The Best Cooking Method For A Cut Of Lamb Shoulder

Similar to beef cattle, lamb shoulder is the hardest working muscle in the animal, making it rather tricky to cook well. A highly desirable cut also known as the foresaddle, the lamb shoulder, which sometimes includes the neck, can come as either one larger primal cut or a smaller portioned cut. Regardless of what cut of lamb shoulder you get, each lends itself well to lower, slower cooking methods. One of the best of these methods is roasting.

A lamb shoulder roast is usually boned, which means the central marrow-filled bones have been removed and the roast can be rolled together with stuffing. Any stuffing you add, whether it is extra meat, vegetables, herbs, or fruit should render fat and moisture to help keep the lamb tender and flavorful. This is where it pays to cook the lamb for a long time in the oven at a lower temperature. A six-pound lamb roast will take about four hours at 300 degrees Fahrenheit.

While roasting is a dry heat cooking method, it works for the lamb shoulder because it is so relatively lean in comparison to beef and pork. The long roasting time acts as a way to break down the tougher connective tissues found in the lamb. Don't think for a second, however, that other low and slow moist heat methods won't work for lamb shoulder. On the contrary, braising and stewing are also excellent options for this cut of meat. 

Other slow cooking method for lamb shoulder

Lamb shoulder cuts include the neck of lamb, stew meat, and shoulder blade chops. As the neck has a lot more sinews than the other sections of the shoulder, it works best when braised slowly for several hours. Braising is a method where whole cuts of meat are cooked gently in a relatively minimal amount of liquid. It allows the connective tissue in the neck to break down, making the meat become incredibly tender. This method can be achieved at low temps in the oven or even a slow cooker.

Speaking of slow cookers, let's talk stew meat. Like the other cuts, stew meat needs time over low heat in order for the morsels to be soft and tender. Unlike braising, stewing requires much more liquid to cook smaller chunks of meat. This can be either water or broth. As the stew meat is smaller than the whole roast, they will not need as much time to cook, only 45 minutes or so. Whatever cut of lamb shoulder you use, keeping things low and slow is the key to unlocking premium flavor with relatively little effort.