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While chicken, beef, and pork are quite commonly found at certain parties and events, lamb is more something of a rarity. It is a delicious rarity, however, and you’d be fortunate to have it at your event, but it will come at some cost. Exactly how much lamb per person are you going to need and what is it going to cost you?
It is customary usually to give each guest six to eight ounces of meat, though this will change depending on whether you have purchased bone-in meat or boneless meat. With the bone in, you should plan to have a pound or so per person since a lot of the weight will be attributed to the bone.
There are a lot of great things about having lamb at your party or holiday dinner, but it’s important to understand what having it entails. Read on to learn some information about cooking lamb, how much to serve, the potential pricing, and much more. This information should be key in helping you decide whether cooking lamb is indeed the right choice for your event!
How Many Pounds?
Serving lamb can get somewhat complicated, especially since there’s a lot of money and fat to contend with. As mentioned earlier, the amount of lamb you buy will depend greatly on whether or not the cuts you’re purchasing have bones in them or not. A leg of lamb with a bone that weighs, say, five pounds, might only be enough to feed four or five people. A boneless cut might go a bit farther.
According to Roseville Meats, if you are planning to feed 100 or so people (including children), you might need as many as 85 pounds of meat. This is if you are purchasing bone-in lamb. If you were to purchase boneless cuts, you might be able to half that number and get away with having only 45 or so pounds of meat.
You will, of course, have to adjust accordingly depending on how many people you’re feeding as well as whether or not you want leftovers, and, of course, the part the lamb will play in your course. If you are planning to feature it as the main attraction in the meal, you’ll certainly want to buy lots of it.
If you were planning only to serve it alongside the main course or as a part of a larger dish, you could probably get away with buying a bit less than you would if it were to be the main dish. Just make sure you’re still buying enough to satisfy all of your guests, whether that’s 50 people or 100.
This is not a super difficult thing to do. Again, stick to six to eight ounces per person if you have boneless meat, and try for at least a pound if possible for bone-in lamb. If you aren’t entirely sure, you can always order extras just in case. That way, even if it’s quite a bit more than needed, you’ll at least have some leftovers to use.
You must plan and know exactly how much to order because lamb can become pretty expensive. This will, of course, vary a little depending on where you order it from and if you’re using a catering company. Lamb can get even more expensive than beef, so you won’t want to overorder because that might run you up a pretty large bill.
Cooking Lamb Just Right
Now you know how much meat you’re going to buy, so it’s time for the fun part which is seasoning and cooking that lamb. Just as with beef, chicken, pork, fish, and all other meat out there, lamb can be had in a thousand different ways. Which one should you choose? Here are a few ideas to get you started.
First, you have the classically great and delicious garlic and rosemary lamb. It doesn’t matter if you’re cooking lamb chops or lamb roast, garlic and rosemary will accentuate the gamey meat, creating a rich, tender mouthful. Rub the spices in along with some salt, pepper, and butter, and your guests will never be happier.
Braised lamb shanks will ensure you get a tender batch of lamb as long as you cook it just right. It’ll take a bit of preparation, but the flavoring is fairly simple and still quite delicious. You’ll be using onions, carrots, fennel, garlic, parsley, and a few other things to season your shanks. It’s easy on the tastebuds so you won’t have to worry about eating anything too shocking.
Sumac and artichoke lamb is another favorite. This one might be a tad more of an acquired taste, especially since the artichokes are flavored with mint. However, you shouldn’t be disappointed with this delicately cooked and earthy seasoned lamb. It is certainly a fun thing to try, especially for the first couple of times. If nothing else, you’ll be able to wow your guests with your outstanding cooking skills.
If you prefer to remain on the side of tradition, then you’d be happy with this simple yet delicious roast leg of lamb recipe. It is somewhat similar to the garlic and rosemary lamb in that it employs the use of both garlic and rosemary (if you’d like) but it also employs the use of many other great spices like parsley, thyme, and whatever else you’d like to use.
You can always try the slow-roasted spiced lamb shoulder if exotic flavors appeal to you. Seasoned with coriander, sumac, paprika, cardamom, onions, and a few other select spices, this cut of meat will prove pretty bold and flavorful. It will impress your guests for sure, and don’t be surprised if, later, you’re asked for the recipe by a few people.
If you’re a full-blooded American (and even if you’re not) a barbecued lamb roast will hardly disappoint. Marinate your lamb with lemon, paprika, salt, pepper, garlic, maybe some cayenne (or chili powder), and a few other familiar flavors if you’d like. Not only will the flavor be bold, but it will also provide you with just the right amount of heat that’s pretty satisfying for most people. If you don’t handle spicy food well you might want to steer clear of this recipe. However, it’s worth giving it a try at least once!
