And when lamb is put on the menu, often it is the same types of cuts - chops, cutlets and shanks - that feature, prompting Hugh Judd, foodservice project manager for AHDB Beef & Lamb to come up with some ways to inspire chefs to expand their horizons and make more of lamb on their menus.
“At this time of year lamb is at its best and in plentiful supply, which makes the price more attractive. So it makes economic sense to sell a product that consumers love when there is so much good quality, added value product around,” he says.
“However, chefs do need to get creative and use a range of different cuts in order to appeal to diners to keep menus fresh, interesting and exciting.”
So what should chefs and restaurateurs looking to make the most of lamb on their autumn menus do?
Tip 1: Use street food as inspiration
As shown in our video AHDB Beef & Lamb invited street food operators, the majority of whom are using lesser known cuts of lamb in innovative ways, to provide inspiration to chefs.
“The street food phenomenon has swept the UK by storm, with more and more traders offering a wide variety of global cuisines springing up all of the time,” says Judd. “As lamb works so well in many different types of cooking, we thought what better way to showcase its versatility than invite four very different operators to show us what they could do with it.”
Dishes provided at Lamb: Discover a World of Taste event at London Fields Brewery used a range of different cuts of lamb and presented them in very different ways, from hogget baked in hay to lamb breast slow-cooked and lamb chops marinated in spices and honey.
- Shoot The Bull’s 36-hour-cooked lamb breast with smoked Jerusalem artichoke puree, roasted salsify and rosemary pesto;
- Cheeky Burger’s Moroccan lamb burger
- The Moocher’s Hay-baked rough fell hogget with foraged herb and heritage tomato salsa
- The Cheeky Indian’s Indian-inspired prime lamb chops, marinated in a blend of spices and honey, served with flat bread and a Punjabi slaw
As Richard Johnson, founder of the Street Food Awards and the person responsible for choosing the street food operators for the event, says, English lamb is hugely versatile and is 'so wonderfully English and seasonal’ making it an ideal choice for operators interested in looking to shake up their menus this autumn.
Tip 2: Take advantage of butchery innovations
AHDB Beef & Lamb’s team of expert butchers has recently spent a great deal of time developing cuts, reducing their size and removing some of the parts which put chefs off, such as fat and bone. The results have been designed to make a chef’s life much easier, help them be more creative and pay less.
Cuts such as the cannon of lamb, a lean and well-trimmed piece of meat, can 'eat like fillet steak' according to Judd and were described by consumers as 'succulent, tender and melt-in-the-mouth' and provide a point of difference on menus.
Other cuts include the three-bone rack - an intensely flavoured cut of meat which can be served whole or slicked into cutlets; lamb spatchcock, lamb rib-eye joint, lamb pave and lamb ribs.
Work too, as AHDB Beef & Lamb’s expert butcher Martin Eccles tells us in the video, has been done on the shoulder of lamb which he describes as a 'good value cut' and can be slow cooked to provide dishes such as pulled lamb shoulder.
"The problem in the past is it has had the bone in it and is a fatty product, but what we've done is removed all those negatives - taken the bone and the fat away and made it an easier piece to cook," he says. "Everyone loves pulled shoulder these days."
For more information about the QSM Scheme and the lamb cuts featured at the event click here.