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Choosing, Handling & Storage

Choosing

Recognising high-quality lamb is as important as deciding on the right cut. Look for meat with a light to dark red colour and a layer of fat which is creamy white (having some fat will help the flavour to come out well in your cooked dish). Very young lambs (milk lambs) will have a pale-pink flesh.

Mutton, often underrated, has cuts similar to lamb, but they tend to be larger, darker in colour with a richer almost “gamey” flavour. Choose mutton that has a rich brown colour and creamy white fat.

Preparation

If desired, certain cuts of lamb can be marinaded to add flavour, moisture and to tenderise the meat even further. Other cuts such as butterflied leg, noisette and boneless rump are suitable for stuffing, for added flavour and variety in the cooked dish. Before it goes in the oven, lamb should be at room temperature, so take it out of the fridge 30-60 minutes before cooking and keep it covered, in a cool place.

Storage

Unless the lamb is vacuum-packed, take off the packaging or wrapping (making a note of any use-by dates beforehand) and put the lamb at the bottom of the fridge on a dish that is large enough to contain any drips. Vacuum-packed lamb should be kept in its packaging. Make sure the lamb doesn't touch any cooked foods or anything that will be eaten raw.

Any cuts that are bought loose will keep for up to 2-4 days. Larger cuts for roasting will keep for up to 5 days. Minced lamb or lamb offal should be eaten within a day of purchase. For vacuum-packed meat, follow the use-by date on the packaging.

If you plan to freeze lamb for one or two weeks, it can be stored in its original packaging. If you plan to freeze it for longer than two weeks a layer of plastic wrap followed by a layer of heavy-duty aluminium foil (or heavy white freezer paper) will help protect the meat from freezer burn. Allow lamb to defrost fully before cooking.

 
 

Irish Country Meats, Bayland, Camolin, Co Wexford, Ireland. Reg No: 318074