Delicious as it is, lamb is an incredibly rich meat that needs something mild or healthy (or both) to ground it and even accentuate it. Give the caterer a call and have them bring some other dishes or even whip up a few on your own. Here are some things you could try.
A vegetable is always a good idea, preferably one with a light nature and a light taste. Broccoli is one such vegetable that is quite gentle on the tastebuds and the stomach. Blanch some broccoli and drizzle some butter and salt and pepper over the top. It will prove to be the perfect side dish for your lamb!
Asparagus is another green veggie that will complement your lamb quite well. It is a common misconception that asparagus is tough and bland but that isn’t the case, at least as long as you cook it right. Sautee your asparagus with butter, garlic, salt, pepper, and a little parmesan cheese. If you’d rather not sautee it, air frying is also an option.
A simple salad might also be just the thing your lamb needs. This is a fun option because you can practice your creative skills and be quite versatile. You can choose anything from a simple caesar to a garden salad to a pear and pomegranate balsamic. Most salads will provide a fresh breath of air alongside your lamb, no matter what kind and no matter how the meat is cooked.
Potatoes of almost any sort are usually winners (though they, too, can be quite rich and you might still want a green vegetable to accompany the meal). Whether you’re mashing, smashing, roasting, scalloping, boiling, or shredding, potatoes flavored with some salt, pepper, butter, garlic, and occasionally cheese, will go quite well with most cuts of lamb.
If you’d like to add an exotic or fancy flair to your meal, you can add in a side of Mediterranean vegetables and flavor your lamb accordingly. Throw together a pan of peppers, tomatoes, carrots, squash, and any others you might feel to include in the mix. Flavor those with some fresh herbs a little salt, and some olive oil, and you’ll have a perfectly refreshing side on your hands.
Sweet potatoes might even make their way into the mix, whether you want to mash them or put them in a casserole. One popular form of sweet potatoes is to cut them into fries. Fry up/bake some sweet potatoes and season them with a little salt and garlic. Those will add a lovely, sweet tone to your meal, especially if the lamb is bold and savory.
No rule says fruit can’t make its way onto the list! One site recommends making a little fruit salsa or dip that will provide a sweet and tangy contrast to your lamb. If you enjoy sweet and spicy, you might even consider creating a mango-chili or watermelon-chili jelly or dip to go along with your lamb. You won’t be disappointed!
What to do With Leftovers
It is not uncommon at catered events for there to be a lot of leftover food. The company catering for you may or may not allow for the leftovers to be given away, but if possible, try to either distribute the leftovers or take them home yourself. This will limit waste. The only question is, what do you do with all that leftover lamb?
If you have a lot of leftover meat, you might consider throwing it into a bold and savory lamb stew. Most recipes tend to ask for lamb shoulder specifically, but any kind of lamb you have on hand should suit your needs just fine. Chop up the lamb, throw in some carrots and potatoes, and you’ll have a lovely and comforting lamb stew on your hands.
If you’re a lover of Indian food, you could even try your hand at making some lamb curry. Using lamb, turmeric, curry, onions, tomato paste, and a few other select flavorings, you can concoct a surprisingly simple yet delicious batch of curry that will satisfy any cravings you might have for exotic food.
If you’ve ever had Greek food, you’ll know that lamb is a prominent ingredient in the ever more popular gyro. If you’d care to purchase or whip up some tzatziki yogurt sauce and pita bread, you can chop up your leftover lamb and make some gyros of your own. These can be quite tasty, especially if you have seasoned your lamb and sauce just right.
Shepherd’s pie is another option. Ground beef is the go-to for this dish nowadays but using leftover lamb will add a spark of flavor to the shepherd’s pie. Add some carrots, potatoes, green beans, cheese, and corn, and you’ll be good to go. This is a particularly comforting dish to serve on a cold day.
If you’ve never heard of the dish burning love, you are missing out big time. This dish is customarily made with bacon, but a good, savory batch of leftover lamb will do just fine. Toss the lamb with some fried or sauteed onions and serve it on a warm bed of creamy mashed potatoes. This is a dish that you’re going to have to make again and again.
Spaghetti or ragu is always a favorite, but have you ever tried making it with lamb? Making spicy lamb ragu/spaghetti sauce just might change your life. It will add some bold new flavoring to the sauce and it could become your new favorite way to have ragu. Plus, this is a fairly easy way to get rid of all your leftover meat.
You can go here for a couple of other ideas!