Breaking Lamb

In case you didn’t know, for the past two months I’ve been apprenticing at Fleishers Craft Butchery in Red Hook, Brooklyn.  Fleishers is the best when it comes to craft butchery and locally sourced, sustainable meats. Over the course of my training, I have learned to break down whole carcass' of pigs, lambs, cattle, and poultry into their primal cuts.

Definition: A primal cut is a piece of meat, usually a muscle group, that is initially separated from the carcass in the butchery process.

There is obviously more division taking place after this initial cut, but primals are the building blocks for butchers. I'd like to share a bit of what goes into breaking down a lamb to a primal cut.

There are four main primal cuts to a lamb. Yeah, I’m sure you can find a chart on Google illustrating 15 different primals and 30 different sub-primals, but let's keep it simple with these basics:

  1. shoulder primal
  2. rib primal
  3. loin primal
  4. leg primal
 The lamb shoulder primal

The lamb shoulder primal

 Lamb Rib primal

Lamb Rib primal

 Lamb loin primal

Lamb loin primal

 Lamb leg primal

Lamb leg primal

After I’m done with a lamb, it looks a little like this...

 A full lamb broken down

A full lamb broken down

Oh, you see that handsaw?

Yeah, we learn the craft by doing everything old school and that includes a handsaw and muscle. As you can see in the above photo, I’ve broken this lamb carcass down into the four primals plus some extra cuts. I've also taken off the neck, fore-shanks (front legs), hind-shanks (back legs), and the spareribs.

Hopefully, you are still reading this and your head isn’t buried in a trashcan. If it is, have fun eating broccoli and carrots forever. However, if you’re dying to know more… I strapped a GoPro to my cap so you can get a bird's eye view in my Breaking Lamb video.

Check it out here.