7 Tips for Grilling Lamb Chops, Steaks and Legs
Are you grilling tonight? Few meats lend themselves to the grill as well as grass fed lamb. Grilling enhances the natural flavor of lamb due to “browning” (or the Maillard reaction). When meat is cooked, the outside reaches a higher temperature than the inside, triggering the Maillard reaction at 300 – 500 F creating the rich grilled flavor.
In general, grass-fed meat requires less grilling time, due to high protein and low fat levels. Overcooking lamb, as with other grass fed meats, is common and will diminish flavor and texture. Rare to medium rare is optimal.
7 grilling tips for success
- Remember to thaw your meat cuts ahead of time. Quickening the process in a microwave is likely to lessen the quality of the meat. Thaw frozen cuts slowly in the refrigerator or place the vacuum sealed package in cold water.
- Allow the meat cuts to sit out at room temperature before grilling rather than cooking straight from the refrigerator. The meat will grill quicker and more consistently.
- On a charcoal or gas grill preheat all sections. Then adjust the heat so that one area of the grill is at full heat and another at moderate heat.
- Sear the meat on each side until deeply browned but not charred. If it begins to char or flares up move the cut to a less intense area of the grill. After searing use moderate heat to finish cooking.
- Use tongs to turn, not a fork, to avoid piercing the meat surface allowing the juice to escaping.
- A meat thermometer is a more accurate gauge of being done than color. Take the temperature at the center of the cut of meat, not next to a bone. On chops or steaks push the probe 2-3” into the side of the cut for more accurate readings. You may need to take the meat off the grill momentarily to do so. (Internal temperature 125-130 F for rare to medium-rare)
- Allow grilled cuts to rest for 5-8 minutes before serving. This allows the juice to redistribute adding to the flavor and the surface heat of the meat will distribute more evenly to the center.
Lamb has a delicate flavor* and is naturally tender and delicious straight from the grill with just some salt, pepper, and olive oil, as illustrated in the pictures. While only simple seasonings are needed, lamb meat has an affinity for many spices and herbs, resulting in a variety of traditional and unique flavor.
* Note: If the lamb meat you purchase is not mild but strong, gamey or leaves a musty after taste–reconsider the source of your purchase. Lamb raised for meat should not have a strong after taste common from sheep raised for fine-wool. More on this topic in a future blog.