Master butcher Rudi Weid welcomed several dozen home cooks to the Institute of Culinary Education this past weekend to show them how to break down a whole lamb carcass. The 110-pound humanely and sustainably raised animal from Three Corner Field Farm in Shushan, New York, was then auctioned off, piece by piece, to benefit Slow Food NYC’s Harvest Time Program.
Weid started by removing the head with a hand saw, which drew a few nervous giggles from the crowd, then proceeded to break down the body. A few interesting factoids: Lamb fat is where lanolin comes from, so those who butcher their own lambs tend to have really soft hands. Lamb fat is great for making kosher or halal pastries, which would otherwise use lard. And, finally, when breaking down a lamb, you should always make sure the hock gland is removed to avoid the pungent taste it gives off.
“Most butchers don’t do it,” says Weid. “They don’t even know about it.” Still, it’s worth it to ask your butcher to remove the tiny round nubbin, located in each hind leg. If he doesn’t know about it, find a new butcher. Or you can always take cleaver in hand and do it yourself.