Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Whole Lamb. The Breakdown.

First off, you'll need a lamb! This one is a grass fed, certified organic
lamb from Dixon Ranch in Decatur, Texas. 

Here's a Whole Lamb Carcass, completely cleaned. 

As with everything else, there are multiple ways to go at a Whole
Lamb - I decided to split the animal in half first. Many places will separate
the animal at the two places, between the Shoulder and the Rib and again
between the Loin and the Legs. 

Right past the Legs and into the Loin. 

Now into the Rib.

(Wipes sweat!) Now into the Shoulder and Neck. 

Almost done!

Excellent. It wasn't precisely in half, but pretty darn close. 

Now! Though it's hard to see, I'm going to split this side in half
between the Rib and the Loin. There are 13 ribs on every animal.
The Loin and the Rib are split between the 12th and 13th rib.

Make your cut all the way down to the spine.  

A quick buzz... 
And there you go!

This is the Hind Quarter of the animal. Cut the flap of meat between the 13th
rib and the top of the leg off. If this was beef, this section would house the Skirts, Sirloin Flap
and Flank Steak. With Lamb this meat is used for trim. Cutting this meat away will give your
hand a bit more room to work. 
This is the Aitch-Bone. Start working on this with the tip of your knife,
as always, try not to leave any meat on the bones. 
This picture is showing the curve of the Aitch-Bone. The muscle thats attached
to it is the Sirloin. exactly how you'd work a Pork Sirloin off the bone, follow
the curve until the meat comes free. 
Like so. 

Remove the Loin from the Sirloin Primal using the same method
as separating the Rib from the Loin. Find the end of the Aitch-bone and cut
straight down until you hit the spine. 

Now to remove the Rib from the Shoulder. Make an incision between
the 5th and 6th ribs and follow it down to the spine. 

Once the Rib is removed, buzz off the Spare Ribs (Riblets). 
Rib Primal. 

Whole Shoulder. 

Buzz off the neck to square off the primal. 

Then line up the Shoulder to cut through the Foreshank and Brisket. 

And there you have it! One whole side done. 
Repeat the process to leave you with two of each cut.
Starting at the top right and moving over in columns: Shoulder, Neck, Neck
Shoulder, Foreshank, Foreshank, Ribs, Spare Ribs (Riblets), Loins,
Legs, Aitch-bones for stock, Trim. 


  1. Nice post. I have a question. I cannot find good local lamb around. Do you have a recommendation on where I could go to buy so good local lamb?
    Is WFM a good place?
    Emphasis on local!

  2. Dario - Sorry I haven't responded sooner.. To answer your question, Whole Foods is NOT the place. The Lamb I demonstrated in the post was one of two that I ordered through the Grass fed Livestock Association. Every spring and every autumn Whole foods buys a herd of Sheep from the Dixon Ranch in Decatur, they usually come parted out but I contacted my regional coordinator to see if he could secure a whole one for me.