Preparing Lamb For Cooking

 

The techniques shown here may require a little skill, but the results are well worth the effort taken. A boned joint is easier to carve than one with the bones left in, and a spectacular crown roast is a must for special occasions.

BONING A SHOULDER

A shoulder of lamb is an awkward joint to carve; removing the blade and shoulder bones prepares the joint so that it can be rolled and tied with or without a stuffing, then roasted or braised. You will then find it easier to carve. Cut away excess fat as you bone the joint.

1. Cut through the meat on either side of the blade bone, using a boning knife.

2. Cut through the ball and socket joint to separate the blade, and shoulder bones.

3. Holding the joint firmly, pull the bladebone sharply away from the meat.

4. Scrape the meat away from the shoulder bone; when free, pull the bone out.

TUNNEL BONING A LEG

This technique prepares a leg of lamb for stuffing, creating a neat pocket for the filling. It also makes carving easier. Trim off the fat from the outside of the joint and cut through the tendons at the base of the shank before you start boning.

1. Cut around the pelvic bone and through the tendons. Remove the bone.

2. Scrape flesh from shank bone; cut tendons at leg joint and remove shank bone.

3. Cut around leg bone when exposed, twist and pull out to remove.

BUTTERFLYING A LEG

This technique prepares the joint for grilling or barbecuing. The term "butterfly" refers to the shape of the joint after it has been split and cut almost through. Before butterflying, tunnel bone the joint.

1. Insert the knife into the leg bone cavity; cut to one side to split the meat open.

2. Open out the meat and make a shallow cut down the centre to keep it open.

PREPARING A RACK

The best end of neck, or rack of lamb, is one side of the animal's ribcage. There are usually 6-9 cutlets in a rack, which can be roasted. Before preparing the rack, cut off the skin and all but 1.25 cm of fat.

1. Place the rack of lamb on its side. Cut off the chine (back) bone.

2. Cut fat from ribs 5 cm from bone ends. Turn over and score between bones.

3. Cut and scrape away the meat and tissue from between the bones.

MAKING A CROWN ROAST

This joint takes its name from the fact that when one or two racks are tied together they look like a crown. Before making the crown roast, prepare a rack following steps 1-3 above. Stuffing can be packed into the central cavity of the crown before roasting if you like, or it can be baked in a separate dish.

1. Cut the membrane between the ribs so the rack can be bent.

2. Stand the rack meat-side out; curve to form a crown shape.

3. Bend the ribs outwards so the crown can sit upright. Tie string around the middle to hold the rack in place. Sew ends together, if you like. The joint is now ready for roasting.

MAKING A GUARD OF HONOUR

When the bones of two racks interlock like swords, a "guard of honour" is formed.

Prepare two racks as in steps 1-3 above, removing all outside fat if you like. Holding one rack in each hand with the meat and ribs facing inwards, push the racks firmly together so the bones interlock. The joint is now ready for roasting.

WHAT'S IN A NAME?

French culinary terms are often confusing, and the names given to cuts of lamb are no exception. The following list includes the most commonly used cuts.

• Carré d'agneau is a rack of lamb.

• Côte d'agneau is a chop taken from the loin or rack (best end).

• Couronne is a crown roast.

• Gigot is a leg of lamb.

• Garde d'honneur is a guard of honour.

• Noisette is a boneless cut from the saddle, tied with string.