Yes I am aware it's a horrible thing to say, and I'm sure the writers of the hit uk tv show coupling was thinking the same thing but seriously it's so true.
In the effort to try and live closer to the land, one of the hardest things to do ins suburban environment is to have livestock, which really limits what you can do and what you can preserve and save money one, let alone the fact that if you buy meat from the supermarket, 2 lamb chops,out of the same packet could be from different beasts. So the next best thing... Buys a animal or half a full animal from a butcher and break it down yourself.
Obviously this is a bit of a leap for anyone who hasn't had any butchery skills, and by all means if you can find a good butcher, they will break down a side of a single beast for you into the cuts I have done but they will charge you do to so. Thankfully I have my chef training and a lot of years of working with meat behind me so it doesn't even seem that strange to have this amount of meat around me at one time, but it certainly can be daunting.
I got my side from a local butcher that usually sells sides of lamb and asked for it cut into three, shoulder and front leg, mid section and rump and back leg.
To do all this you will need a sharp boning knife and either a bone saw or a hack saw with a brand new blade, not the one you used to cut the plumbing pipe or the wood the other day, the cleaner you work the better you meat will be. I also used a vacuum sealing machine ( can be picked up for around $50 on eBay) and a hand mincer ( plebe don't make my mistake, if you are going to do this often please buy a electric mincer because lamb has a lot of sinew and will clog your mincer often)
The mid section is the easiest to get instant gratification from, without even trying you can get a beautiful 7-8 pin rack of lamb which would comfortable feed 2 people or one dry hungry person. Along with this their is a small fillet on the this inside of the rack, ribs which are amazing when marinated and grilled, and the back of the rack which makes amazing little chops for grilling or a fillet of lamb which is beautiful and tend with a lot of taste.
The front and back legs have the longer slower cooking parts of the animal and treated right can be the best, from the neck fillet which slow cooked with yoghurt, or the shoulder slow roasted, you can really go wrong. All of the cuts you get from a lamb can be either grilled quickly mor slowly cooked and get amazing results, probably with the exception of the rack and fillet with will probably go tough and tasteless if cooked for too long.
All in all I got a lot of meat off one side of lamb. 1 full leg of lamb, ready for the roast, a lamb rumb, fillet, 7 pin rack, lamb ribs ( currently sitting in a honey and soy marinade ready for the BBQ), a boned shoulder, shank and about a kilo of mince. All together. The lamb cost be $52 and about 1 hour of time breaking it down, and. When I checked out the supermarket to buy the same amount probably would have cost about 120-130 without a problem.
Ultimately this was a great thing to do, not only do I know. That the meat I have has. Been butchered well but the cost savings alone make it worth doing this time and time again. Once I. Have a bigger freezer I will attempt a pig and a cow but for now a single side of lamb won't break the bank and will only fill about half of a small domestic freezer.
Please get in touch if you want guidance in breaking down a lamb or if you have another guidance for anyone getting into breaking down a lamb or other bet for the first time.
Cheers and happy eating!