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Nick Santa Maria Group

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Jackson Lopez
Jackson Lopez

How To Buy Lamb

This quick tutorial and accompanying video Trimming Lamb walks you through how to buy, trim, and prepare lamb rib chops using a technique known as frenching. Then once you've got that mastered, grab our recipe for Grilled Lamb Chops with bistecca oil and put your new skills to work.

how to buy lamb

Picking out the best available piece of lamb meat is often a difficult choice. Because lamb is less common than other meats, many people do not know how to make an informed decision. There are several things to consider.

Buy during the right season. Contrary to popular opinion, spring lambs might not always be the`ideal choice. Lambs available during the spring were bred out of season, and are often raised in an artificial environment. Lamb sold during the summer is more likely to have been raised under the ideal conditions.

Insist on a quality source. As with any meat, lamb is the freshest and best for cooking when purchased from a local butcher. At the very least, check the package at the grocery store to make sure the meat has not been imported from another country.

Examine the meat's color. When choosing lamb, use the same guidelines you would use for beef. The meat should be a healthy red color; not pale, but also not dripping with blood. Look for marbling--the more marbling the meat has, the more tender and flavorful it will be.

Heed the USDA rating. The USDA grades lamb meat on the following scale: prime, choice, good, utility and cull. These are reliable ratings, and should give you a good idea of what to expect from the meat you choose.

The leg of lamb can be purchased in various sizes and on average, the whole leg weighs around 6 to 10 pounds, yielding enough meat to serve a large dinner of about 8 to 10 guests. When prepping a boneless leg of lamb, it will need to be tied with twine before cooking. A bone-in leg does not require tying, but it takes longer to cook.

The loin roast is among the most revered cuts of the lamb, as it is known to produce the tenderest pieces of meat. The loin can be broken down into smaller loin chops (the signature t-bone steaks) or a roast. Use a dry heat method, such as grilling or roasting, to develop the best flavor from this rich cut of meat. Woodsy herbs such as rosemary, thyme, and sage complement this cut well, as does a splash of fresh citrus.

The shoulder is probably the most affordable cut, but the meat needs a little extra TLC (and cook time) because it is relatively fatty and chewy. This is usually where the stew meat is cut from. If you have any favorite recipes that call for stew beef, lamb stew meat will be an excellent substitute for change of pace. The shoulder is also delicious when smoked in a smoker or grill.

Lamb is a flavorful and versatile meat that is enjoyed by people all around the globe, from India to N