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Tough Lamb?

I roasted a 7lb boneless lamb leg encrusted with herbs and spice on the outside right on a rack at 450F for 30 mins then down to 325 for a while until I got to about 130 internal temp. It looked beautiful. Nice outer crust with just a small rim of gray meat going towards pink then a nice red right at the middle. When I sliced it, it wasn't bloody at all but it was juicy. Seriously looked like a magazine picture. Here's the problem though, even sliced fairly thin it was tough tough tough. Chewy like tender meat wrapped in a net of sinew. Did I do something wrong? I googled a lot of recipes and this seemed like the typical way to cook it. Anything I can do to rescue it now? There's still a good 75% left and our jaws got tired chewing it and it was too pricey to just dump as a failure.

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  1. Ouch, that hurts!

    I'd cut/saw/hack it into small pieces and simmer it in a soup. Once meat is overdone, that's the only thing I can think to do with it. If you simmer it a long time, it will get tender.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Isolda

      But that's the strange thing. Its not over done. its what I'd call a nice medium to med rare depending where you cut in. I'm just not sure what I did to make it tough. Hoping to learn how how to repeat the mistake here.

    2. Lamb barley vegetable soup is the way I'd go with this roast.

      Do you know where the lamb was from? (NZ, OZ or the US?) I wonder if it was a tougher piece of mutton instead of spring lamb.

      1. Sometimes you just get a clunker for a piece of meat....

        Sometimes, one man' idea of tender, is another man's idea of tough. We all have our own ideas of what is good and what is not.

        Medium Rare can be achieved in more ways than one, i.e., methods, time and temperature. Each will produce different tenderness results. Not all Medium-Rare roasts are created equal...and are not the same when it comes to chew and tenderness.

        If you take two identical cuts of beef, pork or lamb...cook one with high heat, one with moderate heat and one with low heat, each will have their own characteristics for the finished roast. The bottom line is higher heat produces more tough and chewy meat than low temperature roasting. The high heat toughens the muscle fibers due to moisture loss.. Low temperature heat allows the natural enzymes in the muscle to break down the fibers. That's not to say you can't have a good roast with high heat....but many who grew up eating well done meat are quite surprised when they eat meat roasted slowly and it is much more tender and easier to chew.

        Try a low and slow toast @ 200-250*, allow to rest for two hours and you will see and be amazed by the difference. Have a look here and you will see what I mean....It's a perfect picture and result.

        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8894...

        1. "Chewy like tender meat wrapped in a net of sinew"

          Possibly it was actually tender meat wrapped in a net of sinew. Can happen with lamb if it's not cooked sufficiently to render the sinew which, as you describe a red middle, sounds like it could be the issue.

          1. I follow cooks illustrated's method of prepping my boneless leg of lamb after my first sinewy lamb incident like this... They tell you to open up (butterfly?) the leg of lamb and use a paring knife to remove all the silver skin and other gristly bits before wrapping it back up in the net and roasting it. Even just 10 minutes of this (instead of the 30 mins they ask you to do it) helps tremendously. Give it a try?

            1 Reply
            1. re: bobabear

              I'm guessing the 'lamb' was more like 'sheep'. Sheep meat is notoriously tough. That's why 'lamb' is so popular.
              200 F is as high as I roast any meat. 'Low and slow'. Good to see more and more members here recommending 'L&S'.
              We'll convert the 475 F for four hours crowd eventually. LOL

            2. Fast & hot is fine for lamb but I agree low & slow is better for hogget & mutton. That said, I'd expect meat from the older animals to carry a premium price and be sold for exactly what it is, rather than anyone pretending it was lamb.

              1. I don't have suggestions on what to do differently, but for rescue, I'd chop it up, simmer for a bit more and use it to make a lamb-potato hash.

                1. Like steak, I find cutting across the "grain" or muscle of the meat improves tenderness.

                  1. Try cutting it into stew meat size chunks. Put it in a pot and add enough water to cover the meat. Add a curry sauce ( I use S&B brand) and let it simmer for an hour or so.

                    1. I'd do a slow braise with the leftovers. Like others have said, this seems more like mutton than lamb. 7 lbs for a boneless leg is pretty huge for lamb

                      1. Thanks for the tips all. Next time I decide to invest in such a pricey hunk of meat I'll try roasting it really low for a few hours instead. I found that when sliced thin then cooked on a frying pan until well done the meat became much more edible. We essentially made it into a kind of shaved steak pile for sandwiches.