Sunday, January 29, 2012

Trimming a Rack of Lamb (Video)

There is no reason why chewiness should be part of the meat eating experience.  If you need to serve dental floss with your roast, it might be time to get out that boning knife and do a little trimming.  This video uses a rack of lamb as an example, but the same technique applies to trimming beef tenderloin, pork tenderloin, skirt steak, the back of a duck breast, and even a monkfish tail.

YouTube link: Trimming a Rack of Lamb

Here are some questions I frequently get in class about trimming meat:

Can't you remove the chewy bits while eating?  Why bother to do this before cooking?
If the outside of the roast is trimmed after cooking, the browning will be trimmed off too, and that's the most flavorful part.  When you brown meat, it goes through a chemical change known as Maillard reaction.  During this reaction hundreds of different flavor compounds are created.  I want to make sure that I am browning the meat, and not the silver skin that will be partially chewed, spit out, and left on the side of the plate.  

Aren't you removing the flavor by trimming the fat from the outside of the roast?
The fat cap on the outside of the roast does have good flavor, but unpleasantly chewy texture.  It also tends to cause flare-ups on the grill making your meat burnt and bitter tasting.  On a rack of pork (bone-in pork rib roast), the fat cap is not very chewy, and pork fat tastes outrageously good.  Unless I am grilling, I often leave the fat cap in place, but I am not as fond of lamb fat, so I don't see any benefit to keeping it on.

What do you do with that rack of lamb after trimming?  Slow roast in the oven, finish with a sear, and enjoy!

21 down / 29 more to go


Sally said...

Helen, terrific video. You 'splain it all!! With Valentine's Day just around the corner, it's good to know how to prepare a rack of lamb. You could have a butcher do it, I suppose, but inquiring minds want to know!

Helen said...

Hi Sally,

Yes, some butchers can actually do a decent job. Fresh Pond market in Cambridge comes to mind. They call it "trim to the lolly pop." I wouldn't trust Whole Foods though. Their butchering skills are very variable. Another good reason to learn to do it yourself is if you buy meat at Costco. They have excellent products at unbeatable prices, but you are on your own with trimming.


Anna said...

Wow:-) I don't think I am ready to buy my own rack of lamb quite yet but this was a big eye opener for me. I now know what it looks like. Believe it or not I never knew where those pieces they serve in restaurants came from.

bkida said...

Ah, finally the use of a boning knife! I have often wondered if I needed (rather than just want)one. I don't know how often I'll be trimming a rack but I could see where my standard chef knife would be a bit cumbersome for the process. I always look forward to your videos!

Helen said...

If you don't work with meat much, a boning knife is kind of useless. You can use it to section citrus, but that's about it. For meat it does come in very handy if you hate silver skin as much as I do :)