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Feb 28, 2011 10:12 AM

Lamb for dinner

I will be preparing lamb for a dinner Friday, and I don't have lots of experience with it. It will be me, husband, 2 boys, and a friend from out of town.
Questions for you all:
1. American vs. Imported (australia)? I've only had imported, but I called a local butcher and they have american available. Rack is $5 more per lb. Shanks only $1 more per lb. than my regular grocer.
2. Rack vs. less expensive cuts? I've only had shank, and shoulder chops ever. How does rack compare? Flavor/ texture?? If I do shank or shoulder, clearly I know I need to braise...but just wondering if I should do a rack for our guest. Seems simple enough for prep.
I'm guessing 2 racks will be enough for 3 adults and 2 kids, so should only be like $20 more for the American vs. Import. Rack would be like $30 more than shanks.
3. Any fabulous recipes? So far I've looked at shanks braised in red wine, or rack with a creamy egg sauce from Lobels Meat and Wine.

Thanks all!

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  1. I'm putting this out there only because I know lots of people who don't like lamb. Are you sure your guest likes lamb? If that's not an issue, I would go with a half leg slow braised in white wine. Cooks for a very long time until tender as last minute prep.

    1. Nothing is yummier than braised lamb shanks and they'll actually be better if prepared the night before, which is handy when you are entertaining. It is a very homey meal though and I'm not clear if you are trying to have something fancier. Rack of lamb is very impressive indeed. It has nothing like the texture of braised lamb shanks, which as you know is meltingly tender lamb stew. A properly-roasted rack of lamb is much like a very high-quality roast beef in texture. It is quite straightforward in prep, but very last-minute if that matters. Not sure how much your boys eat but usually figure a rack is two servings. I personally do not have strong feelings on imported versus domestic, I buy what looks best in the case. For shanks, the Mario Batali recipe from Molto Mario with tomatoes, olves and oranges is delicious.

      1 Reply
      1. re: GretchenS

        Three of my favorites. Italian style: have a leg of lamb butterflied, marinate for a day or 2 in your favorite Italian dressing and throw on the Weber grill. Persian style: slash deep cuts into a leg of lamb and marinate a day or 2 in yogurt, olive oil and diced fresh garlic clove and bake.
        An Indian lamb, yogurt and spinach curry.
        Also Navajo style: rasted leg of lamb served on fry bread w/ green chiles, or in a red chile sauce.

      2. @Escondido, Yes, our guest loves lamb. My own family, not so fond...
        I don't mind a humble cut...not trying to be super formal here, just a great cooked meal! I like the night before prep idea!
        Thanks everyone!

        1 Reply
        1. re: mrsgreer

          If you have family members who don't like lamb, go with a North Aftican stew. The spices in Moroccan or Tunisian recipes make a delicious stew. I get my butcher to cut off all the fatty parts. You can also do this yourself. Not authentic, in the Maghreb they serve lamb stews with the bones in, but I prefer not to make my guests cut out the meat and fat. This can work for people who don't like hot food. Use one of the many recipes that emphasize cumin, coriander. Many recipes also use apricot or oter dried fruit for flavor. And I find that non-lamb eaters love lamb served this way.

        2. I love lamb and IMHO, buy domestic! I just do not like Australian/New Zealand lamb....too gamey for my liking.

          I think lamb shanks would be perfect and there is a yummy recipe on Oven Roasted Lamb Shanks with Roasted Tomatoes and Toasted Orzo (Bobby Flay):

          I also really like lamb loin chops and I prepare them very simple with some evoo, salt, pepper, garlic and fresh rosemary. I run them under the broiler between 6-10 minutes a side depending on the thickness.

          1 Reply
          1. re: hto44

            We eat lamb blade or shoulder chops around here nearly weekly. My exotic recipe involves tossing some Lee & Perrins on them 10 minutes prior to grilling. I sometimes use smoked paprika instead. These are thin chops, so I grill 3-4 minutes per side. They're wonderful, and they honestly need very little seasoning.

            We roll racks of lamb in a mixture of fresh garlic, fresh rosemary, and breadcrumbs, and roast in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes. If you have 2 racks, you can interlace the bones to make a really pretty presentation. We generally toss new potatoes that have been partially cooked in the microwave into the roasting pan to finish in the lamb juices with the lamb.

            Whole legs of lamb get coated in a paste made of garlic, rosemary, olive oil, and a tiny bit of flour and sit in their paste for 6 hours or more prior to baking. I made one of these for my homebrew club's last holiday banquet and had people petty much scraping the last bits of crust out of the dish at the end. It's an insanely good dish, but you have to be a garlic lover because the whole house is going to fill with the aroma.

          2. We love lamb and especially the lamb shanks. We get big, beautiful hind lamb shanks (American) at a Local BJ's club. I have two favorite ways of preparing them:


            Season shanks and brown either in hot oil, on the grill or in a 450 oven for 20 - 25 minutes.


            1 cup orange juice
            zest of an orange
            2 Tbls teriyaki sauce
            2 tsp curry powder

            Place browned shanks in a covered pot, cover with orange-curry sauce, cover and simmer for 1 1/4 hours or until tender.


            Season shanks and brown in a 450 oven 20 - 25 minutes.

            Reduce heat to 325.

            Then, arrange the browned shanks around the pan surrounded by 6 sprigs of rosemary
            and peeled cloves of garlic from 1 or 2 heads.

            Add 1 1/2 cups stock or red wine (I use a combination of stock, dry red wine and port), seal tightly in heavy duty foil, and place in a 325 oven. Cook for a couple of hours until the shanks are very tender.

            When tender, return them briefly to a hot oven to crispen them on the outside while you adjust the sauce.

            My favorite starch to accompny lamb is bulgur wheat pilaf; it's easy (2 parts chicken stock to one part bulgur plus whatever you care to add -- onions, raisins, etc.), and it cooks quickly. It also pairs well for the sauces that remain after cooking either of these dishes. Steamed broccoli rounds out the meal.