How to prepare and cook lamb to perfection – Italian Cuisine

How to prepare and cook lamb to perfection

THE'lamb it has a light meat, rich in easily digestible proteins. It is usually distinguished in suckling lamb (lamb), from the tender and delicate meat, and in white or mature lamb with tasty, aromatic meats and a strong and decisive taste.

Lamb in Italy, according to an ancient tradition, is mainly cooked in Easter period. But, together with sheep, mutton (male of the sheep), goat and kid, it is one of the most common meats in the whole Mediterranean basin. Suffice it to say that in North African Maghreb cuisine it is the most used.

Lamb or lamb: what difference?

The difference between lamb is lamb it makes the age of the animal. The lamb it is the puppy of the sheep, used in the kitchen only after having passed the age of weaning and before completing a year. When the animal's age does not exceed two months of life, it is generally called lamb. This type of meat is used above all in the kitchens of Central and Southern Italy.

Furthermore, the differences are not just personal data. Unlike lamb, which only feeds on grass, the lamb has a much fatter flesh, since its only source of livelihood is the breast milk. The lamb that has begun to graze will be less fat, very tasty, rich in calcium, iron, and B vitamins.

What does the lamb represent at Easter, because it is cooked

There is no tradition in Italy Easter without lamb. Today, of course, this is no longer the case, but it is good to know that this gastronomic custom has its roots in the sacrificial rituals of the ancient Jewish Easter. nell 'Old Testament the lamb was in fact the symbol of sacrifice.

We find it in the book ofExodus, when God said to Moses and Aaron: "Each get a lamb for a family, a lamb for home"(Exodus 12, 3). And again, the Bible already dictates the rules for cooking:"On that night they will eat fire-roasted meat; they will eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. You will not eat it raw or boiled in water, but only roasted to the fire with the head, the legs and the bowels"(Exodus 12, 8-9).

To offer this animal to God, a symbol of whiteness and fragility of life, the believer had the feeling of making a precious and pure gift. In New Testament the animal is embodied in Jesus Christ. John the Baptist baptizes him in water and words, saying: "Here the Lamb of God, the one who takes away the sin of the world!"predicting the maximum sacrifice.

There are many people who, by questioning the New Testament, maintain that it no longer makes much sense to eat lamb, given that Jesus himself was one. In 2007 Pope Benedict XVI he said: "The nostalgic gesture, somehow lacking in efficacy, which was the immolation of the innocent and immaculate lamb, found an answer in Him who for us became Lamb and Temple together".

Then no more sacrificial gesture, but how do you get rid of such a deep-rooted culinary tradition? This is why in those days the kitchens of all Italy, a nation still with a strong Catholic vocation, are scented with lamb chops, baked lamb or lamb with peas and eggs.

Between recipes they can be prepared very tasty lamb chops breaded in the oven or fried, roast lamb with artichokes and myrtle (traditional Sardinian dish), lamb with artichokes or directly from Tuscany, stewed lamb or lamb chasseur stew. In the Marche and Favara, in the province of Agrigento, sweet lambs are also prepared.

However, eating lamb at Easter is a tradition that every year provokes many controversies and several boycott campaigns.

The main cuts of lamb

THE main cuts of lamb meat there are many to use in the kitchen. There is the neck, which can be used whole or boned to prepare stew or braised meat, given the very long cooking time. There shoulder it is one of the most prized cuts: its firm, gelatinous pulp lends itself to all types of cooking.

Then there is the leg, used for roasting, which can also be cooked boned, stuffed and rolled. The yoke lamb which is ideal to prepare on the grill or to make ribs. The lamb breast which is a fairly fat cut, rich in flavor, from which the points to be grilled are made.

Finally there is the saddle, usually cut in two parts, excellent for roasting. Its conformation makes it a perfect cut for scenographic settings, lunches and dinners for special occasions.

How to marinate the lamb to remove the wild smell

THE'wild smell of the lamb is generated by a thin and clear layer of fat present on the leg and on the back. This means that the animal is suitable for slaughter. The fat, yellowish in color, can be eliminated so as to partly avoid the wild fragrance of the meat.

If once purchased, the pulp will still have that smell, you will have to marinate it to remove the smell. Here's how. Let's start by saying that the marinating lamb it can take a long time, so it is something that you will have to plan and not improvise at the last moment.

Rinse the lamb under running water, place it in a container and sprinkle it with aromatic herbs (thyme, rosemary, mint, sage and bay leaf will do very well). Also mix juniper berries, peppercorns, and an onion cut into medium-sized slices, together with two whole garlic cloves.

