The Cut Of Lamb Jacques Pépin Prefers For Tender Results

Chef Jacques Pépin is no stranger to cooking tips, whether he's advising home chefs to buy organic eggs or teaching kids cooking from a young age. When it comes to making lamb, however, Pépin has even more tricks up his sleeve. If you're looking to make your lamb all the more tender, the French chef recommends using one, specific part of the animal: the shoulder. 

As Pépin explained on his "Cooking at Home" series while making lamb chops with mushrooms, the shoulder is more moist and more tender than other parts of the lamb, including the loin. It's for these reasons that he prefers the animal's shoulder, which ranks among the best cuts of lamb. In case that tenderness isn't enough, the shoulder is also cheaper when compared to the leg. It's therefore a win-win.

Of course, cooking lamb is not as simple as merely picking out the right cut of meat. In his recipe tutorial, Pépin outlines a few additional guidelines, advising home cooks on how to choose — and prepare — the best lamb shoulder.

Follow Jacques Pépin's example and cook low-fat lamb shoulder on the stove

Before you can cook your lamb shoulder, you have to pick it out — and yes, there are differences between pieces. In selecting a piece of meat, Pépin looks for lamb shoulder that's low in fat.

You can grill the shoulder, but Pépin opts to saute it on the stove with mushrooms. As for flavor, he keeps things simple, but no less flavorful. Once you've selected your lamb, follow his lead and season it with a simple sprinkling of salt and pepper. When you're ready to cook your meal, heat about half a tablespoon of oil in a pan, along with an equal amount of butter. You only need a few minutes on each side — about two to three — to cook the lamb in the fat. That window should be enough time to get a medium-rare center. Once the lamb is done cooking, Pépin adds a few slices of garlic and makes sure to let the lamb rest. 

If Pépin's recipe hooks you on lamb shoulder, you can explore other options for the tender, cheaper cut of meat. For further inspiration, try swapping in the shoulder across all kinds of lamb recipes, from a slow-braised lamb to a lamb pilau. The shoulder works especially well in dishes that require a slow-cooking approach, so plan your meal accordingly. Rest assured: Whenever lamb shoulder is involved, you're bound for something delicious.