About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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Friday, March 24, 2006
Carve It Up
The lamb roast is a dinky-di Australian institution. A leg of lamb roasted until a burnished brown, scenting the kitchen, then served with all the trimmings, roast potatoes, carrots and pumpkin, blanched green beans or peas, and gravy made with the pan juices that have nicely caramelised. It was usually a Sunday special, but now could pop up any day of the week.

A few years ago, the lamb marketing people ran a campaign in which a young girl was told she had won a date with Tom Cruise, this was long before he got all excited on Oprah. The girl was all excited about her prize until she realized that the date was going to clash with her mum's roast lamb dinner. Being the good Aussie girl she chose the roast lamb over Tom. At the time of the ad, this would have been unheard of, but these days a bit easier to understand.

Forgive me for being a little hazy here, because this might have come from another blog, if it has, let me know and I will credit you, but I'm pretty sure this came from Full On Food. That guy from The Fat Duck restaurant in England was on, Heston Blumenthal, and was discussing meat, when he briefly mentioned he felt that everyone was carving lamb the wrong way. He pointed out that the meat fibers run parallel to the bone, and that most people carve their lamb parallel to the bone.

Most of us understand that when carving meat, it's better to cut across the grain of meat fibers than to carve along them. By doing this meat will be more tender as we don't have to chew long fibres, which makes meat seem tough. If you look in my profile, you will see that I'm no spring chicken. All my life, since my first experience of cooking roasted leg of lamb, I have cut slices parallel to the bone, which I'm proud to admit I'm pretty good at, stripping a whole roast into neat slices, with only a bone leftover. Now someone was telling me there is a better way.

If Heston can turn water and chocolate and nothing else into chocolate mousse, we should listen to him. I did check a reference book on carving that showed a leg of lamb being carved the same way I did it, but this was to make sure that I hadn't missed a boat somewhere.

We had a lamb roast in the fridge and a couple of nights later, Wife D cooked it up. It felt peculiar to attack the leg of lamb a different way and it was not easy to get neat slices, they were also much smaller slices, but there I was, cutting at ninety degrees to the bone, in other words straight down to the bone. It was a real learning curve and next time should be a little easier. I said next time, because when we sat down to eat, D and I both thought the lamb was exceptionally tender. Remember that it's almost April, spring lamb is getting on a bit and tends to be tougher than lamb bought in September (we're in the Southern hemisphere here).

Of course if one took the bone out, carving would be a cinch, but meat cooked on the bone retains more succulence. But we will perservere with this way of carving, which when you think about it, makes so much sense that you wonder why you didn't think of it before, but then I never thought of serving snails with porridge either.

One things for sure, you can teach an old cook new tricks.
  posted at 8:24 am

At 8:57 pm, Blogger plum said...

This is bizarre! I never did anything but carve lamb perpendicular to the bone and cannot imagine doing it otherwise! And I thought that was the normal way. Unless I was in England, in which case the slices were thin, large and cut parallel. How peculiar. I'll have to have a think about it.

At 4:33 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi Plum, doesn't it make you feel good to know that you have been doing it right all along? The rest of us have to catch up.


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