10 Reasons to Look Beyond Rack of Lamb

Lamb is having a moment. Chefs and restaurants all over the country are putting lamb back on the menu, often spotlighting underused cuts of meat. From Jason Fox at SF's Commonwealth serving succulent lamb belly, to Joel Hough at NYC's Il Buco Alimentari putting a stunning lamb rib appetizer on the menu, we couldn’t be more excited to eat and cook with this flavorful protein.

The recipes below will prove to you that lamb is incredibly versatile and easy to cook at home. Not all of these recipes call for the underutilized cuts, but the ones that do are an amazing budget-stretching way to fit in a decadent meal on not a lot of dough. Think of lamb as the perfect alternative to beef—with the bonus of delicious lamb bacon available from retailers like Fatted Calf. Admittedly some cuts can be harder to find depending on where you live, but just remember: The more you ask your butcher, the more widely available they will soon be. And trust me, these cuts are worth the effort.
Header image and recipe for Mediterranean Rotisserie Leg of Lamb with Potatoes, Fennel, and Olives from CHOW

1. Lamb Belly

Much like the very familiar pork belly, lamb belly is an unctuous cut of meat that holds up beautifully to braising. Once braised, you can sear it or even toss it on the grill for extra smoky flavor.
Photo and recipe from StarChefs

2. Lamb Gyro

Have you always wondered how to make gyros? Surprisingly it’s pretty straightforward and requires only a few steps of baking and slicing to achieve total street-meat perfection!
Photo and recipe from Brown Eyed Baker

3. Lamb Ribs

Lamb ribs are everywhere right now. Chefs are leaping onto this bandwagon and it’s easy to see why: Lamb ribs are that good. Not to mention their smaller size makes them the perfect finger food for a crowd or a starter.
Photo and recipe from Viet World Kitchen

4. Lamb Shank

The classic braised lamb shank is hard to mess up and offers loads of flavor. The low and slow cooking method keeps it superjuicy as well.
Photo and recipe from CHOW

5. Leg of Lamb

Everyone needs a few show-off recipes for in-laws, bosses, and Instagram, and this is totally that recipe! Print it out, pick up the ingredients, and you’re already halfway to being invited to Friday dinners with Jeffrey.
Photo and recipe from CHOW

6. Lamb Kebabs

Again, here is a low-key recipe for a very inexpensive cut of meat. Try this when you need dinner in a flash—the metal skewers make quick work of the meat.
Photo and recipe from CHOW

7. Lamb Sausages

Lamb sausages may not be that novel, but the grape and mint relish is what's extra exciting about this recipe. So I’ll just say it again. Grape and mint relish. Make it. Eat it.
Photo and recipe from CHOW

8. Lamb Meatballs

These babies are a secret-weapon recipe. Make a batch on a Sunday and freeze half for an easy weeknight meal later in the month. Your waistline will thank you for not turning to ramen.
Photo and recipe from CHOW

9. Lamb Cheeks

Just like beef cheeks, a rich braise makes lamb cheeks fall-apart tender. Harder to find, certainly, but call your butcher and see what they can do. You’ll be glad you did.
Photo and recipe from Baketard

10. Lamb Necks

Available more and more from butcher shops like Belcampo, lamb necks can be eaten just like osso buco for a hearty winter meal. Pull the meat off your leftovers for tacos, or make a classic Italian lamb sugo.
Photo and recipe from The Telegraph

Vanessa W. Simmons is a former cook living in San Francisco, helping to run a food business. She's probably hungry, but if not she could eat.

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