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Buying Lamb Chops for Greek Cooking


Lamb chops from the butcher

8-10 rib chops to the pound, 1/2 inch thick

Photo © Jim Stanfield

Often, lamb chops found pre-cut in markets are the 3/4 - 1 inch thick loin chops, but to get the best and most authentic results when following Greek recipes for paithakia (which means little ribs), you need to start with rib chops:

  • look for chops from young animals, or
  • ask the butcher to cut them specially.

Baby (and small) lamb chops are often sold as a rack of lamb. The butcher can cut them into 1/2-inch chops.

The chops in the photo are just the right size - about 8-10 chops to the pound. They are from a young animal, so they're small and tender, and they're about 1/2 inch thick.

A "rack of lamb" is the full set of ribs, usually 8 ribs.

What's the difference in ages?

  • "Baby" lamb chops are from an animal 4-6 weeks old (in the U.S. this can also mean up to 10 weeks).
  • "Young" generally means the lamb was under a year old when slaughtered.
  • An animal 1-2 years old is "older."
  • Anything over 2 years when slaughtered is generally referred to as mutton. Mutton has its charms... small lamb chops, however, are not one.

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