How to Slice Mutton the Right Way

So you’ve got your perfectly roasted leg of lamb, perhaps lovingly prepared in your double Dutch oven, with tender carrots and potatoes.

Everyone’s at the table, ready to eat. But how do you slice it? It can be tricky to get good slices when working around a bone, so let’s look at how to do it, step by step. Bone-in leg of lamb is rich with flavor compared to boneless roasts, so the extra effort will be worth it.

We’ll also look at how to slice other cuts of mutton so that you’re prepared for anything.

Why it matters how you slice it?

We eat with our eyes. When people sit down to eat roast lamb, they are expecting their lamb to look appetizing. You want to achieve the right look for your slices.

The cut affects the tenderness. Knowing how to cut your roast can affect how tough or tender the meat is. When you cut, you want to cut through any connective tissue or other tricky bits that don’t make chewing easy. In addition, carving a tough slice of meat requires a different process from carving a tender one. You want your meat to be juicy, tender, and easy to chew.

How to slice mutton (bone-in roast)

Equipment

  • A sharp carving knife or chefs knife
  • A cutting board (try to get one that has a channel to hold the meat juices)
  • A serving platter
  • Aluminum foil

Note: You want the right kind of knife for the job. Certain cuts of meat require a specific knife to give you the effect that you’re after. If you don’t have the right kind of knife, you may find it challenging to cut through the meat – the best knives make your job easier.

Method

  1. Take a look at your leg of lamb. You will see that the bone goes through the meat at an angle, with two large pieces of meat on both sides. You want to begin with the part of the meat that seems easiest for you, and then flip the leg over and trim the other side.
  2. When cutting, cut across the grain into slices. You’ll be cutting down through the thickest part of the meat till you reach the bone. A good cut should run perpendicular to the bone, so across the meat’s grain: this is what enables you to cut through any tendons or tougher tissue.
  3. Continue to slice the meat, working your way up the bone by slicing straight down every time. Note that your meat slices will stay attached where they meet the bone – don’t cut them away from the bone yet.
  4. Once you have cut the large piece of meat into slices, now it’s time to cut those slices away from the bone. Do this by turning your knife so that it is now parallel to the bone. Begin at the end of the bone furthest away from you. Cut through the slices to detach them from the bone. You’ll want your knife to be close to the bone throughout this process. Then your slices will have as much meat on them as possible. However, don’t be too concerned about cutting away every scrap of meat – focus on getting large, clean slices first.
  5. Place your large slices on your serving platter, and cover the platter with aluminum foil to keep your slices warm.
  6. Now repeat this process with the large piece of meat on the other side of the leg (flipping it over). This time might be a bit trickier since the angle will not be the same, but it will work just as well. Add the slices from the second side of the leg to the platter. Cover them again with the foil.
  7. It’s time now to trim off those extra bits of meat from the bone. You’ll probably notice there’s a relatively good amount of meat left. While these pieces may not be enticing enough for your serving platter, they will make delicious sandwiches and snacks for later, so cut away as much meat as you can get. Make sure you save the bone to make a hearty lamb stock for other recipes.
  8. If you have used a cutting board with a channel, you’ll have tasty juices collected. Pour the liquid over your lamb slices, serve, and soak up the compliments!

How to slice mutton (boneless roast)

If you’ve bought a boneless piece of lamb, then, of course, it will be much easier to slice. Simply slice the meat from top to bottom, working your way from one end of the roast to the other. You will get nice, big slices for little effort.

If your roast is semi-boneless, you can use this same technique until you get to the bone. Once you reach the bone, follow the steps outlined above for the leg of lamb.

How to slice lamb very thinly (for a hot pot)

You may wish to slice lamb for dishes that require very thin slices, such as hot pots or other soups.

Here’s how you can get ultra-thin slices of meat:

  1. Freeze your leg of lamb, then let it defrost in the fridge for 24 hours. You want your lamb to be semi-frozen so that it will be easier to hold and slice but without being too soft.
  2. Sharpen your knife just beforehand to get those really fine slices.
  3. After every few slices, turn the leg of lamb so that the end stays flat. This will help you get more slices from your cut of lamb.

You won’t get slices that are as thin as you would if you used a commercial meat slicer, but they will be perfect for soups and stews.

If you’re slicing lamb before cooking

If you want to slice a cut of lamb before you cook it (if, for instance, you’re cutting it into steaks), then you’ll want to cook it as soon as possible once it’s cut.

Fresh lamb – before you slice it – only lasts for a few days in the fridge. When you slice it, you’re opening up more parts of the lamb to potential bacteria, so all the more reason to cover your slices and cook them quickly. For the best taste, cook them within days of buying your lamb.

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My name is Andy Wang, and I'm a retired chef. I used to work at the City Vineyard restaurant in NYC. I also had a culinary degree from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York. And this blog is where I share my love for knives and cooking with people like you.