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Lamb 101

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Lamb 101

(Some information was omitted as to not “gross out” readers. I did keep the information that I thought was important to this 101.)

The young of the sheep is the lamb. In butchery, the term “mutton” is used for the meat of the adult male sheep (ram), neutered or not, and the adult female (ewe). Lamb meat comes from an animal less than 12 months old (the standards vary in different countries).

Milk-fed lamb: (or “sucker lamb”) is fed almost exclusively on its mother’s milk.

Heavy lamb: is reared on a diet made up of grains and fodder.

Light lamb: has qualities that lie between the types described above.

Mutton: (and “hogget”) come from adult breeds. The older the animal, the tougher the meat is red, tough, and marbled with fat and is stronger in taste.

Both lamb and mutton have a fat called “hard fat”. It is called this because that fat congeals as it cools (serve them on a very hot plate).

BUYING LAMB

The color, texture and flavor of the meat depend on the breed, age, diet and living conditions of the animal. The joints of the back limbs are cartilaginous in lamb and bony in mutton. Mutton flesh is red-hued, whereas lamb flesh is pink-hued. The bone in a lamb leg roast represents about 25% of its weight. A lamb leg weighing 5-6 lbs. serves 6-8 people.

STORING LAMB

In the fridge: portions, 3 days; ground, 1-2 days

In the freezer: portions, 8-10 months, ground, 2-3 months

COOKING LAMB

Broiled, grilled or roasted: lamb can be eaten rare (145°), medium (155°), or well done (about 165°). It has maximum flavor when it is still slightly pink. Since the meat dries out and becomes tough easily, cook at a moderate heat (325°-350°) and avoid overcooking.

COOKING MUTTON

Roasted: leg roast and bin of lamb

Broiled or grilled: chops, especially if they have been marinated.

 

SERVING IDEAS FOR LAMB

The following seasonings work well with lamb and mutton: garlic, mustard, basil, mint, rosemary, safe and lemon, lime or orange zest. The meat benefits from being marinated, especially less tender parts (shoulder, breast, shank) to be cooked using dry heat. Roast leg of lamb is a traditional Easter dish in several countries. Méchoui, a whole gutted lamb or sheep spit-roasted over a wood fire, is a customary dish in North Africa an Middle Eastern countries. Middle Eastern cuisine incorporates lamb (or mutton) into kebabs ad meatballs and couscous.

 

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