Lamb

I.amb is a young sheep. In culinary terms the word refers to either an unweaned baby lamb or to an animal less than a year old. Animals over that age become mutton.

Great Britain, Australia and New Zea-land are probably the largest producers of lamb, both for home consumption and export, so it is generally easier to buy good quality lamb than any other meat. Lamb is also often less expensive.

When buying lamb, look for meat with a light colour, fine grain and firm texture. The fat should be creamy-white and soft.

Yellowish fat indicates an older animal and brittle white fat one that has been frozen too long. The legs and shoulders should be plump and covered with a layer of fat.

The amount of meat you buy depends on family requirements, but an approxi-mate guide would be 6 to 8 ounces of boned meat for each serving. For meat on the bone, allow 12 ounces of leg, 12 ounces to 1 pound of shoulder, saddle and loin and 8 to 12 ounces of breast or best end for each serving.

The prime cuts of lamb are the saddle, the leg and the shoulder. The saddle is the choicest and biggest cut, from which the best end and the loin are cut. These are always roasted.

The leg, which may be cut into two, the fillet end and the shank or knuckle end, is suitable for roasting, braising and, when boned, for use in casseroles, curries, kebabs and pics. The shoulder is suitable for roasting and braising and, when boned, for making kebabs.

Most cuts except the scrag end are suit-able for roasting. The breast should be boned and rolled and is usually stuffed.

The meat may either be placed on a rack, sprinkled with flour or put in a roasting i Scrag, 2 Middle neck, j Best end, 4 Loin, 5 Saddle, 6 Cutlets, 7 Loin chops, 8 Chump chops, 9 Shoulder – fillet end, 10

Shoulder – shank end, 11 Breast, 12 Leg – fillet end, 13 Leg – shank end. pan with a little dripping or fat. The meat is best roasted in a fairly hot oven,

400°F (Gas MARK 6,

200 °C) for the first

20 minutes. The heat is then reduced to warm

325°F (Gas MARK 3,

170°C). The meat should be basted every

30 minutes with the juices in the pan.

The flavour of the lamb is enhanced by the addition of a few leaves of rosemary to the cooking juices, especially if these are used for basting. Tiny slivers of garlic inserted into cuts made in the meat give it a subtle flavour and aroma.

The traditional accompaniments to roast lamb are gravy and mint sauce or redcurrant jelly. Cooking Time

20 minutes to the pound and

20 minutes over. If you are using a meat thermometer the temperature must register between

175°F and

180°F.

The cuts of lamb suitable for this method of cooking are leg, boned and stuffed shoulder and stuffed breast. The meat is first browned and then placed on a bed of sautecd vegetables with herbs and wine or stock. The dish is then covered and braised in a moderate oven, 350°F (Gas Mark 4, 180°C). (looking Time

For leg and shoulder 25 minutes per pound and for breast 15 minutes per pound.

Boiled leg of lamb is a traditional English dish. The leg is tied in a cloth and boiled in salted water with vegetables and a bouquet garni. It is traditionally served with a caper sauce. Cooking Time

15 minutes per pound plus

15 minutes. STEWING

The cuts of lamb suitable for slow cooking are breast, scrag and middle neck. As these cuts are usually very fatty, it is advisable to make the stew some time in advance, allow it to cool and skim the fat off the top. The stew is then reheated before serving.

Suitable cuts for quick cooking are loin chops, chump chops and cutlets from the best end of neck. Chops and cutlets should be trimmed of excess fat.

The grill must be preheated to very hot. If the meat is very lean brush it over with melted butter or oil. Grill the meat for 2 minutes on each side. Reduce the heat to moderate and continue cooking the chops or cutlets until they are done.

To fry chops and cutlets, use butter or oil or a mixture of the two. Fry the meat over high heat for 2 minutes on each side. Reduce the heat to moderate and continue frying, turning the chops once, until they are done.

Cooking Time

7 to

10 minutes for cutlets and

10 to minutes for chops.

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