With a 20kg lamb carcass slung over his shoulder, Kurt Portas arrived at UCOL in Masterton on Tuesday to show how to make the most of every cut.
The Palliser Ridge station manager was there to demonstrate to the cookery students a cheaper way of feeding the family.
Ordinarily 20kg of prepared prime lamb can go for between $300 and $500, but a whole lamb carcass yet to be butchered costs less than $200.
Mr Portas learned how to butcher meat from his father while growing up in Hawke’s Bay, but said it was easy to pick up.
“When you’re hungry and a poor shepherd, you learn pretty fast.
“The key is to have sharp knives and to try and find the joints.”
It was as much a lesson in anatomy as it was in cooking as Mr Portas produced 10 different cuts of meat from half the lamb carcass in less than an hour.
The cuts included two lamb shanks, rack of lamb, shoulder blade roll and roast, back leg roast, rolled loin, long ribs, neck chops, French cutlets, and a fillet.
Palliser Ridge produces lamb which can be traced from pasture to plate and is bred, reared, processed and served in Wairarapa.
Mr Portas said there was no part of lamb he wouldn’t eat, except maybe the bone and fat, but even those parts get reused as dog tucker, or for extra flavour in bland mince mixes.
The secret to good meat was the fat-to-meat ratio, he said.
“It doesn’t matter what kind of sheep it is, fat is the flavour.”
His favourite pairings included lamb with mint, rosemary, or a Double Brown.
Chef lecturer Kiri Macdonald organised the demonstration to help teach her students about the variety of cuts produced from lamb, and to show them how affordable butchering your own meat can be.
“Everyone uses the same cuts of meat.
“The more we can educate chefs about using the whole carcass and other cuts, then we don’t have this problem of everything being so expensive.”
She said it was an easy skill for people to learn and good for students to experiment with different cuts.
“It’s like taking a drumstick off a chicken – just a bit bigger.”