Know your lamb - Bar & Kitchen

Know your lamb

It’s for more than just a spring Sunday roast. Find out which cuts deserve a premium price tag and how to maximise on flavour.

 

This is a versatile meat that doesn’t have to be expensive, especially if you’re sourcing British lamb in season. Premium rack and rump might dominate menus, but economical cuts like neck or ribs offer so much flavour and leftovers make excellent meals the next day too.

Lamb sales have increased 10% in 2021, according to Kantar, which is partly down to growth in takeaways such as kebabs. It offers a unique niche for food service as it’s perceived as more complex and specialist to cook at home.

Here Matt Owens shares his lamb tips and how to make the most of each cut. Matt is a lamb expert and development chef for Alliance, a New Zealand farmer-owned co-operative. He
is also National Chairman for the Craft Guild of Chefs, which supports chefs with training and development.

“ In the past year lamb sales increased by 10%”
- Kantar, 2021

Economy Cuts

These cuts might cost less, but investing time in slow cooking and savvy presentation means you can still charge a premium. It’s our job to ensure customers appreciate the whole animal, not just the prime cuts.

 

1

Shoulder

Cook shoulder low-and-slow and on the bone. Pile up shredded lamb on a platter with chermoula and flatbreads, or roll it in cling film until chilled and slice for a premium serve. This is a tasty, underused cut that’s cheaper than a rack of lamb.

2

Ribs

Lamb ribs aren’t too fatty, they absorb a marinade and are flexible for slow oven or quick cooking on the BBQ. Delicious with a sticky Texas BBQ or Korean-style glaze. They’re a good alternative to pork ribs.

3

Neck

Top end (or scrag end) is on the bone and requires slower cooking while the middle neck works with a quick cook. Neck cuts suit middle eastern flavours such as feta, chilli and cumin, and make a great lamb wellington. Like pork belly, its growing popularity has increased prices.

4

Liver

Offal is deservedly back on the menu. Dice it up in a stew or hot pot to add flavour or make it the centrepiece, pan-fried with shallots and chilli.

5

Leg & Shank

Made up of rump at the top, the leg in the middle, and shank below the knee, this is a large and versatile cut. Roast it whole or get it boned out and stuffed for an impressive traditional roast.

Charge a Premium

These cuts might cost less, but investing time in slow cooking and savvy presentation means you can still charge a premium. It’s our job to ensure customers appreciate the whole animal, not just the prime cuts.

 

1

Rack of Lamb

A luxury quick-cooking cut that usually serves 3-4 people. French trimmed racks are cleaner to eat, but I prefer them ‘cap-on’, which means the fat and flavour remain.

2

Rump

Also known as the chump or top end of the leg. It’s a tender, juicy cut that suits pan roasting or BBQ. Cook it too medium and serve with simple flavours like lemons, thyme or rosemary.

3

Chop

Chops are a popular quick-cooking treat, especially with a tandoori marinade or Turkish-style grill. Swap lamb chops for loin or shank for better value, or go for smaller chops from the head.

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