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The Lamb Cuts

     

 

Lamb is the description applied to a sheep that is slaughtered in its year of birth (i.e. 6-8 months old). The flavour is usually more delicate than from older animals. Hogget describes sheep that are slaughtered in the year following their birth (i.e. 10-15 months old). These are usually the slower maturing breeds such as the Primitive ones. These are usually very lean and the texture of the meat is much more dense than more conventional breeds, almost a cross between lamb and venison. Mutton is meat from older sheep usually two years or more. Mutton has more flavour than Lamb but the meat may be tougher and have more fat cover.

By studying the certificate that we provide, you can easily see how old the animal was. We select animals for when they are at the peak of fitness to ensure the very best eating qualities.

1. The Leg
The leg of lamb or mutton is probably the best known joint and the first that people think of when they think of sheep meat. Leg of lamb can either be fast roasted and served a little rare or slow roasted with the meat falling off the bone Ė both make excellent meals. The leg of mutton will be fattier and must be slow roasted but it will be full of flavour. When cut into smaller joints, the thick end of the leg (the thigh) is known as the Chump End while the narrower, pointed cut is the Knuckle or Shank. In recent years more and more chefs are offering braised Shank which is awakening peopleís taste for what is an excellent cut. You can also choose to buy Leg Steaks on the bone which are slices through the whole leg suitable for barbecues, grilling or frying, also known as Gigot Chops.

2. Loin
The Loin is where the best cuts are to be found. The rear section is the Chump which can be roasted either bone-in or boned to provide a delicious, small joint which can be quick roasted and served rare. More commonly it is cut into Chump Chops which are meaty and delicious, however you choose to cook them. The forward part of this part of the back is the Loin which can be roasted bone-in or again, cut into Loin Chops. On smaller breeds, these are left as doubles which are sometimes called Butterfly Chops or, as we prefer, Barnsley Chops. We can also supply the Loin boned-out which makes for easy carving and lends itself to being stuffed for a special occasion. With extra trimming, this boned-out loin becomes a Noisette that requires only light cooking and will be spoilt if over cooked. Any joint of the loin of a young animal is suitable for quick roasting for serving pink. The various chops are all suitable for frying and grilling (or even barbecuing). Two loins left whole (from either side of the backbone) are known as the Saddle of Lamb and it is worth considering this cut for a dinner party or special family occasion. The joint is lean with plenty of meat and again is suitable for quick roasting and serving pink if you prefer your lamb this way.

3. Best End Neck
Forward from the Loin towards the neck is the Best End. From this part we get Lamb Cutlets, on the bone but with a smaller section of meat than on a chop, they are suitable for frying, grilling or barbecuing. As with the Loin, the section of lean meat can be removed and this is another version of the Noisette, albeit with a smaller section than that above but very delicious. Instead of cutting the ribs into Cutlets, they can be served in one piece known as a Rack of Lamb for roasting. With the ends of the cutlets French-trimmed, with the last centimetre or so of bare bone exposed, this is traditionally served with little paper trims shaped like a chefís hat slid onto the ends for an extra wow factor for a special meal. Finally, as with the Saddle, both sides of the Best End can be left together and formed into a Crown Roast, the ultimate in lamb dishes. The Cutlets (eight on either side) are served resting on the broad end with the French-trimmed bones uppermost and, again, with the paper decorations. The resulting hollow circle lends itself to being stuffed with something like an apricot-based stuffing for a truly memorable meal.

4. Middle Neck and Scrag
This is the most forward of the upper cuts from the lamb carcase and, just like the beef and pork, these cuts are ideal for long, slow cooking in stews and casseroles. They can be filleted for such dishes but donít forget that famous dishes such as Irish Stew and Lancashire Hotpot traditionally use the bones as well. The bones soften during such cooking adding flavour to the dish. Fillets from the neck are very versatile for a variety of recipes.

5. Shoulder
Personally speaking, I would always choose the Shoulder, slow roasted on the bone, for the finest flavour and succulence. The Shoulder can be cut into the blade end and the knuckle end which includes the very top part of the front leg. Also, we can supply it boned and rolled for easy cooking and carving. This is another joint that lends itself to stuffing with perhaps herbs and garlic. The extra fat on this cut helps baste the boned joint from within.

6. Breast
Most people reject the Breast (which includes the belly) as something below their dignity but this is a cheap cut which will provide a delicious and nutritious meal with a little effort. Slow roasted, you should pour off the excess fat and the bones will be easy to remove once the cooking is complete. Alternatively, you might like to roll it around a stuffing of breadcrumbs flavoured with herbs to absorb some of the fat.

Other Choices
That concludes our tour of the lamb carcase. We also offer Diced Lamb, being lean shoulder meat ideal for stews and casseroles and Prime Lamb Mince for Shepherdís Pie, Moussaka, or making your own delicious Lamb Burgers. Alternatively, you might like to select our own-made lean Lamb Burgers with Mint which are perfect for barbecues or for a special treat for youngsters.

Offal
We offer Lambís Hearts, small tender and very tasty when casseroled with bacon or stuffed, Lambís Liver, probably the first choice for most people and Lambís Kidneys, delicious whether for a breakfast treat devilled or as part of a mixed grill. Look through your recipes for a delicious kidney casserole.

If you require more information, we'd be delighted to help. Please send an e-mail to mail@rarebreedsbutcher.com, or call us on +44 (0) 1531 632744

 

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