How To Butterfly Your Lamb

How To Butterfly Your Lamb

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It’s high summer, the perfect time for enjoying the sunshine, the company of family and friends, and seasonal lamb. Impress your guests with this guide to butterflied lamb. This technique allows marinades and seasonings to penetrate more fully. However, the greatest benefit to using this technique is in the cook time. Meat with bones cooks unevenly and requires a steadier, long-term cooking method. Such cuts, with bones intact, are perfect for heartier roasting, braising, or stewing techniques which are more in demand when the temperatures plunge in fall and winter.

Lamb, which is a wonderful summer meat, presents a delicate flavour and texture more suited to grilling or light dishes. While you can ask a butcher to do this for you, doing it yourself can often save time while adding to your skill set. Knowing how to dress meat is an impressive ability and one you can be justly proud of. Below, we’ll take you through the process step by step to the brilliant finish of a delicious recipe.

The Butterfly Process

First, rinse the meat thoroughly and pat it dry with clean paper towels or tea towels. Then, trim away any excess fat or membrane adhering to the leg.

Feeling for the triangular H-bone at the end of the leg, trim around it with a very sharp knife until it is nearly free. Next, pull the bone to release it from the ball joint. Cut it at the joint and set it aside for stock or discard it.

Then, at the opposite or foot end of the leg, cut along one side of the foot bone, freeing as much of the bone from the meat as you can. Once you reach the knee joint, which is about two thirds up the length of the foot bone, change direction and cut along one side of the thighbone to free it from the meat. Repeat this process on the other side of the leg and remove the bones. As before, you can reserve them for making stock or soup later or discard them.

Last, trim any bits of remaining cartilage left behind, and make a deep incision in the thicker portion of leg meat. Open it out flat, so you are left with a piece of meat with even thickness that will cook at the same rate.

Butterflied Lamb with Tomato Salad and Chermoula

Chermoula is a traditional North African marinade that is typically used to flavour fish and seafood during the cooking process. However, it is broadly used for its piquant flavours of citrus, garlic, and spices in both meat and vegetable dishes, as a table seasoning. Native to the cuisines of Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco, it may include saffron, onions, pickled lemons, and many other variations that speak to the cosmopolitan history of this region.


2kg butterflied leg of lamb
2 tbsp sumac
5 tbsp finely chopped coriander
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
3 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp chilli flakes
¼ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 punnets cherry tomatoes, halved
15 basil leaves
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 tbsp red vine vinegar
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil


First, preheat your oven to 200 degrees C. Then, brush the olive oil over the skin and meat, rubbing the sumac into the oil. Sprinkle lightly with a bit of salt.

Heat a large frying pan on high heat until extremely hot. Sear your lamb on both sides and transfer to the roasting pan. Bake it for 40-50 minutes.

While the lamb is roasting, prepare the chermoula. Place all herbs and spices (except basil) into the food processor and pulse it. As the ingredients are being chopped, slowly drizzle up to 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil in through the top aperture to form a thick paste.

Then, toss together the tomato halves with the basil leaves, vinegar and three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Season this with salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Allow the lamb to rest for ten minutes after removing it from the oven, covering it loosely with foil. Slice the lamb and serve it with the chermoula and tomato salad.

This is a perfect dish to serve at a summery dinner party in the midst of faerie lights and sparkling conversation. It’s equally suited to a Sunday luncheon with family and friends. Serve it with warm, lightly textured bread and a crisp white wine or lemonade. Your family and guests will enjoy every mouth-watering mouthful of this spin on traditional North African fare, both spicy and delicate. You can take a food tour this summer, beginning with the far off exotic cultures of the southern Mediterranean and working your way around the globe without ever leaving your neighbourhood.

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