The Meat Blog
Do You Know Lamb?
Lamb sold today has a delicious, slightly sweet flavor that pairs well with a variety of seasonings. It’s leaner, too, because of selective breeding practices and because the meat is trimmed of more excess fat before packaging. Lamb is available to meet a range of preferences-from natural or organic lamb to lamb that has been exclusively grass-fed or grain finished.
Buying, preparing, and cooking lamb is really easy. With just a few simple tips, you’ll be well on your way to a nutrient and flavor rich meal. There are five major cuts of lamb available: shoulder, rack, shank, loin and leg. Most lamb is sold in supermarkets with fat trimmed to 1/4 or 1/8 inch. You can trim this thin layer of remaining fat before or after cooking.
Preparing Lamb: Easy Does It!
Whether you buy your lamb fresh, frozen or cooked, preparations are simple and take little time.
Fresh lamb should be stored in the refrigerator or frozen immediately after purchasing.
Refrigerate fresh lamb at 4.4 0C, or below, immediately after purchasing. Ground lamb or stew meat should be used within 1 to 2 days. Lamb chops, roasts and steaks should be used within 3 to 5 days. Fresh lamb can also be frozen immediately at 17.7 0C or below.
Lamb can be frozen in its original packaging or repackaged. If you plan to freeze lamb for long periods of time, be sure to wrap the original packaging with airtight freezer wrap or place in an airtight freezer bag to prevent “freezer burn.” To maintain optimum quality, frozen lamb roasts, steaks, and chops should be used within 6 to 9 months and ground lamb within 3 to 4 months.
There are three ways to thaw frozen lamb safely: in the refrigerator, in cold water, and in the microwave.
In the Refrigerator
Once frozen lamb has thawed in the refrigerator, roasts, steaks and chops can be stored safely in the refrigerator for 3 to 5 days and ground lamb will be safe for 1 to 2 days. If you decide not to use it during this time period, you may refreeze lamb without cooking it first.
In Cold Water
When thawing in cold water, leave frozen lamb in its packaging, making sure it is air tight. If not, transfer it to a leak-proof bag. Keep the lamb submerged in cold water, changing it every 30 minutes to continue thawing. Plan to cook it immediately. It should not be re-frozen unless cooked first.
In the Microwave
As with the cold water method, when frozen lamb is thawed in the microwave, it must be cooked immediately. It should not be re-frozen unless cooked first.
Cooked lamb from take-out should be hot when bought. Be sure to use it within 2 hours (or 1 hour if the air temperature is above 32.2 0C). Otherwise, refrigerate it at 17 0C or below in shallow, covered containers and eat within 3 to 4 days cold or reheated to 74 0C. Prepared lamb can also be safely frozen and should be eaten within 2 to 3 months for best quality.
Cooking Lamb: Simple, Versatile, and Delicious!
Lamb is easy to cook and brings variety to the table. Cooking lamb is just as simple as cooking other meats, but lamb has more flavor. From grilling to roasting, braising to broiling, stir frying to slow cooking, lamb can accommodate many cooking techniques.
With a variety of cuts to choose from, there are lots of options with lamb, and it fits within any budget. Lamb is an important ingredient in many popular global cuisines—from French to Greek, Turkish, Middle Eastern, Indian and North African.
What’s the Correct Temperature to cook LAMB?
To ensure lamb remains safe throughout cooking, the USDA* recommends cooking lamb patties and ground lamb mixtures, such as meat loaf, to a minimum internal temperature of 71 0C as measured on a food thermometer. However, whole muscle meats such as roasts, steaks, and chops may be cooked to 63 0C (medium rare), 71 0C (medium), or 77 0C (well done). For approximate cooking times for use in meal planning, see the chart below.
Times are based on lamb at refrigerator temperature (4.4 0C). Remember appliances and outdoor grills can vary in heat. Use a food thermometer to check for safe cooking and doneness.