Although lamb is pricey in most parts of the country, a few overlooked cuts still offer good value. One is lamb flaps, known more formally as breast of lamb. It's the portion of the animal's chest that contains the gristly ends of the ribs, trimmed away when the butcher cuts racks and rib chops. The meat is relatively tough for lamb, and is interleaved with thick bands of fat. Traditionally it's deboned, stuffed and rolled, then roasted so much of the fat can render and drip away.
Preparing Your Flaps
Examine your flaps to see if they are bone-in or boneless. If they still contain the ends of the ribs, you'll need to remove them. Slide a thin, sharp knife under the flat layer of bones and gristle. Trim them away with long, smooth strokes of the knife, keeping it angled toward the bone to minimize wastage.
Trim away any thick layers of fat at either the inside or outside surface. If you're patient, you can minimize the fat further by carefully separating the layers of fat and lean meat and then stacking the meat layers back together. Leave at least 1/4 inch of fat on the outside, to protect the meat from drying as it cooks.
Season the meat inside and out with salt and pepper, or other seasonings and fresh herbs as desired. If you wish, you can stuff the inside with your favorite bread or whole-grain mixture.
Roll the deboned flaps on your cutting board, shaping them into one or more tight cylinders. Tie them with butcher's twine, to maintain their compact shape as they cook.
Cooking Your Flaps
Preheat your oven or barbecue to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat, and sear the tightly-rolled lamb flaps until they're well browned on all sides.
Place your flaps on the rack of a roasting pan, and slide it into the oven. If you're using a grill, turn off one of your burners. Place the lamb there, so it won't cause flare-ups as the fat drips out.
Slow-roast the lamb in your oven or grill until the stuffing in the middle reaches a temperature of 160 F, approximately 2 to 2 1/2 hours. The tough muscles and connective tissues will soften during the slow cooking, giving the lamb a rich and tender texture.
Remove the lamb to a serving tray and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing the string and serving.
- On Cooking: A Textbook of Culinary Fundamentals: Sarah Labensky, et al.
- The New York Times: Lamb, Rolled and Stuffed
- Mrs. Wheelbarrow's Kitchen: What to Do with Lamb Belly?