Uncommon lamb cuts
- Bada Bing Jul 11, 2011 09:21 AM
The annual 4-H agricultural fair just ended, and every year that brings some unusual cuts of lamb (also beef) to my local supermarket. Today I bought three portions of lamb breast (bone in and about 1.25-1.5 pounds each). I also bought three or four neck pieces. I initially thought that the neck cuts were cross-cut shanks from a larger critter, like veal, but the meat guys clarified that they're lamb neck portions.
Still not sure what I'll do with either of these cuts, even after reviewing a few CH threads. One thing that's not clear to me from existing threads is whether these two cuts would be better cooked in different ways, or whether, instead, they would respond well to being cooked together. I am supposing that longer cooking (esp. braising) might be optimal for each of these, or...?
Where I am, both the cuts you mention are very common - readily on sale in supermarkets, butchers and so on.
We'd usually roast a breast - skin goes very nicely crispy but it is a fatty cut. The other option is to treat it in a way similar to you might with pork spare ribs.
Neck is something for long cooking - a stew or casserole, perhaps. Lots of ideas here:
The lamb breast is extremely fatty with only a little meat. Usually it is roasted to render out some of the fat. Oftentimes you'll find folks stuffing the breast with a seasoning mixture as well.
Necks do best with a braise.
I use lamb neck to make Libyan Soup...I think the recipe is from the NYTimes years ago. Quite deelish. I just looked it up and, although there's a recipe that looks just like mine, it calls for lamb breast and not neck.
Lamb breast is best roasted/braised with stuffing. There's lots of fat and not so much meat.
Breast of lamb is *extremely* fatty and can be really gamey and tough as well. As a result, I don't like using it much for just those reasons. Lamb neck is a better choice IMO and it's sometimes less expensive as well. Best preparations for lamb neck would be in a braise or boiled (yes, BOILED).
I've used lamb neck in tomato ragu, curries, and even in soups such as Scotch broth. All excellent results.