For many home cooks, just the thought of a delicious leg of lamb will leave them salivating before they even hit the supermarket. But the idea of carving it? Well, that’s enough to send them running for a different cut of meat. It might seem scary, but learning how to carve lamb roasts can give more tender mouthfuls of meat and stop all your hard work from being ruined by the stroke of a knife.
While different cuts of lamb will require slightly different techniques, generally your carving technique should always boil down to one simple rule: always carve across the grain.
How do I carve across the grain?
Depending on how pedantic you want to be about language, this technique is either called cutting across or against the grain. Basically, it means that rather than following the grain in your meat you cut across it – at a right angle to the bone. To figure out which direction this is, simply look at your cut of meat. You will see faint lines within the meat of muscle fibres. Place your meat on your cutting board so that the fibres are running from left to right horizontally, then cut perpendicularly through those fibres rather than parallel with them.
Why do we carve lamb roasts across the grain?
When you cut with the grain of the meat, you wind up with pieces of long muscle fibres. Despite all your best cooking know-how, cutting in this way can leave you with a rubbery meat that is simply unpleasant to chew. However, when you carve across the grain you’re shortening those muscle fibres which makes for a more tender mouthful.
How to carve roast leg of lamb
While some cooking techniques and lamb cuts, like our slow cooked lamb shoulder recipe, will give you meat so tender it practically falls off the bone, others will require a little bit of work to get it right.
Roasting a leg of lamb with the bone in gives you more depth of flavour, but can seem more difficult to carve since you have two sides of meat separated by a thick bone. If you follow these tips, you’ll never have trouble carving a leg of lamb ever again:
- After resting your meat, place it on your carving board with the bone coming towards you.
- Assess your meat. Decide which side looks easier to carve and tackle that side first. This may involve turning your meat around or flipping it over.
- Cut your meat into slices across the grain. At this stage you should be cutting perpendicular to the bone. You should feel your knife touch the bone when you cut.
- Keep working along the side of meat in this manner until one side is entirely sliced.
- Once you’ve cut the side into slices it is time to remove them from the bone. This time, you’ll want to run your knife parallel to the bone to remove the slices. Don’t worry too much about getting all the meat off the bone in this step, just keep your cut nice and clean.
- Place your lamb slices on a plate and cover loosely with a piece of aluminium foil to help it stay warm.
- Turn your lamb around and repeat steps 3 -6. Be careful of the direction you’re cutting as it will be a different angle to the first time – just be sure to go across the grain.
If you find there is a fair bit of meat leftover on the bone, simply cut it away in smaller pieces are reserve for leftovers