I ordered a lamb this morning. $200 + about $60-70 for the cutting/wrapping. I should end up with about 45-50 pounds of delicious local lamb. I can’t begin to buy imported lamb at that price, much less local at the grocery store or even the farmer’s market.
It will be ready for the abattoir in May/June. I have to decide how I want it butchered. I have no idea how to tell the butcher how I want it. I would like to sound somewhat knowledgeable, so my research begins. I would like a rack and a leg and some ground and some stewing pieces. Everything else is up in the air for now.
Any thoughts or suggestions are welcome. Also recipes. Always recipes. This year lamb moves from the treat to the staple column. I can’t wait.
Generally, the choice you want to make is roasts, steaks, stew meat or mince. There’s some amazing cuts on a whole Lamb that you never see in normal supermarkets. For example, rolled saddle of lamb is a wonderful showoffy presentation dish that’s wonderful for a dinner party.
Similarly, you never see whole shoulders in a market but they can be great stuffed and slow roasted.
Personally, I like to butcher my animals so I just ask for whole primals and break them down from there. That way, I can seam butcher and extract whole muscles that would normally be cut or ground.
Yeah, I’d be thinking about how you want to eat it. Roasts, chops, stews/currys, etc.
Definitely want to get some roasts, loin chops are the bomb, closely followed by the cutlets, lamb shanks for slow cooking, the liver to make lambs fry and bacon (drool), some backstrap to put greek herbs on and fry and serve with a greek salad and some tzatziki, some diced lamb to make some Rogan Josh or another sweet lamb curry…
Basically you tell the butcher what kind and how much of each cut of meat you want. Naturally, some cuts like the loin or rack is going to be limited, but you can adjust the amount of “cheaper” cuts of meat like cubes, minced and brisket depending on your cooking style.
incidentally, for those who concern themselves with animal welfare prior to slaughter, lamb is a very good option. Certainly back in the north east of England where I came from the Swaledale lambs (or “swaddles” in the local vernacular) never saw the inside of shed all their lives. They spent their time in open fields or on the moors until collection and slaughter. Not strictly organic but certainly not intensive either.
Hopefully that’s much the same in other countries.
very much the same in Aus. never heard of any cases where Sheep are farmed indoors, one thing we do have is space. Shite soil in the main but space is not much of an issue.
Over in NZ it may be a bit different, I’ve heard rumours of sheep being confined indoors but that’s usually accompanied by stories of them being made to wear lingerie and lipstick so it’s hard to tell.
Make sure you get the neck- on my last processed sheep- in this case a 3 year old ewe but a hair breed which don’t get mutton-y as fast- they didn’t give me her neck. It might have been my fault because it was the first older “lamb” I’d had processed and I told them when in doubt, grind but she turned out tasting just like lamb and I wish I had that neck for stew.
Bone-in shoulder is good but I like a boneless cut as well because you can make some killer kabobs with good shoulder meat. For me, the shoulder and neck has the best flavor but all of it is good. Love ground meat for meatballs and home-cooked “gyros”.
Lamb is, IMHO, the most humane meat because the species really doesn’t tolerate abuse. They don’t do well crowded together and there is no taste benefit to making them overly fat. They need to move and graze to be healthy and to taste decent. Win/Win.
Also- we are just two people so we don’t need packs of 8 chops so I tell the butcher to “cut for two” so we get more manageable packs of 4.
US lambs (and sheep as well but we rarely get to eat those, so more’s the pity!) are pastured. My understanding from talking to farmers is that “factory farming” of sheep is pretty much impossible due to sheep behavior and their physical needs. I don’t know more details than that, though.
Actually, a lot of life stages in beef cattle production are pastured and free-ranged (as opposed to dairy cattle). It is only towards the end where it becomes more intensive. OTOH, we also eat dairy cattle (raised much more intesively) as meat, not just beef cattle.
My buddy just gave me a lamb a few weeks ago. I helped with the slaughter and returned in 10 or so days to help (watch) the butchering. So far I’ve prepared one leg of lamb (amazing) and a tagine using shanks (also great). In the freezer I have chops, roasts, etc.
Consider keeping the scrap and bone to make broth. When we did my lamb we did seven others as well and I took all the “waste”. We now have frozen freezer bags of broth, and the dogs have never been happier.
This was my instinct, but I spoke to the woman who tipped me to the lamb, and she said the butcher was not helpful in this regard. I am going to call them, but at this point, I don’t even know what questions to ask. Hence, the research.
Here, all I see are legs, chops and the occasional rack. It’s all NZ lamb. Nothing local. For local, you have to go to the farmer’s market and order it and pay an arm and a leg.
I am also looking into half a pig. We did that when I was a kid and it was the best pork I ever ate.
I’m truly sorry to hear that. As a small-time farmer we rely on our affiliated industries to help us spread the word and educate our customers.
A chart likethis one should be helpful. This is going to sounds obvious, but remember there are two sides to the lamb. So you could, for example, have one loin left entire as a loin roast, and the other cut into loin chops. You should be able to specify the thickness of the chops and how many per package.
I really like the breakdown of the leg in that chart into sections. You can look and clearly see that if you order sirloin chops, you can not also order a French-style leg because Section 1 is no longer available, but you could order an American-style leg.
Call around to your local pastured pork farmers, you might be able to get a split half or some other choice. Half a hog takes up a lot of freezer space.
A few years ago we started offering 25lb boxes of pastured pork that included chops, bacon, a 1/4 smoked ham, breakfast sausage, and bratwurst, and they were incredibly popular. Maybe someone local to you offers something similar.