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, UNITED STATtS' F. EAn lniv Of AQ, a3
,A1., DEPARTMENT GARDEN BULLET
-- OF AGRICULT 5 AND QUALITY
Who can resist barbecued shish kabobs, siz-
zling lamb chops, or roast leg of lamb? Many Amer-
icans enjoy the variety and flavor of this tend
Lamb is tasty and nutritious too. One three-
ounce serving of roast leg of lamb provides one-
third of the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance
(U.S. RDA) for protein and one-fourth the U.S. RDA
for niacin and zinc. It also supplies some phos-
phorus, iron, and B vitamins.
Since lamb is usually tender and delicately
flavored, you can prepare it many ways. Most of
the cuts you buy may be cooked by dry-heat meth-
ods such as broiling, frying, or roasting. Lamb is
best when served hot.
In the past, shoppers looked for the term
"spring lamb" to insure that the meat would be
young and tender. Today "spring lamb" includes
all lambs born between March and October, so it
covers most of our domestic supplies.
But you do have a reliable guide to tenderness-
the USDA quality grades. By choosing the appro-
priate cut and USDA grade for the recipe you are
using, you'll find it easy to liven up your meals with
ABOUT LAMB QUALITY
Lamb is usually tender because it is fr
animals less than one year old, but quality can
vary. The USDA quality grades-Prime, Choice,
Good, Utility, and Cull-are reliable guides to lamb
tenderness, juiciness, and flavor. The grades are
based on nationally uniform Federal standards, so
that USDA Choice lamb chops, for example, will
provide the same good eating no matter where you
In addition to lamb, USDA has grades for year-
ling mutton, which is meat from sheep one to two
years old, and for mutton, which is meat from older
animals. However, you seldom find graded yearling
mutton and mutton in retail stores.
Lamb carcasses also may be graded for yield of
trimmed retail cuts. Yield Grades 1 through 5 de-
note, chiefly, the ratio of
lean meat to fat. Yield a
Grade 1 means the high- US
est yield of trimmed retail
Wits, and Yield Grade 5 the
Wtest. When you're buy- E
ing retail cuts, you don't
need to be concerned about the yield grade be-
cause most retailers closely trim the cuts, eliminat-
ing the variation in fatness which the yield grades
identify. Knowing the yield grade would be helpful
if you're buying larger cuts or an entire carcass for
your home freezer.
Although little lamb is graded for yield, the serv-
ice is available, and you may find the yield grade
shield on larger wholesale cuts.
Imported lamb is not graded for quality or yield
by USDA, since it is usually imported frozen and
only fresh meat can be graded. However, imported
lamb must be inspected for wholesomeness by a
system approved by USDA and must bear the in-
spection legend of the exporting country.
Meat grading is a voluntary service provided by
ISDA's Food Safety and Quality Service (FSQS) to
eat packers and others who request it and pay for
it. Approximately two-thirds of all lamb produced
is graded for quality. The grading is done by highly
trained USDA graders.
Only whole carcasses or wholesale cuts are
graded for quality since quality differences are
difficult or next-to-impossible to recognize in re-
tail cuts. When the carcass is graded, a purple
shield-shaped grademark containing the letters
USDA and the grade name-such as Prime or
Choice-is applied with a roller-stamp. The grade
shield is rolled in a ribbon-like imprint along the
length of the carcass and across both shoulders.
Then when the carcass is divided into retail cuts,
one or more of the grademarks should appear on
most of these cuts.
Only lamb which has first passed a strict in-
spection for wholesomeness may be graded for
quality. So you may be sure when you see the
grademark that the meat also came from a
healthy animal and was processed in a sanita
All meat must be inspected for wholesome-
ness, by either State or Federal inspectors. Meat
processed in plants selling their products across
State lines must be federally inspected to see
that it is clean, wholesome, unadulterated, and
truthfully labeled. However, meat processed in
plants which sell their products only within the
same State may be State inspected in any State
having an inspection system equal to the Federal.
Otherwise, such meat must be federally in-
spected. Federal inspection is another service pro-
vided by FSQS.
Meat which passes the USDA inspection for
wholesomeness is stamped with a round mark
which bears the legend "U.S. INSP'D. & P'S'D."
This mark is placed only once on wholesale cut
so that you are likely to see it only on large c
of meat. Packaged meat foods, however, such as
frozen dinners and canned meats, that are sold
in interstate commerce, carry the USDA inspec-
tion mark on the label.
