How to butterfly a leg of lamb

It’s a relatively simple kitchen skill, but one that will add flavour and texture to your meat. Here’s how best to prepare your next leg of lamb

We’ve all heard of the ‘butterfly effect’. It’s the idea that, through a small action, you can effect much larger change in the future. Coincidentally, this also applies to butterflying a leg of lamb. Deboning and rolling out your meat may be a small action, but one that will lead to a much more tender and tasty meal further down the line.

It’s a surprisingly simple kitchen skill to master and involves spreading your leg of lamb out to a relatively uniform thickness. This way, you can barbecue the meat, grill it, or tie it up with string and roast it — and it will cook more evenly than if it was left on the bone. Here’s how to do it.

Firstly, get to the bone

Your first step in butterflying a leg of lamb involves a very sharp knife. Hold the end of the leg with one hand and carefully cut into the meat until you reach the bone.

Once you’ve found it, score down the length of the leg — keeping close to one side of the bone as you do. Ideally, this is a smooth motion intended to expose the bone — but don’t worry if it takes a couple of goes before you can see the whole bone.

Next, remove the bone

Grasp the bone firmly and pull it out of the leg while cutting it free from underneath as you remove it. Once the bone is out, discard it and lay your leg of lamb flat on a chopping board with the skin side facing down.

Take your knife and make a clean incision into the thicker flesh on each side of the leg. Fold the meat outward like you’re opening a book.

Ensure your meat has an even thickness

Once you’ve folded your lamb out, you should have a relatively flat piece of meat with a uniform thickness. Remove any excess bits of sinew or fat that won’t melt away when the meat cooks.

Finally, make slashes into the lamb diagonally with your knife. This way, the surface area will increase meaning your meat will cook quicker, and soak up the flavour of your preferred rub or marinade. And you’re done – prepare as desired and cook.

Looking to barbecue your butterflied lamb? Here are the best grills to fire up this summer…

Further Reading