Butchering meat is a primal and Romantic activity that cuts out the bullshit filter between living animal and table dressed dish that so many people employ to justify eating meat. This is a lamb shoulder from one of the animals I saw during a sheep shearing demonstration about a week ago at Stone Barns. The curved structure running from left to right is the spine of the lamb (the head would be on the upper right) and the top of the rib cage and shoulder of the front left leg are on the bottom of this cut.
From this shoulder it’s possible to make lamb chops by separating the cartilage sheath from the outside of the shoulder and cutting the individuals ribs (with muscle attached) apart.
Once you cut between the ribs and through all of the connective tissue the spine will still be intact (don’t try to cut it, you can’t). According to one of the animal farmers at the farm the best way to deal with this is to take a firm hold on both sides of the joint and give the spine a firm twist (like really firm) and it will pop off. It works. Then cut through the connective tissue in between the segments.
I grilled these with a honey-curry marinade, they came out beautifully even though the cooking time was a little uneven because the chops were so much thinner than the rest of the meat. Butchering an animal like this is rewarding and informative, especially since a sheep has such a similar anatomy to many other mammals, specifically us humans.