Tips for Preparing Lamb

When handling raw lamb be extremely careful that it does not come in contact with other foods, especially those that will be served uncooked because raw meats can contain E. coli bacteria. It is best to use a separate plastic cutting board for meats. Be sure you wash you hands and cutting board very well with hot soapy water after handling lamb. It is a good idea to add 2 TBS of bleach to two cups of water in a spray bottle and use this mixture to clean your cutting board after use.

Thaw uncooked frozen lamb in the refrigerator. You'll need to plan well ahead if you want to take advantage of this safest method of thawing since lamb thawing in the refrigerator will typically take about 24 hours. After defrosting raw cuts of lamb in this way they will be safe in the refrigerator for up to three or four days. If defrosting ground lamb, the safety margin in the refrigerator does down to one to two days.

There are two alterative methods that you can use for lamb thawing, although neither method is as safe since more handing and quicker changes in temperature are involved. You can put the frozen lamb (still tightly sealed in a freezer wrap or placed in a tightly-sealed bag) and submerge it in a sink or pot filled with cold water. After 30 minutes, drain all of the water and refill the sink or pot. Continue with this fill-and-drain approach every 30 minutes until the lamb is thawed. This thawing method for lamb is far quicker than the refrigerator method but has less margin of safety due to increased handling and quicker changes in temperature. If using this method to thaw your lamb, you should also plan to cook it immediately after thawing.

Lamb can also be thawed in the microwave, using microwave settings as indicated by the manufacturer. Once again, this method is not as safe as refrigerator thawing due to increased handling and quicker temperature change. Like cold water thawing, plan to cook your lamb immediately after thawing in the microwave.

Regardless of thawing method, make sure to wash your hands and any potential lamb contact surface immediately after use. We do not recommend thawing of lamb or any other meat at room temperature under any circumstance due to unevenness of temperature changes and microbial contamination risk. Studies show that thawing at room temperature increases risk of growth of unwanted bacteria including Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella enteritidis, Escherichia coli O157:H7, and Campylobacter. One further recommendation about the preparation of lamb pre-cooking: it is best to trim the fat from lamb before cooking not only to remove unhealthy fat, but to avoid producing an overly strong flavor in the lamb.

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