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.
Step one: Cut 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 large aitch 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.
Step two: Remove the bone
Grasp the aitch bone firmly and pull it out of the leg while cutting it free from underneath as you remove it. You may need to make further incisions to remove the shank and femur bones – be careful not to hack at the meat as this will make it tough later on.
Step three: Flatten the meat
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.
Step four: 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.