Despite the love and pleasure food has brought me, it’s a conflicted affair. When I don’t eat I get grumpy. Bob Marley said, “a hungry man is an angry man.” I believe him. The closest thing to my heart is my belly. I hate being hungry. When I am really famished a salad and steamed veggies won’t do. When it’s been a long hard day of work, it’s meat I crave.
The yearning, I believe comes from my belly (or is that my hearty?). The meat comes from an animal and that’s the hard part. To satisfy my hunger an animal must die, it’s so primal. The factory food system has hidden this reality. In an attempt to learn what it takes to feed me and my friends I have ended up slaughtering a few animals. It has never been easy. One thing for sure there is nothing tastier and more satisfying than meat with a name.
Before you go out to confront the alienation between you and your meat and start killing your pets, I suggest you find a mentor. One who has experience with raising animals and slaughtering them. My first killing was some old hens. My teachers were a couple of 80 year old Basque women. For sheep and other wild game, Randy is my connection. For the kill, gutting and skinning it takes practice and should be done under tutelage.
Butchering on the other hand (well is a butchering). When you are good at it it can take 30 minutes. The first time I butchered a lamb, I did it alone, half one night and the other half the next. Bucky tasted awesome, but the cuts weren’t the best. The second time I butchered two deer with a friend. It took us all day to cut and wrap.
For Old Momma we took the whole carcass into Meats Royale on Overland and had them do the butchering. Well worth the money.
… Here’s Randy’s How to Butcher a lamb.
All you need is a knife and a meat saw. A Stanley Sharktooth saw is adequate, however, my friend gave me a Sheffield #77 (recently sharpened). It actually worked great. I have tried newer models and they do not cut straight or well. This was a dream.
First cut the front legs off of the carcass. There are no joints so this can be accomplished with only a knife. Then saw off the ends of the legs of at the point the meat begins and discard. Then saw the shank off above the joint in the leg. This gives you a shank for soup and a nice shoulder roast.
Next saw the rear legs off just behind the rib cage. Saw down the backbone and you have two legs ready to saw. Again, saw the meatless lower bones off and discard, Saw the shanks off above the lower joint. You can adjust how large or small you would want your shanks. Now you have a beautiful leg of lamb. On a large lamb you may want half the leg and make two leg of lamb roasts.
Next saw ahead of the ribs and you have a nice neck roast.
The next part gets a little more challenging. Saw the ribs off perpendicular to the backbone. Saw ribs just below the loin. The ribs have a lot of give and sawing the ribs can be difficult even with a sharp saw. You may want to consider (if you have room) freezing the rib cage, it will saw much easier.
There is no need to saw down the backbone if you are using a hand saw to cut chops or racks, however, with a band saw you may need to slit the backbone to manage. Next choose whether you want to saw chops from the backbone or racks. I prefer racks with a hand saw, chop thickness can be variable with a hand saw, and the racks cook beautifully.
I would suggest a minimum of four ribs to a rack. With a small lamb I will saw 2 or 3 racks a large lamb 3 to 5.
The ribs can left full length, halved or cut in thirds. They work well on a gentle grill, they cook fast and can dry out quickly.
Package and mark your cuts and enjoy..
— Farmer Marty
That was a great post. I would like to butcher my own lamb some day, and that description certainly helps. You mentioned difficulty sawing the breast bone. Is there any reason why you couldn’t do that with a good quality cleaver and a mallet? I have seen video of a man splitting the backbone of an about 100 pound pig that way in about 20-30 seconds. It was pretty impressive actually.
Hopefully Randy will chime in. This is Marty. I find the cleaving to be a bit sloppy. a lot of bone fragments end up in the meat.
M, the other night I put some of your burger (the garam masala) and some chick peas in the slow cooker (with some spice from the Indian market). Threw that atop some brown basmatti, it was a big hit. Leftovers for lunch today.