Spring lamb is a succulent, versatile meat that provides a welcome change from beef. Lamb steaks are cut from the back leg and shoulder of the animal. Shoulder meat will contain more muscle and works well as a slow-cooked stewing meat. Lamb steaks cut from the back leg will be leaner and best left to the oven or stove top. Lamb needs to be cooked until it reads a minimum internal temperature of 145 degrees. The length of time that takes will be determined by the cooking method chosen.
Pan frying and oven cooking times
Much like beef steak, lamb won’t take very long to cook when placed in a lightly oiled pan and fried over medium heat. Heat the oil and add garlic if you like. Place the steak into the pan and fry on either side for five to eight minutes depending on the thickness of the steak. Turn the meat and fry for another three to five minutes and then check the temperature with a meat thermometer. If you like a very tender steak, sear the meat first by heating the skillet to a high heat and placing the meat in the pan for just under a minute on either side. Turn the heat down and continue cooking for another four minutes or so, turning once.
Cast-iron works best for frying meat, as the meat won’t stick to the pan like stainless steel. You can check the temperature of the pan by sprinkling a little water in the heated oil, if it pops and ‘dances’ on the pan, it’s the perfect temperature for searing.
For oven cooking, place the lamb in an uncovered roasting pan and cook at 325 degrees. For every inch of thickness, allow 10 to 15 minutes of cooking time. You can allow more time for a well-done steak, cooking to an internal temperature of 170 degrees.
Cubed lamb steak can be slow cooked and is the primary ingredient in the well-known dish, osso buco. This stew calls for white beans, capers, lemon zest and other fresh herbs and seasoning, and then is placed in the oven or Crock-Pot for up to two hours. Ask the butcher for steak that is cut from the shoulder, as the muscle in this cut is what makes the meat moist and tender when stewed.
Broiling and grilling times
Leaner pieces of lamb can be placed under a preheated broiler for three to four minutes and then flipped to finish cooking. Place the pan on the second rack below the flame. Any closer and you not only risk burning the meat, but the middle of the steak has a better of chance of cooking through and staying tender if it’s not too close to the heat source.
You can also place your lamb steaks on the grill over a high heat and cook for five minutes on each side for each inch of thickness. A two-inch thick steak will require about 10 minutes of cooking time on each side.