Master an elegant roast lamb, perfect for any occasion, with a few simple steps.
Photo: John Autry
March 22, 2011
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Foolproof Roast Lamb
Roast lamb is a seasonal classic, but time, temperature, and roasting technique differ according to the cut. We'll walk you through the basics for four cuts of this delicious spring meat.
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Loin Chops: These affordable, versatile chops are quick-cooking so they're great for week night meals. Marinate over night so flavor permeates or simply season and cook. For best flavor and visual appeal, sear them and roast at high heat.
Rack of Lamb: Rack of lamb is a prime cut for special occasions. Sear in a hot pan, coat with breadcrumbs or other flavorful ingredients, and roast the lamb at high heat. Its lean meat becomes tough if overcooked, so we recommend removing it from the oven when it reaches an internal temperature of 130º. Then allow it to stand until it reaches 135º for medium-rare.
Shanks: Lamb shanks are a tough cut with loads of connective tissue that breaks down over time when cooked at a low temperature. Slow roasting renders the meat tender and succulent.
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The exterior of this cut is covered with a layer of tough connective tissue and fat. Be sure to trim away all visible fat and silver skin (that thin, pearly-looking membrane). Use a thin utility or carving knife for this job.
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With a large muscle like this, you need to go beneath the surface to ensure the flavor permeates the meat. Make small slits in the meat and insert slivers of garlic directly into them for maximum impact.
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Make a flavorful rub. We used a mixture of lemon, fresh herbs, and olive oil. Other citrus, shallots, and spices are also good options. Then sprinkle salt and freshly ground black pepper directly onto the trimmed roast.
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Let Stand and Carve
Once the lamb is cooked, let it stand at least 15 minutes before slicing. This allows the meat to relax and the juices to redistribute, ensuring you won't lose the flavor and moisture on your cutting board.
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Marinated Lamb Chops
Chermoula, a North African herb and spice paste, imparts bold flavors with minimal effort. Pair with a fresh spring salad of mint, sugar snap peas, and red onion tossed with lemon juice and olive oil.
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Herb-Crusted Rack of Lamb
Coat the lamb with Dijon mustard to add flavor and help the breadcrumbs stick. If the rib bones are not already scraped clean, ask your butcher to "French" the rack for you.
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Slow-Roasted Lamb Shanks
Coating tender slow-cooked shanks with breadcrumbs and broiling them provides a crisp and tasty contrast.