Quick Cooking Lamb

 

The techniques of quick cooking include grilling, frying and barbecuing, where the close contact with intense heat seals the meat and retains the juices. Lean cuts of lamb such as cutlets, chops and noisettes can be cooked this way, so too can cubes of leg, shoulder and neck fillet.

COOKING CUTLETS

This simple technique from the south of France makes tender cutlets both look and taste good. Here the cutlets are cooked on the barbecue, but they can also be grilled.

1. Trim off the excess fat around the outside of the cutlets with a chef's knife.

2. Secure the loose flesh by making a slit through the fat into the flesh and inserting a rosemary sprig.

3. Place the cutlets on the oiled rack of a preheated barbecue; cook for about 3 minutes on each side.

GRILLING TIMES

The cooking times given are approximate and cook the lamb to medium. Turn the meat halfway through cooking. Let the lamb rest, loosely covered, for 5-10 minutes before serving.

BUTTERFLIED 20-30 minutes

CHOPS 8-10 minutes

CUTLETS 6 minutes

KEBABS 6-8 minutes

NOISETTES 10 minutes

 

MAKING KEBABS

Lamb is an excellent meat for making kebabs because it is lean and tender and cooks quickly. Leg of lamb can be used, so too can shoulder and neck fillet, both of which have a light marbling of fat that helps baste the meat during cooking.

1. Cut trimmed lamb into 3 cm cubes and mix with the marinade of your choice.

2. Thread the marinated cubes on oiled skewers, leaving space in between to ensure even cooking.

3. Place kebabs on the oiled rack of a preheated barbecue and cook, turning, for 6-8 minutes. Alternatively, cook the kebabs under a hot grill, about 5 cm away from the heat, for the same length of time as before.

MARINATING LAMB

Lamb can be grilled or barbecued with just a light brushing of olive oil, herbs and seasonings, but a marinade adds flavour and moistens the meat. Even one hour of marinating makes a difference, but overnight marinating is best.

• Make an acid-based marinade with oil, wine vinegar, thyme, oregano and tarragon, plus Dijon mustard.

• Add garlic, turmeric, cumin seeds, ground cloves, cardamom and cinnamon to yogurt for an Indian taste.

• Blend yogurt with paprika and a little cayenne pepper sharpened with lime juice.

COOKING A BUTTERFLIED LEG OF LAMB

The beauty of this technique is that the meat can be cooked in a quarter of the time it takes to roast a whole leg of lamb. Here barbecuing is shown, but the lamb can also be grilled.

1. Rub seasonings and olive oil over the lamb. Place, meat-side down, on the oiled rack of a pre-heated barbecue.

2. Cook for 20-30 minutes, turning once, until the outside is charred and the meat is tender when pierced.

3. Put the lamb on a board, cover loosely with foil and let rest 10 minutes. Carve crosswise into slices.

SAUTEING TENDER CUTS OF LAMB

Use this technique for escalopes cut from a leg of lamb as shown here, or for noisettes cut from the saddle. Both of these are very lean and tender, perfect for quick pan-frying. Escalopes take 2-3 minutes on each side, noisettes take 4-5 minutes.

1. Add lamb to foaming oil and butter and sauté for 4-6 minutes, turning once.

2. Transfer the lamb to a serving plate. Add double cream and fresh thyme to the pan juices and simmer, stirring, until reduced by one-third. Spoon over the lamb.

PAN-FRYING IN CAUL

Pig's caul is used by professional chefs for pan-frying delicate meat such as the small nuggets of lamb shown here. The caul protects the meat and melts into it during cooking, making it moist.

Wrap about 25 g caul around each nugget of lamb. Heat oil and butter in a sauté pan until the butter is foaming. Add the lamb and pan-fry for 4-5 minutes on each side. Drain well before serving.

CHARGRILLING

As an alternative to grilling and barbecuing, chargrilling is perfect for quick cooking small cuts. Chump chops are shown here; noisettes can also be chargrilled.

Brush a stovetop grill pan with olive oil and heat until very hot but not smoking. Add the chops and cook for 10-15 minutes until tender, turning once.

STOVE TOP GRILL

This ridged cast-iron pan is good for cooking meat on top of the stove. Even at extremely high temperatures it is virtually non-stick, so needs only a very small amount of oil. The ridges on the pan produce seared markings on the meat similar to those achieved on a barbecue.