How to Chop Up Sheep ~ Part 2

Mutton and Lamb Carving ~ Snuff 'em, cut 'em and stuff 'em (I know, tasteless, really)

Extract from Isabella Beeton's Book of Household Management ~1861

Haunch of Mutton

A deep cut should, in the first place, be made quite down to the bone, across the knuckle-end of the joint. This will let the gravy escape; and then it should be carved, in not too of the haunch.  

Leg of Mutton

This homely, but capital English joint, is almost invariably served at table. The carving of it is not very difficult: the knife should be carried sharply down and slices taken from either side, as the guests may desire, some liking the knuckle-end, as well done, and others preferring the more underdone part. The fat should be sought. Some connoisseurs are fond of having this joint dished with the under-side uppermost, so as to get at the finely-grained meat lying under that part of the meat, known as the Pope's eye; but this is an extravagant fashion, and one that will hardly find favor in the eyes of many economical British housewives and housekeepers.    

Loin of Mutton

There is one point in connection with carving a loin of mutton which includes every other; that is, that the joint should be thoroughly well jointed by the butcher before it is cooked. This knack of jointing requires practice and the proper tools; and no one but the butcher is supposed to have these. If the bones be not well jointed, the carving of a loin of mutton is not a gracious business; whereas, if that has been attended to, it is an easy and untroublesome task. The knife should be inserted and after feeling your way between the bones, it should be carried sharply. As there are some people who prefer the outside cut, while others do not like it, the question as to their choice of this should be asked.    

Saddle of Mutton

Although we have heard, at various intervals, growling expressed at the inevitable "saddle of mutton" at the dinner-parties of our middle classes, yet we doubt whether any other joint is better liked, when it has been well hung and artistically cooked. There is a diversity of opinion respecting the mode of sending this joint to table; but it has only reference to whether or no there shall be any portion of the tail, or, if so, how many joints of the tail. Some trim the tail with a paper frill. The carving is not difficult: it is usually cut quite down to the bones, in evenly-sliced pieces. A fashion, however, patronized by some, is to carve it obliquely, in which case the joint would be turned round the other way, having the tail end on the right of the carver.

Shoulder of Mutton

This is a joint not difficult to carve. The knife should be drawn from the outer edge of the shoulder until the bone of the shoulder is reached. As many slices as can be carved in this manner should be taken, and afterwards the meat lying on either side of the blade-bone should be served. The uppermost side of the shoulder being now finished, the joint should be turned, and slices taken off along its whole length. There are some who prefer this under-side of the shoulder for its juicy flesh, although the grain of the meat is not so fine as that on the other side.    

Fore-quarter of Lamb

We always think that a good and practiced carver delights in the manipulation of this joint, for there is a little field for his judgment and dexterity which does not always occur. The separation of the shoulder from the breast is the first point to be attended to; this is done by passing the knife lightly round so as to cut through the skin, and then, by raising with a little force the shoulder, into which the fork should be firmly fixed, it will come away with just a little more exercise of the knife. In dividing the shoulder and breast, the carver should take care not to cut away too much of the meat from the latter, as that would rather spoil its appearance when the shoulder is removed. The breast and shoulder being separated, it is usual to lay a small piece of butter, and sprinkle a little cayenne, lemon-juice, and salt between them; and when this is melted and incorporated with the meat and gravy, the shoulder may, as more convenient, be removed into another dish. The, next operation is to separate the ribs from the brisket, by cutting through the meat. The joint is then ready to be served to the guests; the ribs being carved, and then brisket . The carver should ask those at the table what parts they prefer - ribs, brisket, or a piece of the shoulder.    

Leg of Lamb, Loin of Lamb, Saddle of Lamb, Shoulder of Lamb, are carved in the same manner as the corresponding joints of mutton  

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