By Zoe Colville, The Chief Shepherdess
For those of the population that choose to have meat in their diet, the percentage of which who know the anatomy of the animal in which they are consuming is fairly low. Which isn’t a surprise as we have grown to be disconnected with our food whether that be meat or even cereals, vegetables and the like. I thought it might be a nice idea to put together this diagram as a brief explanation not only to what comes off a lamb but also which part is which and how we can prepare and cook the various cuts.
Lets start with the neck. We offer lamb neck fillets, of which there are two per animal and are two long pieces of meat. Also neck on the bone which typically can be cut into four circular slices. Both of which tend to be more tender if cooked low and slow although we have made lamb neck fillet skewers and they were delicious.
The shoulders are typically around 2.5kg joints and each lamb has two (its front legs essentially). They can be roasted or you can take out the bones and shoulder blade and roll and tie. Typically there tends to be a little more fat on a shoulder but great to slow cook and shred in wraps.
Lamb shanks, are usually the bottom half of the lambs back legs although sometimes butchers will also use essentially the fore arms as well. We tend not to offer lamb shanks as it means losing half the leg joints and these are very popular.
The ribcage is known as the rack. Which can be left whole and the meat scraped off the top of the bones called “French trimmed” or sliced into individual cutlets, just over a mouthful of meat on eat bone and beautifully tender. The lamb has two racks.
The loin is your lamb chops or if left as “double chops” are called Barnsley chops. Pretty self-explanatory, very sort after and a staple in European cuisine.
The breast is incredibly underrated. Often thought of as old fashioned or a cheap cut of meat. We are seeing a rise in its popularity though as “nose to tail” eating becomes more popular. We either trim off a lot of the fat and mince the breast or we trim, roll and tie as a little roasting joint. We cook for nine hours in Asian inspired flavours, cool in the fridge overnight then unroll and grill until crispy and shred, it’s DELICIOUS.
The lamb rump can be butchered a few ways. Left as a roasting joint you’ll get two and they’ll weigh around 600g each on average. Or they can be sliced into rump steaks also known as chump chops. These are stunning if marinated in mint and barbecued. Also, sometimes we will dice and sell as lean diced lamb for casseroles or curries.
The centre piece of every occasion, the leg of lamb. Can be kept whole, two 2.5 - 3kg joints or they can be cut in half or even three if the shank is desired too. Some people may even butterfly it so they would take out the bone and stuff and roll. Fairly lean piece of meat and very popular at easter even though most lambs aren’t born until easter so that’s a little misleading.
I hope this can help you when choosing what to buy or potentially given a deeper understanding of what’s entailed when butchering a lamb, maybe even have a go yourself at French trimming a rack!
About The Little Farm Fridge
The Little Farm Fridge is run by Zoe and Chris. Chris has farming in his blood and spent his childhood on his family farm in Kent. Zoe spent her childhood outdoors with her imaginary animals and tent making. At 18 she moved to London to train as a hairdresser where she spent all her time until she met Chris and slowly migrated back to Kent. Slowly they have built up their flocks and herds until now they have quite a menagerie of animals, grazing pockets of land all over the county (and beyond). One thing is for certain, the passion they have for their livestock is ever present. Even in the wettest winter or the driest summer they strive for nothing but the best.