Lamb has experienced a surge of popularity in the past few years among home chefs. This fine and delicate meat is typically imported and relatively expensive, so if you are preparing for a grilled lamb dinner, you want to get it right. Follow these guidelines for success with your grilled lamb.
General Information About Lamb on the Grill
Many remember a not-so-distant past when lamb was a common occurrence on the family table. Several decades later, the evolution of industrial food has convinced us that every meal ought to have a large chunk of meat at its center. Beef and pork are ideal for this meal style, with their large muscles and forgiving meat to fat ratio. It is helpful that beef and pork come from large animals that can be raised on a diet consisting almost entirely of corn based products. Lamb began to lose popularity because the meat is leaner and easier to overcook, and a single animal does not produce the volume of meat offered by cows or pigs. As a result, cows and pigs began to replace sheep on American farms, relegating lamb to only the finest menus – and budgets.
With the recent renewed interest in healthy eating and sustainable farming, there is a corresponding renewed interest in lamb as a part of the regular meal. Many are realizing that one does not need twelve to sixteen ounces of meat in an evening meal to gain satisfaction. Now a four to six ounce lamb chop is plenty when accompanied with a variety of other side dishes. The smaller meat size also helps with the budgetary concerns of putting lamb on the table.
Best Grilling Practices for Lamb
Lamb is a delicate meat. A novice outdoor chef will quickly realize that this meat must be treated differently from beef. Because it is a leaner meat, lamb should be cooked over a grill with maximum heat distribution. This means the charcoal ought to be burning evenly. The best way to experience lamb is just the way it is, with minimal flavor added or taken away. This is a premium type of meat that can speak for itself without the help of steak seasoning or fruity sauces.
At least 45 minutes before putting your lamb on the grill, season it with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Wrap the meat in plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until about 15 minutes before cooking. Stabilize the grill at medium high heat and make sure that it is burning evenly before placing the lamb on your grill. Cook the lamb to medium rare, which will happen relatively quickly.
Final Considerations for Lamb on the Grill
As has been mentioned on this site before, one of the most important steps in grilling is to allow your meat to rest. Lamb is no exception. Be sure to rest your meat for at least 5 minutes before cutting into it. This allows the juices to soak back into the meat fibers, tenderizing and flavoring your meat.
Lamb can be an intimidating meat to grill. It is expensive and people expect a lot of you when you announce that lamb will be the main course for dinner. Remember to keep it simple with minimal seasonings and a quick sear on the grill for an elegant end result.
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