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Cooking Lamb for Easter- what cut for a group of 10

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We are hosting Easter this year, and have decided to serve lamb.

The butcher where we will be buying our lamb offers the following cuts:
whole leg of lamb
lamb chops
lamb shoulder chops
lamb mince
lamb shank
boneless lamb
rack of lamb

What cut do you suggest, and how should we prepare it. I would rate our cooking skills as good, so nothing overly complicated. Ideally, will be cooking in the oven, but we do have a rotisserie on our BBQ that we could use if you thought that was amazing...

I need to order within the next day or two, so really appreciate your help!

How much will I need to order? We would want there to be leftovers too.

Thanks so much!

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  1. Shanks can be nice if you want to do a braised dish - if you can get relatively small shanks, each person gets their own for a lovely and elegant presentation. Leg of lamb is classic and delicious prepared any number of ways, and a large one should feed 10. Rack of lamb is awesome but at $15/lb (or more) it can get pricey if you're feeding a crowd.

    1. I do a butterflied leg on the grill. I'm thinking one might feed ten but not sure. It cooks in, like, 15 or 20 minutes IIRC.

      17 Replies
      1. re: c oliver

        I have done it this way too, with different marinades - totally delicious, and quick. I usually find whole boneless legs at Costco that are around 4.5 lbs, which should feed 10 if you have other sides - I doubt there would be a ton of leftovers though.

        1. re: biondanonima

          I get mine at Costco also but couldn't remember the weight so, yes, that should feed 10.

          1. re: biondanonima

            On the plus side with grilling are the great charred flavor and the fact that on a boned leg there are thick parts and thinner parts so there will be rare pieces, medium pieces, etc., so everyone gets it the way he/she likes it.

            On the minus side, what if it rains?

            1. re: junescook

              I do it on my stovetop cast iron grill pan all the time (one of the ones that spans two burners) - it's still delicious even though you don't have that outdoor charcoal flavor.

              1. re: biondanonima

                There is a puddle beginning to form down my shirt and onto the floor as I've been thinking about all this grilled lamb, OMG! I'll do some wheat pilaf and roasted vegetables. I may just go to the fridge and have a spoonful of mint jelly.

              2. re: junescook

                To questions like this, my frequent response is "that's why god created umbrellas!" But, honestly, we grill in snow storms and driving rain. Nothing deters us :) I also think I'm going to be picking up one of those boneless legs very, very soon.

                1. re: junescook

                  Yep. I love the crusty bits/burnt ends that come from grilling a leg of lamb.

                  As an alternative to mint jelly, I would propose applying, before cooking, a herb paste that incorporates some fresh mint. The 1997 edition of the Joy of Cooking has a good example of such a paste, which includes a variety of fresh herbs (e.g., mint, parsley, rosemary, thyme), black pepper, (or possibly crushed red chile), garlic, olive oil, and a goodly amount of salt.

                  1. re: hohokam

                    I actually like to make a mint pesto with lamb - mint jelly weirds me out. I make it just like regular pesto, only with mint instead of basil (and sometimes walnuts instead of pine nuts). Delicious. Lamb is also fantastic with olive tapenade.

                    1. re: biondanonima

                      Mint pesto and tapenade sound like mighty fine accompaniments to me. :-)

                      1. re: biondanonima

                        That does sound excellent. I'll have to check the yard to see if we've got any mint up yet.

                  2. re: biondanonima

                    4.5lb is not enough for ten people in my opinion. always much better to have lots than not enough when it comes to company. Normally I budget around 1 lb of meat per person so I'd cook two especially if they are big eaters and mostly adults.

                    BTW I'd go with leg of lamb...more flavour on the bone and nicer to look at when you carve it.

                    and get yourself some ED Smith Mint Jelly to go with it.

                    1. re: LUV_TO_EAT

                      A POUND of meat per person?!?!?!?!? Holy cow - oops :) I'm sorry, but that sounds just too-too. And I'm a huge carnivore and lamb lover

                      1. re: c oliver

                        If I want leftovers I usually plan about a pound of raw meat per person as well. You lose ~25% of the weight when you cook it, and if you figure that most adults will eat 8oz of cooked meat, that only gives you 4oz leftover per person. And now I want a leftover lamb sandwich!!!!!!

                        1. re: biondanonima

                          I don't disagree with you. But just was trying to keep the math uncomplicated and base it on one meal for ten people. Next time I do one on the grill I'll try to remember to weight pre and post. With it cooking that fast, I'd be suprised if it lost much weight at all.

                          And I really agree about mint jelly. I don't get and I've never gotten it. But the pesto sounds terrific.

                          1. re: c oliver

                            Should add to my comment that I like my roasts on the bone. So Leg of Lamb on the bone, not boneless. Similarly Prime Rib with bones etc.

                            So 10 lbs with bone in is not really 1 lb of meat per person.

                        2. re: c oliver

                          yeah, I think I'd lean more towards a pound per person too with whole leg of lamb. After cooking it would weigh less and depending on how it is trimmed, there's bone and there's always that lump of fat in the middle and the skin and tendon bits. You want to have enough for seconds. That's always nice when serving a group.

                          1. re: hillsbilly

                            It's been so many, many years since I've done a bone-in leg of lamb that it never even crosseed my mind.

                  3. For a big group, I'd go with shanks or a leg roast.

                    Shanks can be kind of space-intensive, so if you're planning on cooking 1 shank per guest, you'll want to figure out if you can reasonably make room for 10 shanks in your oven, given the space needed to cook any other dishes you might be making.

