Bone-In Lamb Is Worth The Extra Effort

Lamb is a delicious meat, and a big part of that is its bones, a repository of flavor. Although it might seem easier to carve the hunk of meat with the bone omitted, it contains collagen and marrow — the spongelike tissue in the center. When roasted properly, that flavor trickles down into the cut.

This marrow is not only tasty; it also has health benefits. According to Healthline, consuming bone marrow can decrease inflammation and promote joint health. What's more, leaving the bone on creates a more impressive final product. With the right technique, it can be easy to carve bones and extract marrow, depending on the type of cut.

For example, with a rack of lamb, be sure to slice downward perpendicular alongside the bone, almost scraping it. Make sure to leave some still attached. Leftover bones can be used to make lamb bone soup, or even stock. But watch out for common mistakes people make with lamb bones, frequently yielding gamier results. Boiling them can occasionally intensify their flavor, making them overpowering.

How to choose the perfect bone-in cut

To find the perfect bone-in lamb, scope out your local butcher. For newcomers, it's a good idea to ask plenty of questions. Lamb can be quite pricey, especially with the bone included. Keep an eye out for lambs that are market weight, and veer away from older lambs known as mutton, as they tend to be tougher.

If opting for a traditional rack of lamb, be sure to marinate it. Lamb pairs well with rosemary, garlic, mint, thyme, and much more so don't shy away from a good marinade. If interested in a classic leg of lamb instead, given its inherent tenderness, marinating it is unnecessary. Instead, just season it a bit more heavy, and make sure to have the butcher trim it for you. Other bone-in cuts you might encounter include the crown, lamb shoulder, lamb shanks, perhaps making the decision feel overwhelming. Just remember, there's no wrong choice. 

Lastly, here's a secret for lamb lovers: You can ask your local butcher for bones separately, roast them, and then scoop out the marrow directly from the bone. That marrow offers versatile culinary possibilities, though perhaps most delightful when savored on its own or spread on a piece of toast. Still feeling sheepish? Just ask the butcher what's on sale, and let the best bone-in price win.