The best cuts for roasting lamb (plus tips on how)
Tips on how to roast a lamb of mouthwatering succulence.
A favourite cut of lamb for roasting. A whole leg is ideal for serving large numbers, and yields plenty of lean, tender meat. It can be divided into two joints (the fillet end has the best flavour).
Roasting joint that is inexpensive because it carries a little more fat. The bone running through the centre makes it a little more difficult to carve. Shoulder benefits from long, slow roasting, and can be boned and rolled, as can the smaller knuckle and fillet ends of the shoulder.
Best end of neck
This has the very best flavour, and is made up of lean meat. It cooks very quickly, and will feed two perfectly. It is also the most expensive cut.
Saddle of lamb
An impressive joint for roasting, but a little difficult to carve. This joint is quite large and expensive.
A lovely joint for roasting, on or off the bone, because it carries a little more fat than the leg but not as much as the shoulder. A boned loin is ideal for stuffing.
This is an inexpensive, small boneless joint made of well-flavoured meat with no waste. Ideal for two.
The most fatty of all the joints, the breast is under-used and underrated. When it has been boned and rolled around a dry, lean, well-flavoured stuffing, it produces a beautifully flavoured, tender and inexpensive roasting joint.
Tips for roasting lamb
- Let the meat come to room temperature just before roasting it.
- Always season well before cooking.
- With larger roasting joints, start the meat off at a high temperature (230°C/fan210°C/gas 8) for 15 minutes, to get the heat through to the centre of the joint, then reduce the temperature to 200°C/fan180°C/gas 6 and continue to roast for 13 minutes per 500g for rare (very pink in the middle), 18 minutes per 500g for medium (just pink nearest the bone) and 20-22 minutes per 500g for well done.
- For small joints such as a rack – which cooks through much faster – roast at the higher temperature of 230°C/fan210°C/gas 8 for the whole cooking time.
- Rest the meat before carving. This allows the meat fibres – which contract in the oven – to relax again, giving juicier meat.
What’s in a name?
- ‘Crown roast’ is simply two racks of best end, which are twisted into a circle to look like a crown.
- ‘Guard of honour’ is made of two racks of best end tied side by side, with the bones facing inwards to form an arch.
- Noisettes of lamb are made from a boned and rolled loin.
Roast lamb recipes
– A labour of love but well worth the wait. This slow roasted lamb shoulder recipe is a great alternative to the traditional Sunday roast.
– Classic traditional roast lamb is perfect for a Sunday get-together. This Mediterranean version marries juicy roast leg of lamb with aubergine Parmigiana to bring out the fuller flavours.
– The braised peas and salsa verde make this dish a lighter roast alternative.