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Grilled lamb: your favorite cut/prep?

I'm planning on grilling lamb for dinner on Friday, since we are finally scheduled for some nice warm weather, and am trying to turn it into a somewhat elegant dinner party, so don't want to do kebabs (which is my usual lamb grilling m.o.). I cook lamb fairly frequently, but it's usually a roasted leg of lamb or rack of lamb, so I'm looking to broaden my lamb horizons.

What cuts of lamb are best for grilling and how should I prep it? Can I grill lamb chops successfully? How about a rack of lamb?

Thanks in advance.

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  1. I love grilled lamb. You can grill most cuts of lamb. My local grocer has bonelss butterflied leg of lamb, which is perfect for grilling. I just season let it marinate for a bit in salt, pepper, olive oil garlic and lemon juice. Since the meat is the same thickness thorugout, it grills quickly and evenly. I have also grilled rack of lamb and lamb chops./ Have to be careful with the chops- they flame up easliy, i also love lamb burgers on the grill. As it is cooking, throw some asparagus on the grill, too- makes a nice side.

    4 Replies
    1. re: macca

      I like the leg of lamb idea too. When you grill the butterflied leg, do you just lay it on the grill in a "slab"? How do you serve/present it?

      1. re: farmersdaughter

        Yes, lay it on the grill in a slab. Present by slicing and arranging on a platter with garnishes, eg lemon wedges, roasted grape tomatoes, roasted cipollini, flat leaf parsley or cilantro

        1. re: sarah galvin

          Yup- I simply slice it too, and serve on a platter. We like grape tomato/red onion salad with lemon, grilled asparagus and a bit of parsley- somtimes rice pilaf in the middle of the platter, instead of the salad.

          1. re: macca

            I like to add fresh chopped rosemary and mint to the marinade. I lay it on the grill in a single piece which means some will be well done and then becomes rarer as we move toward the thickest part---there are always a couple people in the group who like in very done or very rare and even they will have some that's "just right."Never really garnish it though if I do slice it on the bias and will add roasted potatoes to the big platter and then sprinkle all with fresh mint and rosemary.

    2. Grilled lamb chops are wonderful - they come out so tender and juicy! I use two recipes - one is my father's speciality: marinate the lamb chops all day with olive oil, lemon juice, lots of crushed garlic, lots of sliced onion and lots of freshly cracked peppercorns. My other favorite I got from an Italian grilling cookbook - salt the chops generously and while grilling baste frequently with bacon grease (it's amazing). In both cases grill over medium high heat about 4 minutes per side for 1 inch thin=ck chops.

      1. My man's half Armenian, so lamb shish kebab is on our menu a lot in the summer. Not very elegant, though. You can get shoulder chops or leg chops, both of which tend to be fairly large steaks (often 3/4 of a lb.), so they're not super-elegant either. I'd go with loin chops, bone-on -- i.e. the rack just broken up into little lollipop type chops.

        We marinate 24 hours in olive oil, fresh mint, thyme, oregano, basil, rosemary, parsley, tons of garlic and onion. No lemon, as it starts breaking down the meat after 30 minutes or so.

        I guess the lollipop chops is your most elegant option, and given that it's a cut you're familiar with, I'd say go for it.

        1. Butterflied leg, marinated in grainy mustard, soy sauce and peanut oil (equal amounts; I usually dump in the mustard and fill the mustard jar with the others. ) Best ever---and I don't like mustard ;-)

          1. If I'm grilling for a crowd I like to do boneless leg of lamb.

            for a smaller group I'll do loin chops.

            we eat a lot of shoulder chops as well. I don't usually serve these for guests unless very informally with folks I've fed numerous times. Tastes great, just not really elegant.

            Typically I'll use garlic, lemon, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper.

            For chops I'll sometime marinate with yogurt. In this case I'll vary the seasonins... along with the above. I like to use ras al-hanout with yogurt. Mint is also nice.

            1. I usually do kebabs as well. I generally just cut up leg of lamb into chunks and marinate it in lemon juice, olive oil, and Penzey's Greek seasoning for a few hours. Then I skewer it and grill it. I grill the vegetables separately because they cook at different rates. :)

              1. Butterflied leg of lamb marinaded in olive oil, lemons, onions, and herbs (thyme and rosemary work for me). I don't butterfly it to a uniform thickness, because I want some parts medium well and some parts rare. I also stab little pockets in the leg and fill them with a mix of the spices and some chopped garlic. Or you could just do like Justin Wilson and stick spring onions in the pockets. I grill over charcoal with a little wood smoke in my Kamado, but you can accomplish the same with indirect grilling in a Weber kettle.

                3 Replies
                1. re: monkeyrotica

                  Love the idea of spring onions- have used the garlic- especially on a whole leg of lamb, but have never tried it with onions. Will use this for next time.

