Lamb Cooked 3 Ways
Cooked low and slow, lamb shanks become rich with complex flavors. Lamb shoulder is also a great choice for slow cooking. Good value cuts are: Shoulder Chops, Stew Meat, Ground Lamb, and Leg Steak.
The USDA recommends cooking all whole muscle cuts of lamb to at least these temperatures to ensure that potentially harmful bacteria are destroyed. Some people may choose to cook their meat to lower temperatures, depending on preference. Ground lamb should be cooked to 160 degrees.
Medium – Target Temperature 145 Degrees, Texture Warm/Firm, Center Color Pink
Medium Well – Target Temperature 155 Degrees, Texture Very Warm/Firm, Center Color Gray – Tinged With Pink
Well Done – Target Temperature 165 Degrees, Texture Hot/Dense/Hard, Center Color Gray
Best Cooking Methods For Lamb
Shoulder Blade Chops (Shoulder): Braise, Broil, Grill, Roast, Pan-Fry, And Stew
Rib Chops (Loin): Broil, Grill, Roast, Pan-Fry, And Sauté
Loin Chops (Loin): Broil, Grill, Roast, Pan-Fry, And Sauté
Whole Leg (Leg): Braise
Leg – Boned, Rolled, Tied (Leg): Grill, And Roast
Rack of Lamb (Loin): Broil, Grill, And Roast
Crown Roast (Loin): Roast
Top Round Roast (Leg): Braise, Roast, And Stew
Stew Meat (Various): Braise, And Stew
Sausages (Various): Braise, Grill, Roast, Pan-Fry, And Sauté
Shanks (Leg): Braise, And Stew
Lamb Chops 2 Ways
Classic Broiled: Preheat broiler. Arrange chops on broiler pan and season with kosher salt and pepper. Broil 4 to 5 minutes per side, or until target temperature. Remove pan from broiler, cover with foil and allow chops to rest 10 minutes before serving.
Rosemary Garlic: Puree 6 garlic cloves with 2 Tablespoons fresh rosemary. Add 1/2 cup olive oil, kosher salt and pepper. Marinate chops 30 minutes or overnight. Grill over medium-high heat, or broil according to above directions.
Roast Leg of Lamb With Mint Jelly: Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Combine 2 Tablespoons kosher salt, 1 Tablespoon black pepper, 1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary and 1/3 cup olive oil. Rub mixture all over roast. Make a few dozen small slits in lamb and insert garlic slivers. Place lamb in roasting pan and roast 10 minutes, reduce temperature to 325 degrees and roast until target temperature, about 1 1/2 hours. Cover with foil and let rest 15 minutes. Serve with mint jelly.
Many people ask me how long they can keep fresh meat and poultry. You can refrigerate whole meat cuts for 2 to 3 days and raw ground meats for 1 to 2 days. Raw poultry for 1 to 2 days. If you’re not cooking your meat or poultry within these time frames, freeze it. We never want to risk getting food poisoning.
How do you know when your particular meat is done cooking? The safest way is to use a meat thermometer, inserting into the thickest part of the meat, but never touching bone.
Meat Cooking Terms
Braise: Moist cooking in a pot with a lid and a small amount of liquid. This method works well either on the stove top or in the oven, rendering tougher cuts moist and extremely tender by melting the tough collagen between fibers, but allowing the fibers themselves to retain moisture. Examples: Pot Roast, Boeuf Bourguignon, Cacciatore, Most Curries.
Brine: Similar to marinating, meat or poultry is soaked in a salt-water mixture prior to cooking to enhance flavor, moisture and tenderness. Examples: Brined Turkey, Chicken or Pork.
Broil: Dry cooking under intense direct heat, sort of like grilling from the top down. Great for tender steaks and chops, boneless chicken, kabobs. Example: London Broil.
Deep Fry: Cooking pieces of meat, often coated with batter or crumbs, submerged in very hot oil. Example: Southern Fried Chicken.
Grill: Cooking over direct heat, usually outdoors. Grill pans and electric grills don’t require much additional oil, and create nice looking char marks, but lack the crust and smoky flavor of outdoor grilling. Grilling can be fast or slow. Examples: Grilled Steaks, Barbecued Chicken, You Name It!
