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How to butterfly a leg of lamb

by Great British Chefs11 July 2016

How to butterfly a leg of lamb

Butterflying a leg of lamb is a great intermediate butchery skill to learn, and a butterflied leg has many practical and taste advantages over a regular leg of lamb. Butterflying a leg increases the surface area of the meat, meaning it can take on more flavour from marinades or spice rubs and can be stuffed with flavourings before being rolled and tied to seal. Not only will butterflying cut down the cooking time, but it will also make cooking this tender, tasty cut possible on a barbecue. Furthermore, a butterflied leg is easier to carve.

The point at which you begin the process will depend on whether the leg has had its aitch bone removed. If it has, then jump straight to 3. It is best to use a boning knife for this kind of heavy-duty butchery. Alternatively, a long paring knife or slim chef’s knife can be used.

Once you have mastered these knife skills take a look at our video to discover how to barbecue a leg of lamb.


Start by removing the aitch-bone. This is found at the top end on the leg of lamb
Make sure that you stay close to the bone to reduce any waste of meat. Once removed, set aside - the bone can be used for stock later on
Locate the thigh bone. Place the knife against one side of the bone and start to slice through the meat following the curvature of the bone. Don’t cut all the way through the meat, only to the depth of the bone
Working slowly, make your way along the leg of the lamb
Continue until you have exposed the whole bone on one side
Carefully work the tip of the knife around and along the underside of the bone, again making sure that you cut as little meat off as possible
Once complete, pull the bone out of the lamb, using the knife to trim away any attached meat, until the entire bone is released
To finish, check the leg of lamb for any leftover bone fragments and trim away along with any large white lumps of fat. With thicker parts of the lamb leg, you can butterfly in half again to ensure an even thickness.

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