                    I like the idea of cooking a leg on the grill. On a Weber kettle type grill cooking a tied/rolled leg can be fairly simple, even without a rotisserie.

                    For 10 people, I would look for a boneless leg in the 5-6 lb range, but if you really want leftovers, you might want to buy two smallish leg roasts (~4 lbs each) instead.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: hohokam

                      I think shanks (with all that bone waste) would be awfully pricy for 10 people, at 3.99 #.

                      I'm with the boned whole leg--the ones at our local Costco have been large lately--and run about $18-20 bucks. You could always get a boned leg, mince it with some veggies and herbs and make sausages to BBQ. Then it would go even further!

                    2. We love lamb and I make lamb shanks at least every two weeks. What I have noticed that the price of lamb has shot up in the last couple of weeks, at least down here in CT.

                      C Oliver laid out the options nicely. Roasting a whole leg would probably be the simplest. Buterflying and stuffing would make for nice flavor and easy carving (actually they are readily available already boned). I'll be cooking for five and since braising is my thing I will do shanks. I can get the five into my big roasting pan. Another nice thing about braised dishes is that they can be done the day ahead. Then the jus can be chilled, fat separated, etc. and on Sunday the shanks heated and all else prepared.

                      1. If I was cooking for ten people I wouldn't do shanks cause it would be so expensive, I would do a lamb stew using shoulder. This being spring I would use white wine in the braise.

                        1. Thanks everyone- these suggestions are great! My husband really likes the idea of grilling- and it will free up the oven for everything else, so this sounds great. Will look up the Joy of Cooking recipe that was mentioned. Need to order it tomorrow, so they will have it ready for Easter. I bought a 'groupon' type certificate to a local butcher, so cost is not too bad.
                          Love the ideas!

                          1. For a crowd that size, I would consider getting both a leg and a shoulder. Roast the leg in the oven with garlic and herbs and braise the shoulder on the stove in white wine and chicken stock (with rosemary and pearl onions for good measure). You get the effect of two very different presentations without a whole lot of actual cooking effort. 7-8 pounds of bone-in meat should be sufficient for 10 people, but it is likely you'll end up having to buy a bit more than that due to the typical sizes of these cuts.

                            Although I really enjoy shanks, they're not a good value for feeding a big group relative to a roast. You'd have to buy 10-12 pounds of shanks to get an equivalent amount of meat.

                            1. I wish we were having leg of lamb for Easter dinner, but only my wife, a grandson and I will eat it. Thus we will not have it. The others at our table do not eat this delicious meat.

                              Have your meat cutter (a butcher is the person who slaughters the animal) remove the bone from a leg of lamb. When you get home with that meat, unroll it, season it with dried oregano, dried basil, and whatever other seasonings you wish, then roll it and tie it with 'butcher's twine before roasting. Read a good cookbook about meat cookery or look up the method on line. Since you are having many diners, maybe you need 2 legs.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: ChiliDude

                                Sigh, I remember when lamb shanks were 20c each! Our shanks here in Australia don't sound as expensive as yours (yet) so I would do them for a group, portioned, easy to cook and can look very elegant but second choice is a whole shoulder. It's not as pretty but its low maintenance, cheap and delicious. Can keep warm and wait for late comers.

                                I would slow braise with greek flavours, loads of garlic and oregano, just stick it in the oven on low and forget it then treat it like pulled pork. It can be made prettier with fresh oregano scattered on top or some flowering rosemary. I think it was Nigella who sprinkled pomegranate seeds all over hers.

                                And yes, mint pesto sounds excellent. I love mint jelly but pesto would be a nice change. Love the idea of pine nuts and garlic with mint.

                                Shocked, report back and let us know how you went!

                                1. re: hillsbilly

                                  Lamb shanks here are now $4.99/lb everywhere I can find them. Still, they're so good.

                              2. Butterflied Grilled Leg of Lamb

                                Every Easter, I get a leg of lamb, butterfly it, then marinate overnight.

                                To marinate, first poke holes in the lamb and shove a sliver of a garlic clove and a leaf or two of rosemary into each hole.

                                Then make a rub with:

                                1 tsp Beau Monde seasoning, or other favorite all-purpose seasoning
                                zest from 1 lemon
                                1 tsp oregano
                                1/4 C minced fresh parsley

                                Rub this very well into the lamb. Then put it into a large heavy plastic freezer bag, or a non-reactive pan (like glass) with a tightly sealable lid.

                                Then mix a marinade:

                                1/2 C olive oil
                                2 T soy sauce
                                1/4 c dry sherry
                                2 bay leaves, cracked

                                Pour this into the plastic bag with the lamb, or over it in your glass pan.

                                Seal it well and put it into the fridge to marinate overnight, turning the lamb a few times as it marinates.

                                This makes enough marinade for an average 4-5 lb leg. If I've got more folks coming, I either get a much bigger leg, or two of the smaller ones, and double the marinade recipe. I can and do butterfly them myself, but it's far easier if you can get a butcher to do it for you. (I use the lamb bone for stew later in the week, or freeze it for use another time.)

                                Then we either grill it outside, with the fat side up, or broil it in the oven, fat side up.

                                My standard amount of boneless raw meat is 1/2 lb per person. Once I've figured that out, I always add a pound (sometimes two depending upon the size of the group), just in case. But it's been my experience that the folks that eat more than a half-pound are easily balanced out by the folks that eat far less.