Add 2 glasses of White wine and half a glass of extra virgin olive oil. Cover everything with plastic wrap and leave in the fridge for eight hours, taking care to turn the pieces of meat occasionally to make them marinate uniformly.

If you don't want to use white wine for marinating, you can replace the prized liquid with somevinegar or del lemon mixed with water, taking care to change the latter mixture two or three times.

How to prepare lamb for cooking

Once you have chosen the cut and marinated, you have only to prepare the lamb cooking. The preliminary operations to be performed will depend on the recipe you have chosen to perform.

For example, if you want to prepare the leg of lamb in the oven, you will have to boned it first. If you want to use the lamb breast to create a roast, you will have to stuff it and roll it up.

How much should cook

THE cooking times of lamb meat vary according to the cuts. For example, the chest, generally considered one of the hardest parts of the animal, is baked or used in stews is stracotti that have long cooking times. The same goes for the leg of lamb, which needs up to 60 minutes in the oven.

To cook the grilled lamb ribs, just a few minutes per side will suffice. And to prepare lamb alla cacciatora you will need just 20 minutes on a high flame.

How to cook roast lamb in the oven

THE'roasted lamb in the oven it is a classic second Sunday lunch dish, perhaps accompanied by a tasty side dish such as baked potatoes or buttered peas.

For this preparation choose the shoulder or the leg. Wash the meat with cold water. Take a baking pan, sprinkle with oil. Peel the garlic, mince it and spread it in the pan. Also insert sage and rosemary sprigs inside. Now combine the lamb: brown it for less than ten minutes, turning it so that it is evenly browned.

At this point, add half a glass of dry white wine, add salt and pepper. Continue roasting in an oven preheated to 170 ° C for an hour. After that sprinkle the meat with the sauce that you will find in the pot and cook for another 15 minutes, bringing the temperature to 200 ° C. At the end of cooking, leave to cool and serve on the table.

How to cook grilled lamb

This is one of the fastest ways to prepare this meat. Also cook thegrilled lamb it means choosing the cooking technique that more naturally enhances the flavor of this raw material. Remember not to prick the meat with the tines of the fork, but always use a kitchen tongs to turn it.

If you do not have one available barbecue, use very hot non-stick pans or plates and cook the lamb on the grill only after marinating the meat.

How to cook lamb in a pan or pan

The frying pan or pans with lids are the ideal tools for cooking lamb and leaving it tender. A classic example is theLamb In Wet, where the meat is cooked in a pan with butter, and then continued in a broth made up of wine, a pinch of flour to tie it all together and some aromas.

After preparing the vegetable broth, rinse the lamb stew, dry it and then brown it in a pan, in which you have melted some butter. Take some broth, melt some flour in a bowl and pour the new mixture over the meat. Continue the procedure until the morsels are soft. You can also cook in a pressure cooker for faster cooking.

How to cook lamb in a hot sauce

Here are some tips on how to cooklamb a scottadito. In itself this method of cooking is not particularly complex, but requires some basic precautions. In addition to being certain that the meat is of quality, it is good to choose a slightly fat animal so that the final result is really succulent.

The lamb scottadito can be prepared both with cuts of leg and with tasty ribs, all to gnaw. The lamb should be left slightly to the blood, but in many restaurants the cooking is prolonged. If the meat is the right one, this will not affect the final result.

Furthermore the fire must be very high to prevent the meat from becoming rubbery. It is called lamb scottadito because it must be served very hot, to the point of burning your fingers. No need for anything other than meat, you eat it naturally, with the addition of just a little salt and pepper.

What a side dish to combine with lamb

The most popular side dishes to serve with lamb are potatoes, peas or artichokes. Obviously these are combinations that are well-rooted in the Italian culinary tradition, to which you can give a touch of sparkle using a little creativity.

If you have chosen the potatoes, you can serve aromatic herbs steamed potatoes, or a mashed potato, or a potato pie to serve hot.

Thanks to their delicate and slightly sweet taste, i peas they are perfect to accompany lamb meat. They can be cooked with potatoes or served separately, or used to prepare small pea and leek flan.

Finally there are the artichokes, perfect to be cooked in a pan, baked, along with lamb, flavored with wild fennel, olives, cloves and bay leaves. You can serve artichokes as a side dish. Make some crunchy and tasty treats fried artichokes.

What to drink with lamb

We have seen that there are many ways to cook lamb. Depending on the choice will also change the wine to match the dish. For example the lamb chops perfectly match with a full-bodied Numeropulciano d'Abruzzo or the Lagrein Alto Adige.

Also a great one Aglianico del Vulture structured, perfect also for the lamb ragù. If you have prepared a baked loin or ribs, also serve an elegant one Pinot Noir.

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