How to roast lamb like a chef October 11, 2015
Cooking should above all be fun. Sometimes though, in a world of rules, contradictory advice and intimidating food photography, we can stall before we get started.
At HelloFresh, we’re all about giving you the tools you need to enjoy cooking. So without further ado: How to cook the perfect roast lamb like a chef!
Ever wondered why your Mum made you defrost meat instead of cooking it from frozen? What on earth people mean when they tell you to ‘rest’ your meat? Read on fellow traveller….
First Things First, your lamb should be unfrozen before roasting. This will allow the heat to penetrate the cut of meat more easily, resulting in a tender, even roast – as well as saving you a lot of valuable time!
One old wives’ tale which can be put to bed though is the idea of letting any meat you’re about to cook come up to room temperature. Even a steak would take hours out of the fridge for the middle of the meat to gain just a few degrees in temperature. This is way too long for you to bother with that story, so just stick to meat from the fridge rather and the freezer, and you’ll be fine!
Let it sizzle
For the perfect roast lamb, we recommend seasoning the surface of the meat, and then searing it, especially fat side down in a pan before roasting.
Why bother with searing? Contrary to some stories, searing is less about locking in moisture, and all about improving the flavour! By allowing the seasoned outside of the meat to sizzle and the amino acids and sugars to change when heated (a process known as the Maillard reaction), a wonderful depth of flavour can be added to the meat. It’s amazing what a good grind of salt and pepper, some rosemary and garlic can do along with a bit of heat in a pan. The caramel, bitter coffee-esque flavours and rich brown outside will all contribute to an even more delicious roast lamb.
To truss or not to truss?
Trussing main purpose is to allow meat to better hold it’s shape while it heats up and expands, supposedly to help retain juices during the cooking process. The best way by far to retain moisture in your meat is to allow it to rest after cooking (we’ll get to that), but if you want a deboned piece of lamb to stay looking neat and tidy for serving purposes, lasso that meat with gay abandon. You can find a handy guide to doing so here.
Down to business
The general rule for a roast lamb is 25 minutes to half an hour for every 500g of meat. For a decent leg of lamb, we like a cooking time of around 1 hour and 15 minutes for a roast which is still nicely pink in the middle.
Preheat the oven and roast at about 180ºC – 200ºC. Don’t try to save time by cranking up the heat – the only thing you’ll achieve is a burnt dry exterior. Make sure you cook your meat with the fat on too – it adds flavour and keeps the meat moist. You can place the lamb on a rack inside the tray to allow the fat to drip off if you like, and trim the fat after the lamb is cooked.
Time for a rest
The most crucial part of a great roast lamb is allowing the meat time to rest. Why is it that we rest meat? It’s not to give you a lukewarm dinner we promise! When meat is cooked, the muscle fibres in the protein start to contract and change shape. The liquid that was inside them is displaced, so it’s still inside the meat, but it can no longer be in the strands of muscle fibre.
Resting meat allows for the structure of the meat to relax slightly, and for these fibres to again relax and widen. allowing for this means that the moisture from the meat is retained in your juicy roast, and doesn’t all end up spilling on a chopping board when you’re carving!
And there you have it: the key ingredients to whip up roast lamb like a chef. Of course, after the basics you can experiment with all sorts of different flavour combinations and side dishes (we particularly like it with a fresh homemade chimichurri). What’s your absolute favourite combination to have with roast lamb? Let us know in the comments!