to make (lamb) Cuttlets

Lamb dishes will always have a special place in my heart. From this stuffed shoulder I made last spring to these stuffed eggplants from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s Jerusalem that I’m preparing for a gathering next week, I’m always eager to try new lamb recipes. So when I saw this receipt for lamb “Cuttlets” in MS Codex 252, of course I was immediately intrigued.

The Recipe

lamb cutlets

to make Cuttlets
take a neck of mutton and cut it Rib from rib then beate them flatt
with a cleaver throwing one some salt and pepper, grate crust of
french bread be sure it tis not burnt for it will be bitter and throw it
one and broyle them, for your sauce take some grauey squese in some
Lemon mince one oynion and put in heat it over the fire and soe put it one
the cutletts

This recipe is relatively straightforward: season and cook your meat, make a delicious sauce, serve. Lamb is a perfectly fine substitute for mutton.

Lamb neck is a cheap and flavorful cut. Sold whole or cut into rounds, it’s perfect for stewing or braising. Despite my love of lamb, I wasn’t familiar with this specific cut when I purchased a frozen lamb neck from the Livengood Farm stall at my local farmers’ market intending to make these cutlets. As took the defrosted meat out of the refrigerator and looked at my recipe notes, I was immediately confronted with a home butchery challenge. How was I going to cut this neck into cutlets!? Thanks to aid and encouragement from my spouse Joseph and our handy, heavy-duty, serrated bread knife, I managed to separate two “cutlet” rounds from the neck. (I slow-cooked the rest of the neck whole in flavorful stock and it was delicious.) To keep this cutlet recipe quick and easy, make sure you ask your butcher to  cut you some nice bone-in rounds or boned neck fillets.

Our Recipe

Makes two cutlets. 1-2 cutlets per person would make a nice serving.

2 lamb neck fillets
2T bread crumbs (unseasoned)
1/2 onion
2T butter
2+ T flour
2T-1/4 c stock (I used homemade chicken stock. Feel free to use whatever you have around.)
2T lemon juice
2T parsley, chopped
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

Turn on your broiler.

Finely mince the onion and sauté in butter. Leave this cooking on a low heat as you prepare and broil the cutlets.

Coat the lamb cutlets with breadcrumbs and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Put them in an a roasting dish that you are also comfortable using on the stovetop and place under the broiler to cook. (I used a skillet.) Cook for 5 minutes and then turn the cutlets over and cook for another 3-5 minutes. 8-10 minutes total cooking time. Remove the cutlets from the pan.

Transfer the butter and onion mix into the lamb cutlet roasting pan or skillet. Add flour to the pan and stir to make a roux . Add stock to the pan little-by-little and stir to make a thinner gravy. Add the lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.

Plate the cutlets, pour the sauce on top, sprinkle with parsley. Consume immediately.

The Results

Flavorful lamb, crisp breading, zesty  gravy: this dish is a warm, rich, and comforting treat. Next time I might add sage to the sauce as it cooks. Serve alongside some baked squash, roasted brussels sprouts, or a simple salad.

3 thoughts on “to make (lamb) Cuttlets

  1. I’d like to offer an alternate interpretation of this recipe. The term “rib to rib” could also mean to bone the neck. A mutton neck consists of seven vertebrae, each with a dorsal process that looks similar to a rib. If a cut is made down each side of these bones, the neck can be boned out as a single, trapezoidal-shaped piece. Once boned, the meat can be flattened much easier with a cleaver.

    In the 16th century, there was a cooking tool called a broule-iron. The term “broyle” would indicate “to burn, to char with a fire”. In the 16th century, the meat was probably held over (and in) the flame with a device like a broyle-iron, or maybe even a couple of forks.

    Roux didn’t exist in the 16th century. The sauce probably started with onions heated in some leftover meat jus or broth, flavored with lemon in a spider. The meat would be finished in the same pan similar to modern table-side cooking. The bread crumbs attached to the meat would help to thicken the sauce.

    • Thank you for sharing this additional interpretation, Peter! I’d be curious to see how your version of the recipe would turn out.
      I did consider removing the meat from the bone in the way you suggest, but confronted with the defrosted neck the other method seemed more appropriate at the time. (Especially since I have no training in butchery.) I was also wishing I had a gas grill to cook these on. This is a challenge of urban apartment cooking. Although I don’t go into this in the final post, I wasn’t interpreting the “broyle” as a precise cooking instruction indicating a modern broiler. These would certainly have been cooked over the fire as you describe above. I simply used my broiler like I always do to cook steaks, chops, and other cuts that I’d throw on a grill if I had one.

      • 17th-century sheep were a much different animal than those we have today. I suspect that by the time the animal was done providing wool, its neck muscles would be at least twice s thick as those found on a modern lamb. Peeling the meat from a neck requires patience but it will produce a nice piece with lots of fat connective tissue. Viard, in the early 19th-century provided a recipe where the whole neck was first braised until it could be loosened from the vertebrae. The boneless meat was then rolled and roasted.

        Meat saws existed in the 17th century. Next time, rather than defrosting the neck and using a knife, saw it frozen into chops. Also, if you’re buying this piece from a butcher, they can saw it on their band saw to whatever thickness you want.

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