Lamb meat is lean, with a distinctive flavor. Although it is eaten much less often than beef in the U.S., lamb is the meat of choice in many parts of the world for everyday meals and holiday feasts.
When a lamb grows older than one year, the meat is referred to as yearling meat. At two years of age, the meat is known as mutton. Cuts of lamb may vary in color from pink to light red, but should always look fresh and not dull or slimy. The fat should be white and waxy looking. The bones should be reddish in color and moist looking rather than dry. Some cuts may be all or partially covered with a silvery membrane, the “fell,” which may be removed or left on depending on the recipe being used.
Almost any type of cooking method can be used for lamb, depending on the cut. For example, naturally tender cuts form the loin and rib benefit from dry heat cooking methods such as roasting or grilling, while tougher cuts from the brisket and foreshank are best suited for moist heat cooking methods such as braising.
Greek stuffed rack of lamb
16 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
4 teaspoons corn oil
1 cup shelled pumpkin seeds
2 lamb racks (1 1/4- to 1 1/2-pounds each), trimmed and halved
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup chopped, drained, oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped brine-cured olives (such as Kalamata olives)
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Oil heavy, large baking sheet. Toss garlic with 2 teaspoons corn oil in small bowl. Transfer to baking sheet. Roast 6 minutes. Add pumpkin seeds; toss to coat. Roast until seeds and garlic are golden brown, stirring once, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer to rack; cool. Maintain oven temperature.
Transfer garlic-pumpkin seed mixture to processor. Grind until coarse puree forms. Mix in remaining 2 teaspoons corn oil.
Using long sharp knife and starting at one end of lamb, cut slit in center of each lamb rack half, extending slit to opposite end of lamb. Insert handle of wooden spoon into slit, enlarging slit to 3/4-inch diameter hole.
Combine feta, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and cilantro in large bowl. Fill hole in each lamb rack with feta mixture, dividing equally.
Transfer lamb to prepared baking sheet. Spread mustard over rounded side of lamb; press 1/4 of pumpkin seed coating into mustard on each lamb rack half. Roast lamb until meat thermometer inserted near center of lamb registers 135 degrees for medium-rare, about 25 minutes. Let lamb rest 15 minutes before serving.
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