About a month ago I assisted a local butcher with the butchery of some of our lambs. It was an interesting experience and I am pleased to have learnt some basic butchery skills. The day started fairly early (7am to be precise) – the butcher started with one of the largest lambs and demonstrated how the process is carried out.
The first step was to cut the lamb in half down its spine using a large saw. Then each of the sides were divided up into the following cuts:
- shoulder – this is taken off first after cutting around the blade and can quite simply be pulled off.
- leg – this is removed from the carcass just in front of the pelvis bone using a saw, then a boning knife was used to remove the pelvis bone so that only the leg bone remained and any excess fat was trimmed off.
- rib chops / cutlets – the cartilage at the bottom of the ribs was removed. Then a sharp knife was inserted between each of the ribs as close to the backbone as possible and then run down to the end of the rib. Finally a clever was used to remove cut through the backbone at the point of the initial incision.
- loin chops – after the rib chops have been removed, the loin was rolled up into the spine, then the clever was used to chop between each of the vertebrae to produce individual loin chops.
- scrag end / neck – this is removed after the shoulder by a saw and is divided into manageable pieces using the clever.
- stewing meat – this is made up of any trimmings from the lamb.
This process was carried out on all but one lamb, who had been nicknamed ‘tiny’ ever since he’d arrived, unfortunately this lamb was a triplet and did not grow particularly well over the 5 months he was with us and subsequently when it came to butchering him it was carried out slightly differently:
- rack of lamb (the rib section was left whole)
- scrag end; and
- stewing meat
It was from the butchery of the smallest lamb that I was able to try French trimming a rack of lamb. It was my first attempt and I found it interesting to try. The first thing I have to comment on is the amount of potential waste you have when you French trim a rack of lamb. I retained all of this meat and will be cooking it is a stew later this week. French trimming is a slow process, but it did make the dish look more inviting. I found that by snapping the rib at the very top and then gently pulling the bone downwards I was able to remove a lot of the cartilage and meat from the ribs and then tidied it up using a very sharp knife.
Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb
- Rack of lamb (French trimmed)
- 3 heaped tbsp homemade pesto (see homemade pesto recipe)
- 2 ½ tbsp bread crumbs
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
1. Preheat an oven to 190C fan.
2. Prepare the herb crust by combining the pesto, breadcrumbs and olive oil in a bowl.
3. Cover the rack of lamb with the crust, pressing it on firmly.
4. Heat some oil in a frying pan until it is very hot, then sear the lamb on both sides before placing in a roasting tray and cooking for:
- 8-10 minutes (rare)
- 10-12 minutes (medium)
- 12-15 minutes (well done)