Pan-Roast or Pan-Fry: A technique that begins on the stove top and often ends under the broiler or in the oven. Combination cooking creates a flavorful browned exterior and allows for finer control of doneness. Great for thick chops and steaks or larger pieces of poultry. Examples: Filet Mignon, Pork Tenderloin, Pan-Roasted Veal Chops.
Poach: Simmer at a point less than boiling to produce just a slight movement in the liquid. Examples: Poached Chicken Breasts.
Roast: Dry cooking in ambient oven heat. Creates a flavorful, browned outside and a tender, juicy interior. Ideal for larger tender roasts, whole poultry, most stuffed roasts. Examples: Roast Beef, Thanksgiving Turkey, Crown Roast.
Sauté: Quick stove-top cooking in a skim of oil in a heavy, low-sided skillet, frying pan or sauté pan. Great for tender steakhouse cuts and chops, chicken or duck breast, boneless cutlets. Examples: Sandwich Steaks, Wiener Schnitzel, Chicken Cutlets.
Smoke: Food is cooked or flavored before cooking by exposure to smoldering wood, herbs or tea. Examples: Tea-Smoked Chicken, Mesquite-Smoked Pork Chops.
Stir Fry: An Asian technique of cooking small pieces of food over very high heat, usually with oil, using constant stirring and tossing motion to prevent burning. Examples: A Profusion of Meat, Seafood and Poultry Dishes From China, Thailand and Vietnam.
Simmer: See Braise & Also See Stew
Stew: Slow cooking, Submerged in flavorful liquid, usually after browning on the surface. Stewing is similar to braising except that stews usually have more liquid, which is an important part of the finished dish. Best for cubes coming from tougher cuts. Examples: Beef Stew, Chili, Gumbo.
Sous-vide: A method of cooking food sealed in airtight plastic bags in a water bath for longer than normal cooking times (72 hours in some cases). The temperature is regulated and much lower than normally used for cooking, typically around 55° F to 60° F for meats. The intention is to cook the item evenly, and not to overcook the outside while still keeping the inside at the same doneness, keeping the food juicier. Examples: Beef Brisket and Short Ribs.
Some foods need moist, long cooking to tenderize them while others just require a quick sauté in a skillet. Sauté means “jump” in French which describes the tossing and turning in the skillet during the cooking process. There are a few basic secrets to perfect sautéing that will help you get better cooking results.
The trick to successful sautéing is to use a medium-high heat and a small amount of oil. As a matter of fact meats and other protein-based foods should not be turned too often because extended contact with the hot skillet will brown the surface of the food which will deliver extra flavor. Heat the skillet over a medium-high heat and if the pan is too hot you will burn the outside of the food before the inside is cooked so turn down the heat a bit.
Do not use butter for sautéing. Use oil. Butter contains milk solids that burn and smoke at high temperatures. Some cookbooks call for mixing butter and oil which supposedly increases the smoke point of the butter. This does not remove the milk solids that are the problem. You can, however, use clarified butter, but it is easier to use oil for cooking meats. If you want a butter flavor then use it in a pan sauce.
Thick cuts of meat can be difficult to cook through when sautéing. You may want to use a double-cooking method for thick cuts. Double-cut pork and lamb chops, porterhouse steaks, and large bone-in, skin-on chicken breast halves are too thick to cook through in a skillet on the stove top. It is best to brown them in the skillet, and then finish cooking them in a 400° F oven. Be sure that your skillet is ovenproof.
Make a pan sauce to take advantage of the browned bits in the pan which are loaded with delicious flavor. Remove the meat from the skillet and tent loosely with aluminum foil to keep the meat warm. Pour off the fat from the skillet and return the skillet to the medium-high heat. Add a couple of tablespoons of minced shallots and a tablespoon of butter. Do not add the butter alone as the skillet may be too hot and the butter will burn. The shallots will act as insulation. Cook for a minute or so to soften the shallots and then add about 1 cup of an appropriate stock. Wine may seem like a good choice, but it can be too strong. Boil the stock, scraping up the bits in the pan with a wooden spoon or spatula until it is reduced to about 1/2 cup. Remove from the heat and whisk in 1to 2 tablespoons of cold butter (a tablespoon at a time) to thicken the sauce lightly.