Lamb - which refers to meat from a sheep less than one year old
- was once a delicacy that could be enjoyed only in the spring. New
farming techniques mean it can be purchased year round - which is a
good thing, because it's a sumptuous choice for summer grilling.
The complex flavour of lamb is mellowed by cooking it on a grill.
Lamb also takes well to a variety of barbecue-friendly sauces,
rubs, marinades and accompaniments. And its high fat content means
it's guaranteed to stay moist and tender when grilled - providing
you don't overcook it!
Young lamb meat should be pink and firm with white marbling. The
bone should be pink and porous. Older lamb cuts tend to be leaner
and lighter red, and the bone will be dryer looking but should
still be firm and slightly moist. Always choose fresh lamb that is
packed tightly and shows no signs of dryness or discoloration. In
particular, avoid lamb that is turning grey or dull brown and don't
buy lamb with yellow marbling. Grocery stores often have a small
selection of lamb products, such as chops and legs, but a butcher
will offer a wider variety of grill-friendly lamb cuts.
Storing, Handling and Preparing
Uncooked lamb must always be kept cool. Make sure your
refrigerator is between 0°C and 5°C (32°F and 41°F). Never
defrost lamb at room temperature. Instead, thaw it in the
refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave if you plan to
cook it immediately
Use ground lamb and stew chunks within two days and chops and
roasts within three to five days. If freezing lamb, cover the
original packaging with airtight freezer wrap and use within three
to four months.
It can be a challenge to determine when lamb is done, and an
overcooked rack of lamb or roast can be very tough - and sometimes
even inedible. To avoid this expensive mistake, use a meat
thermometer. Don't cut into the meat to check if it's done. The
juices will run out prematurely and the lamb will become dry. When
using a thermometer, remove the lamb from the grill when it has
reached an internal temperature range that is within five to ten
degrees of your desired temperature - which should be 160 F (71.1
C) for medium and 170 F (176.6) for well done.
Try grilling lamb chops, lamb burgers and even boneless lamb
roasts or legs over direct heat. But watch out for flare ups -
these can be avoided by cooking roasts and legs in foil or
carefully trimming off any excess fat.
Note: the recipe for the lamb dish pictured above can be found