Lamb is a favorite by many for Passover and Easter Holiday dinner celebrations. While Americans in general eat less lamb than other cultures, if you haven’t tried it, you are missing a delectable treat. Why you ask? Well…
- It’s Delicious
Lamb can be broiled, grilled, baked, or braised. It can be ground into patties, stuffed with herbs or marinated. It can be an ingredient in stews, tagines, and meatballs, or the star of the dinner table.
- It’s Full of Nutrients
Lamb is a prime source of high-quality protein, vitamins, and minerals. A 3-ounce serving of lamb provides 43 percent of the recommended daily allowance of protein. Lamb is also high in B vitamins, zinc, and iron.
- It’s Lean
Compared to other meats, lamb contains very little marbling (fat in the meat). And, since the fat is on the edges of the meat, it is easily trimmed off, which means fewer calories — only 175 in an average 3-ounce serving.
Not sure where to start your lamb adventure? Here are some important cooking tips.
Do not over cook!
For safety, the USDA recommends cooking lamb patties and ground lamb mixtures such as meat loaf to a safe minimum internal temperature of 160 °F as measured by a food thermometer. Cook all raw lamb steaks, chops, and roasts to a minimum internal temperature of 145 °F as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from the heat source.
When shopping for lamb, look for meat that is fine textured and firm that has red coloring and white marbling (white flecks of fat within the meat muscle). The fat trim should be firm, white, and not too thick. The USDA quality grades are reliable guides.
Lamb vs. Mutton
The meat from a young sheep (less than 12 months of age) is called lamb. It is naturally tender and mild in flavor. The meat from an older sheep (over one year of age) is called mutton. It has a more intense flavor than lamb, but is preferred to lamb in some cultures.
Know your Parts!
There are five basic major cuts of lamb: shoulder, rack, shank/breast, loin, and leg. The rack contains 9 full ribs and can be split (along the back bone) into two lamb rib roasts. A “lamb crown roast” is made by sewing two rib roasts together to form a circle or crown. “Loin” chops come from the loin and “rib” chops come from the rack (or rib); these are the most tender and most expensive chops. “Blade” and “arm” chops (from the shoulder) and “sirloin” chops (from the leg) are less expensive but may be just as tender.
Add to your holiday recipe repertoire with lamb!
Try one of these wonderful recipes for your next big holiday feast or dinner party. You’ll be sure to wow your guests!
- Grilled Lamb Chops with Lemon by Michael Symon of Bon Appétit
- Stuffed Leg of Lamb with Feta and Olives featured by Russ Parsons, The California Cook, Los Angeles Times.
- Olive-Crusted Rack of Lamb by Spanish Restaurant El Olivio, care of Bon Appétit on Epicurious
- Paula Deen‘s, Roast Lamb with Bourbon and Mint, a traditional Southern Version.
Let us know if you serve Lamb as the center piece of your holiday dinner. Do you have a favorite lamb recipe to share?
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