There is an abundance of recipes for lamb from roasting lamb to braised lamb it can be cooked in a number of ways. Lamb is a sheep that is less than a year old, it is typically slaughtered between the ages of 4 and 12 months.

Lamb in Britain is only so named if is in its first year, after that it becomes known as hogget or old-season lamb. Once the sheep is over two years old, its meat becomes known as mutton. Early season lamb is very tender and quite pale compared to older meat; the older the lamb, the deeper the colour of the meat. The length of time that the lamb has been hung and the breed of the sheep are both factors to consider in terms of meat colour. Around 8 days is the best amount of time for the lamb to hang.

How is lamb farmed?

Lamb meat is available all year round. While the majority of sheep are farmed non-intensively, outside, there still are some concerns about the farming of the sheep. The Red Tractor logo marks that the farmers have adhered to some strict regulations for hygiene, health and safety, animal welfare and environmental impact. Rare breeds of sheep are kept in good conditions, which makes the meat cost more than that of commercial lamb. However, the difference in taste is noticeable, tasting like a cross between lamb and venison as it is dark, lean and closely textured. Some British rare breeds include: Boreray, Dorset Horn, Greyface Dartmoor, Teeswater, Wensleydale, Whitefaced Woodland, Soay and Dorset Down, among others.

What to look for when buying lamb

When buying lamb, choose the leanest cuts possible, they should have firm, creamy-white fat. Excessive fat, or fat that looks crumbly, brittle of yellow, should be avoided as this means the meat is old. Large cuts of lamb are often covered in a white papery membrane which will need removing before cooking. These larger cuts for roasting can last up to five days if refrigerated properly. Smaller cuts such as joints, chops and steaks can keep for two to three days; small cuts such as mince and offal are best eaten on the day of purchase but can last one or two days.

How to cook lamb

Many cuts of lamb are available depending on what you want to cook. Any cut of lamb can be praised or pot-roasted. The best cuts for roasting lamb are those such as the leg, shoulder, saddle, rump and loin. Roast lamb works with a range of flavours, besides the classic mint sauce, strong autumnal flavours are a good accompaniment to the meat. Piercing the skin a number of times and putting rosemary into the holes can give a roast lamb a surge of flavour. The cut from the back of the animal, the saddle of lamb, also works well when roasted. Braised lamb works well cooked gently in wine, stock or tomato juices, keeping the meat tender and succulent. Marinades are also great with lamb, as this not only adds flavour to the meat but tenderises it too. Lamb is available minced, great for pies and burgers. Classic recipes for lamb include shepherd’s pie, lamb curries and stew and kebabs. Lamb is very common in Greece. Greek lamb is mostly served grilled or roasted, a popular dish is lamb moussaka.

Lamb Recipes: