Lamb shoulder is often seen as the ugly sister of a leg of lamb because of the fattiness and awkwardness of carving. However, it is exactly because of the fat that the lamb shoulder can often be far tastier than the leg, especially if you slow cook it and the fat melts away leaving tender, moist pieces of meat. De-boning it before cooking makes it far easier to carve, and involves removing three bones from the meat, one by one – the hock, the blade and the joint.
Remove the hock first, which is the part of the shoulder that goes down to form the top of the leg. Move the hock around to find the joint and slice through the meat and tissue all the way round the joint and then through the joint itself with a knife. Discard the hock or use it for making stock.
Find the blade, which is a flat, triangular bone through the middle of the shoulder. One edge of the bone will be along one side of the shoulder. Slice down one side of it with a knife and then start to cut the meat away from the bone, cutting down onto the bone rather than into the meat. After you have teased all the meat off one side of the shoulder cut down the other side of the blade and tease the meat off the other side until you free the blade.
Remove the remaining bone – the joint – by slicing down the length of it with your knife, running the knife along the bone itself. Then cut the meat away from the bone, leaving as little meat on the bone as possible.
Using your knife, trim any excess fat from the remaining meat. Stuff and then roll the shoulder and secure it with cooking twine, or chop into pieces and slowly cook.
Make sure your knife is very sharp before starting.
Tips and warnings
- Make sure your knife is very sharp before starting.