Love lamb, but don't know where to start when it comes to cooking with it? Former MasterChef contestant Hayden Quinn shares his top 7 tips.
The stats are in: the average Aussie eats 627 kg of lamb in a lifetime, making it a staple item in our everyday diet. Yet how many of us actually know the best techniques or cuts to use? Hayden Quinn shares his expert knowledge and love of lamb with these top 7 tips.
I guess I love lamb because it has a really distinct and full flavour. When you're eating lamb, you just can't mistake it for anything else. It's so versatile. You can do so much with it, and lamb when cooked right can really take you to another world.
I love roasting lamb (I use the LambRoast app for all my cooking times). I guess it's a bit of a traditional thing, but these days there are cuts of lamb than can speed that cooking time up. A little lamb mini roast is perfect for mid-week or for smaller sittings.
Don’t cook the leg for hours and hours like your grandma used to! It doesn’t need to be dry and grey. It’s all about having nice pink lamb when you carve into it. A couple of quick tips:
- Remove the roast from the fridge about 15 minutes before you want to start cooking
- Use the correct size roasting dish (about the same size as the cut you are roasting) and place the lamb on a roasting rack in the dish
- Cook for the time recommended in the LambRoast app, basting occasionally with juices.
- Monitor the temperature of the meat while cooking
- Always allow the roast to rest before serving and carving
A lamb mini roast cooks nice and quick (20-25 minutes per 500g), but then there are cutlets which you want to cook medium-rare so they are nice and pink inside. They don't need much time for cooking.
There's also a Meat Cuts app (a must-have on my phone) which basically runs you through all the cuts of beef and lamb, and the best cooking methods, times and recipes.
As a general rule, opt for the following cuts of lamb to ensure the best result:
- Pan-frying = cutlet
- Grilling = ribs
- Barbecuing = forequarter chop
- Roasting = shoulder, long and slow
- Slow-cooking = shanks or neck
4. Best served
This very much comes down to personal preference, however I wouldn't be serving people lamb on the rare side, as it just wouldn't do it any justice! Medium-rare is the way to go for me, and for this you would be looking at more of the premium cuts, like the rack or cutlet. For well-done, we would be talking more about long and slow-cooking where the lamb just falls off the bone, like a lamb shank or shoulder of lamb.
5. Leaner meats
To prevent leaner meats from drying out, it's all about getting the cooking times right. Ensure you don't overcook the meat so that it doesn't lose all it's juiciness.
6. Resting time
With all red meats, this is one of the most important tips, especially for those cuts that you're cooking medium-rare. To rest, you want to cover your lamb loosely with foil and rest for about one minute per 100g of meat.
Lamb loves all sorts of flavour. The classic would be garlic and rosemary, but lamb also takes well to Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavours. Think ground coriander, cumin, ginger - so good!
For delicious dishes this winter, check out our collection of lamb recipes here.