                  1. re: macca

                    I've tried the technique with baked hams as well: stab a finger-deep pocket in the meat, insert garlic/seeded jalapeno/spring onion, and trim the excess. It gives the meat an odd spikey hairplug transplant look, but it keeps the meat really moist. Kinda like larding, but with vegetables.

                2. Chops are easy to cook and take marinades very well. I've done a curry yogurt mairande on the fly with really good results. For the times you are in the mood for kebabs ground lamb makes great kefta kebabs for dinner and really good as leftovers in pita bread sandwiches.

                  1. Loin or chump chops would probably be best for quick easy grilling. I'd normally roast a butterflied leg.

                    When you say you don't want to do kebabs - do you mean a souvlaki type kebab? If so, then how about making koftas from minced lamb (middle eastern or indian spiced) or just go for a lamb burger.

                    1. Thanks to all who posted! I ended up grilling lamb loin chops (they looked like little porterhouse steaks) cut about 1 1/2" thick. I "marinated" them in a paste of thyme, rosemary, a little garlic, salt and olive oil for about 6 hours, then grilled them. They turned out great!

                      For those who suggested other cuts, like kefta kebab, lamb burgers, butterflied leg of lamb and other kebabs, I I will definitely be grilling those too now that I am out of my roasted lamb rut, but on Friday we were having an impromptu "fancy" dinner party and serving two 20 to 25 year old Bordeaux, so I wanted something that would match the wine in terms of elegance. I served the lamb with braised English peas with butter, spring onions and tarragon, and a potato gratin with creme fraiche, dandelion greens and gruyere. It was a memorable dinner.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: farmersdaughter

                        fd, that sounds fabulous! I think loin chops are the 'classiest' cut if you want to impress at a dinner party. AND tasty. The gratin also sounds just lovely.

                        1. re: linguafood

                          The gratin was a recipe from the LA Times food section published April 2, 2008. It was excellent but the dandelion greens were pretty strong - I might use a less strong green next time or blanch them before cooking.

                          Here's the link but I think you have to register to access: http://www.latimes.com/features/food/...

                          1. re: linguafood

                            linguafood, those loin chops are ideal for a recent thread on "gnawing". Turn that almost-spent chop vertically and get the last remnants of the tenderloin and the strip with gentle tooth-pressure on the "T" bone. A succulent last bite.
                            Waste not; want not.
                            My 8-rib Colorado spring lamb rack, seasoned with rosemary, garlic,and peppercorns, then cooked on a Webber kettle ( a hot sear, then a slower smoke) with wet mesquite chips, is the only thing I can do better than any restaurant. I gnaw them, also.

                        2. I like to do loin chops, coat with olive oil, minched garlic, fresh pepper, and sea salt. Cooked rare - mmmmm

                          1. Has anyone done lamb porterhouse

                            Bobby Flay (i know! leave it alone) has a recipe in his mesa cookbook for them that uses figs and cascabell peppers which sounds spicy and sweet

                            trying to convince the wife because she thinks it will taste gamey, she does ribeyes well but we have never cooked lamb

                            what do you think?

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Dapuma

                              Some lamb has a distinctive sheepy muskiness (which I like) and some does not. I have never worried too much about why it does or does not since I like it either way.

                              I like rib chops, about $40 worth will do me, salt, pepper, a little olive oil and garlic, screaming hot grill. Medium rare.

                              1. re: Dapuma

                                Many Americans, posting here, seem to think that lamb tastes gamey and don't like it. I suppose that depends on what game they eat. For many of us in other countries it is often our most regularly eaten meat. I find game to taste gamey and lamb to taste lamby.

                                Much of the flavour of the lamb will be dependent on the breed, how it was raised, at what age it was slaughtered, how long it was then hung for and, to a lesser degree, the actual cut of meat. That means it can vary from a wonderful sweet tasting meat of young lamb, through the more developed flavours of hogget to the more robust flavours of mutton. I love it all but, to answer your opening question, I have never seen porterhouse on offer for lamb (and, indeed, have only ever seen it for beef when visitng America)

                              2. We love lamb, have it once a week usually. Lamb chops, rack of lamb, loin chops, leg of lamb, lamb sirloin, even lamb shanks all are good on the grill. For leg and rack we usually put foil underneath them and slower cook them. Usually just salt, pepper, rosemary and garlic for seasoning is all that's needed. If we're roasting we'll add some mustard too. Chops are cooked similar to beef steaks, just a little less time.

                                I prefer to braise the lamb shanks but we've grilled those too. We've never found it gamey, to us it tastes like lamb. Also never understood the mint with lamb, but we like lamb for what it is.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: nadinep

                                  We have a gourmet grocery store here called AJ's and also we have Whole Foods, perhaps having them order a cut or getting young lamb might be the way to go - i only have one shot at converting the mrs to cooking lamb at home :)