is a common meat featured in Moroccan tagine, where it is marinated with spices such as cumin, coriander, ginger, and paprika before it is stewed down in lemons, apricots, saffron, and passata.
Loin chops are readily available cuts that are sought after because they are among the leanest and most tender. Because there is not an extra layer of fat protection like some other cuts, however, chefs should be careful not to overcook the meat and cause it to become tough. Loin chops can be cooked in a wide variety of ways but are often cooked quickly on a grill or in the broiler where they develop a caramelized crust.
Sirloin chops are often large and meaty cuts that are great for making thick and rather inexpensive steaks. Commonly used as an alternative for cuts such as rib and loin chops, sirloin chops are an excellent choice for chefs that seek variety in their preparation methods. This is because they can be grilled or broiled and can be served with a variety of accompaniments that interact well with the flavor profile of the cut.