Learn to recognize both the inspection mark-
a circle-and the grademark-a shield. Remem-
ber they mean different things. The inspection
mark tells you that the meat is clean and whole-
some. The grademark tells you the quality of the
Each USDA lamb grade
is a measure of a distinct
level of quality. Five grades
span the range of qual-
ity-Prime, Choice, Good,
Utility, and Cull. Good,
Utility, and Cull grades are
seldom sold as retail cuts.
USDA Prime is the most
tender, juicy, and flavorful,
but the grade most widely
sold at retail is USDA
Choice. Choice lamb is
produced in the greatest
volume and retailers have
found that this quality
Biases most of their cus-
The grades are based on factors which are indi-
cations of marbling-flecks of fat within the lean.
The marbling or fat content in the lean of Prime
grade lamb amounts to 4 to 5 percent, and in
Choice grade lamb, 3 to 4 percent.
Prime grade lamb is very tender, juicy, and fla-
vorful. It has generous marbling, which enhances
both flavor and juiciness. Prime chops and roasts
are excellent for dry-heat cooking-broiling and
roasting. Prime grade lamb is not carried widely
at the retail level.
Choice grade lamb has slightly less marbling
than Prime. Like Prime, Choice chops and roasts
are very tender, juicy, and flavorful and are suited
to dry-heat cooking.
LOOK FOR THE CUT
Regardless of their quality grade, some cuts of
lamb are naturally more tender than others. Cuts
from the less-used muscles along the back of the
animal-the rib and loin sections-will always
be more tender than those from the active mus-
cles such as the shoulder, flank, and leg.
The most tender cuts make up only a small
proportion of the lamb carcass-and they are in
greatest demand. Therefore, they command a
higher price than other cuts.
; Consistently tender lamb cuts include the sir-
chop or steak, the loin chop, loin roast, rib
chop, and rib roast. You will find that most cuts
of USDA Prime and Choice lamb-including
shoulder cuts-are tender and can be oven
roasted, broiled, or pan-broiled. A leg of lamb
graded Choice or Prime, for example, is a deli-
cate delight when oven roasted.
The less tender cuts-the breast, riblets, neck,
and shanks-can be braised slowly to make ex-
cellent (and tender!) lamb dishes.
The best way to identify lamb cuts is with the
standard terminology shown on the following
pages. These terms are generally recognized
throughout the meat industry.
Illustrated on the following pages are the most
widely sold and widely known retail cuts of lamb,
along with descriptions of the cuts and suggested
Sirloin Half of Leg Shank H
Leg Chop (Steak)
lalf of Leg
Leg, Sirloin on
Leg, Sirloin off
Sirloin Roast Sirloin Chop
S Loin Roast Loin Chops
Rib Roast Rib Chops
Arm Chop Blade Chop
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Lamb for Stew*
*LAMB FOR STEW, GRINDING OR
CUBING MAY COME FROM ANY
RETAIL LAMB CUTS
RIB CHOPS Cut from the rib (rack), these tender
chops (on the left in photo) are delicious broiled,
pan-broiled, or panfried. For best results, have
rib chops cut at least 1 inch in thickness. Ap-
proximate cooking time for 1 inch-12 minutes;
112 inches-18 minutes; and 2 inches-22 min-
LOIN CHOPS One of the most popular of lemb
cuts, loin chops (on the right in photo), can be
easily identified by the T-bone. These chops are
delicious when broiled, pan-broiled or panfried.
Cooking time is the same as for rib chops.
SIRLOIN STEAKS or CHOPS Cut from the sir-
loin section of the lamb leg, these chops can
also be broiled, pan-broiled, or panfried. Follow
cooking suggestions given for rib and loin chops.
LEG OF LAMB Since the leg of lamb is often too
big to fully use, sirloin chops can be cut from the
sirloin section of the roast, and the remaining por-
tion prepared as an oven roast.
The French-style leg has a small amount of
meat trimmed from the end of the shank, and the
exposed bone can be decorated after roasting.
The American-style leg differs from the French-
style in that the shank bone has been removed
and the shank meat folded back into a pocket on
the inside and fastened with skewers.
The sirloin half/leg of lamb (butt half) is the
upper half of the leg-usually with the sirloin on.
This cut makes a delicious oven roast.
The shank or lower half of the leg (see identifi-
cation chart) is often merchandised separately.
It is sometimes sold at a slightly higher price
than the butt half because it yields more meat.
Whenever the shank and butt are sold at the same
price, the shank half of the leg is the better value.
