Carving meat

Carving meat

By
From
Encyclopedia of Food and Cookery

The first requisite for good carving is a razor-sharp knife. For meat, it should have a rather long, narrow and slightly flexible blade. The essence of the art is to allow the knife to do the cutting – the carver guides the blade with a long, light, slightly sawing action, rather than driving it. Electric carving knives make the job easier for many people, although purists prefer their traditional tools.

It is easier to carve on a board than on a platter; the board should have a channel to catch the juices. You will also need a fork, and a hot plate for the carved meat.

Always allow the cooked joint to rest in a warm place for 15–30 minutes before carving (the larger the piece, the longer the time) so that the juices can settle back into the tissues.

Meat is usually carved across the grain, although some joints may be carved with the grain, parallel to the bone.

Boneless rolled joints (for example rib or other cuts of beef; loin or shoulder of lamb, mutton, veal or pork; breast of veal, rolled corned beef): Lay the piece on its side and carve downwards in slices – thinly for beef and veal, more thickly for lamb, mutton and pork.

Other boneless joints (for example topside (top round), fresh or corned silverside or rump of beef): Carve in slices across the grain, changing the direction of the knife and turning the joint as needed. Leg of lamb, mutton or pork: This may be carved in two ways. The most economical and easiest way is to carve slices parallel to the surface (with the grain), turning the joint over as needed. The method which gives the juiciest meat, with an edging of the brown outside on each slice, is to start carving in the middle, downwards to the bone. Take out a wedge-shaped piece first, then slices, also slightly wedge-shaped, from each side.

Finally, turn joint over and slice off remaining meat parallel to the surface.

Ingredients

Method

Note:

  • Before starting to carve roast leg of pork, remove the crackling and break into pieces. Serve a piece of crackling with each portion.

    Ham on the bone: Carve by either of the methods described for leg of lamb (above).

    Rack of lamb, crown roast of lamb or pork, rib of pork on the bone: Carve downwards into single or double cutlets, making sure beforehand that the butcher has chined the joint properly (chopped through the bone where you will be cutting).

    Rib of beef on the bone: Cut between meat and bone to separate them, then slice meat at right angles to bone.

    Sirloin of beef on the bone: First turn the joint over and carve out the undercut (the fillet) in thick slices. Turn upright again, cut between meat and bone to separate them and push bone down slightly. Slice meat thinly at right angles to the bone.

    Shoulder of lamb or mutton on the bone: First hold up the leg end of the joint with the fork, meaty side uppermost, and carve slices parallel to the surface. Next, put joint flat on dish, turn over and carve slices from either side of the shoulder blade.

    Saddle of lamb: There are two ways of carving a saddle. For either method, start by cutting off the skirt pieces that are tucked underneath. These are fatty and are not always served, but may be cut diagonally into small pieces if you want to serve them.

    You may now carve lengthways down either side of the central bone to give long flat strips of meat, or cut between bone and meat to separate them, then cut meat across into small thick slices. Lastly, turn the joint over and cut between bone and meat to remove the 2 fillets, then cut these across into small thick slices. Serve a piece from each part of the saddle for each portion.

    Suckling pig: Cut round the outline of shoulder and leg, pull outwards gently and cut off through joints. Carve meat in slices. Remove head and divide meat down centre of back. Cut pig across the middle to separate rib section. Cut through ribs, dividing into chops.

Note:

  • The pig will be easier to carve if the skin is removed first. Break the crisp parts (crackling) into pieces and serve some crackling with each portion.
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