Lamb Butcher Lamb is butchered in six sections: neck, shoulder, rib, saddle, kidneys (including fat), and legs. The aim is to get an almost 100% yield from the animal, i.e. to use every part of it, including any leftover trim.
Dividing up a lamb for a family meal is best done by a professional butcher, so the family cook gets only the cuts he or she needs. However, there are times when a small quantity of lamb has to be divided at home between several people. The neck and shoulder may be removed together as one piece, kidneys included in fat if liked, legs cut off from saddle or not, depending on size. What remains are the saddle, ribs, and shoulder. The various cuts for roasting and boiling (turning them into chops or stew) can be prepared at home: this chapter deals with how these prepared cuts are divided into individual servings—or what we call 'portions'.
The following list gives the weights and the number of portions obtainable from a saddle, an average-sized leg, a rack of ribs, or a shoulder. In the case of a leg, sometimes a small piece is cut off from the knuckle to be used as stewing meat. In this case, re-examine the rest of the leg before cutting into ribs or chops and include an extra portion. The weight given includes bones where possible: there should always be at least one good chopper plateful. Remember that the bones are good eating, too, boiled with vegetables to make stock.
Legs of lamb for roasting weigh about 21/2–3 kg (5–6 lb); legs for boiling weigh only slightly less than this. When divided up they will average 4 portions each or 6 small ones. A leg would serve 6 people if eaten with a salad. However, there is usually too much meat on them to use only one, so the number of people they feed will depend on what else is being served—how many vegetables and how many other meats or fish.
Lamb chops from the leg need little cooking when cut from a good sirloin end. The loin chops can be cut from a saddle. Rib chops, when in pairs, come from the rib section. They are good for quick cooking and broiling or pan-frying, because of a thin layer of fat over them. The chops from the shoulder area have much less fat on them so need to be treated differently—one way is to rub them with salt and mustard and leave them for an hour or so while the oven is heating up. Then cook them slowly, basting them with the juices. In France, these are called corselettes.
Lamb cutlets from a leg can be used in all the ways that chops can—except for roasts. The best way to get perfect ones is to start with a sirloin end and cut them from that. You need to take into account the size of each person's appetite when portioning out the meat—and watch for bones!
A shoulder may be roasted, stuffed, and tied up in a round shape or netted, or boned and cooked as a pot roast. It may also be boned, stuffed, and rolled to make a roast, but it will never be as tender as a leg of lamb. The shoulder is made into chops or cutlets, or the rib bones left in them may be used for stewing meat. The excess fat should be trimmed off before use except when making stock.