For any leg roast weighing 5-8 pounds, allow
approximately 35 minutes per pound in a 3250 F.
oven. The meat thermometer reading will be 175-
180, when the roast is done.
RIB ROAST This cut is the section used for mak-
ing rib chops. The rib roast cut is sometimes called
You can fashion the rack into a "French roast"
by removing about 112 inches of meat from the
ends of the ribs. Then after roasting, cover rib
ends with paper frills for a decorative touch.
The elegant "crown roast" is made with at least
two rib roasts (racks), with the back bone re-
moved, shaped into a crown and secured with
twine. Ends of the ribs are trimmed so that they
can be decorated like the French roast.
Any of these roasts, which are all fashioned
from the same basic cut, are perfect for oven
roasting. A rib or crown roast weighing 4-6 pounds
(put in a 3250 F. oven) will require approximately
35 minutes per pound cooking time. Your meat
rmometer will read 175 to 1800 when the
ast is done.
LEG STEAK Leg steaks are lean meaty slices
cut from the center area of the leg, and are easily
identified by the round leg bone. This cut is suit-
able for broiling, pan-broiling, or panfrying.
SHANKS Economical and best prepared by sim-
mering in liquid or braising, lamb shanks are also
nutritious! Shank sections are delicious, too, in
lamb stew. If prepared by braising, shanks will
require approximately 1V2 to 2 hours total cook-
SHOULDER ROAST (Square-Cut and Boned ani
Rolled) The square-cut shoulder roast (on right in
photo), identified easily by the arm and blade
bones, is considered an economical cut of lamb.
The boned shoulder roast (on the left) is con-
venient to serve, and is commonly sold at retail
as illustrated here-boned, rolled and tied. A
boneless shoulder can also be fashioned into a
cushion shoulder roast for stuffing.
Both shoulder roasts are suitable for oven
roasting (preferably at a low temperature of 3250
F., at 35-45 minutes per pound) OR suitable for
braising (slowly browned and cooked with a small
amount of liquid added). Cook to an internal tem-
perature of 175-180, as indicated by your meat
BLADE or ARM SHOULDER CHOPS These cuts
(from the shoulder roast) are fine for broiling,
pan-broiling or panfrying. Preferably, for best re-
sults in cooking, they should be at least 1 inch
thick. To broil a 1-inch chop requires a total cook-
ing time of approximately 12 minutes.
BREAST The breast contains the rib bones and
breast bone and is considered an economical buy.
Often this cut is boned and rolled or boned for
stuffing. A nice variation is to include fruit or
vegetables in the stuffing. A less tender cut, the
breast should be prepared by braising or simmer-
ing in liquid. When braising at a moderate oven
temperature of 3250 F., a boned and rolled breast
roast requires 11/2 to 2 hours total cooking time.
RIBLETS These economy lamb cuts are made
from the breast by cutting between the rib bones.
They are best prepared by braising (requiring an
approximate total cooking time of 11/2 to 2 hours)
or simmering in liquid. They are also delicious
when cooked over charcoal on the outdoor grill.
*SHISH KABOBS Shish kabobs are cubes of
boneless lamb usually cut from the shoulder or leg
and skewered. They may be found prethreaded on
wooden skewers in some retail stores or the lamb
cubes may be sold in bulk. A favorite way to pre-
pare lamb shish kabobs is to marinate the cubes
for a period of several hours, then put them on long
skewers to charcoal broil or oven broil.
*GROUND LAMB Boneless lamb from the neck,
breast, shanks and flank is generally used in mak-
ing ground lamb. However, any part can be boned
and ground. The ground lamb is best prepared
patties for broiling, pan-broiling, or panfrying.
OR-as a lamb loaf for oven roasting.
* Not illustrated.
A FEW VARIATIONS
Although the terms above are standard, names
for lamb cuts sometimes vary in different parts of
the country. Other terms you may see include:
English chop-a double loin lamb chop;
lamb cutlets-meat from the lamb leg cut like
round steak in beef;
crown roast of lamb-a formal-looking cut from
the rib area;
rack of lamb-usually a restaurant item for two,
from the rib;
Saratoga chops-boneless lamb chops from the
inside shoulder muscles.
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
1U1IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII1IIIIIII l lllliIII1111111
3 1262 08582 9777
ISSUED AUGUST 1971
SLIGHTLY REVISED APRIL 1979
U.S. GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE : 1979 0-290-221
For sale by the Superintendent of Documents,
U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402
Stock No. 001-000-01457-9
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