Lamb is a favorite for springtime holiday dinner tables
Versatile and flavorful, lamb is enjoyed across the globe and is especially popular come springtime holidays. Throughout the Middle East and parts of Eastern Europe, lamb has traditionally been enjoyed once the weather warms and the season of fertility renews.
Christians, who refer to Jesus Christ as the “Lamb of God” pay homage to the Easter miracle and often dine on lamb as part of their celebrations. Depending on how they interpret Jewish law, Jews may or may not include lamb at their traditional Passover seder.
Lamb is a tender and tasty meat that can be prepared in various ways, including roasted, braised, stewed, broiled, and grilled.
To prepare lamb well, it is extremely important to follow safety guidelines concerning food cross-contamination. Undercooked and raw meats may contain E. coli bacteria; therefore, lamb should not come in contact with other foods that will be served uncooked.
Many cuts of lamb are very tender so they will not require long marinating times to help break down the fibers in the meat. Nor does lamb need a lot of prep time. In fact, a simple seasoning of herbs, garlic or a spice rub will provide substantial flavor. According to The Daily Meal, “New Zealand or Australian lamb has a milder flavor than domestic lamb and too much seasoning can overwhelm the delicate flavor of the lamb in these cases.”
While preferences differ, many chefs attest that a bone-in cut of lamb will be more flavorful. However, boneless cuts are easier to carve. Similarly, cooks have strong opinions on the doneness of lamb, with some preferring rare meat while others like theirs well-done. Fortunately, lamb can be juicy and tender at a wide range of cooking temperatures, so home chefs can decide how they want to prepare their lamb. The average temperature for roasting lamb to medium doneness will fall between 135 F to 145 F, with the USDA recommending at least 145 F as the desired temperature. Lamb roasts at a rate of 20 minutes per pound when cooked at a temperature of 325 F.
Use a thermometer to accurately measure the internal temperature of the lamb. Remove the lamb when it is roughly five degrees below the desired temperature, as the meat will continue to cook even after it is removed from the oven, skillet or grill. After cooking. let the lamb rest for around 10 minutes for thinner cuts and 20 minutes for roasts or leg of lamb to allow the juices to redistribute.
Certain flavors pair especially well with lamb, including citrus, mint, garlic, oregano, and curry. Lamb can be served with potatoes, couscous, polenta, vegetables, and even pasta.
– Metro Service