Seeking inspiration: using a sheep's pluck and other unusual bits

I'm processing two rams next week, and want to be certain to use as much of the animal as possible. These lovely boys did a great job here on the farm, but due to poor genetics, it's time for them to go. I want to treat them with as much respect after death as they had in life, and part of that is not wasting any part that could possibly be used.

So I'm seeking inspiration on how to use some of the extra trimmings and less usual cuts of meat that come off a carcass. Perhaps your favourite lamb/mutton sausage recipes, fresh or cured? How do you, personally, like to cook the shanks and/or ribs? Then there's the neck, it's a pain in the... um, do I dare say it? Lots of meat there, but not easy to get it off the bones. I usually just boil off the meat and use it in stews and curries, but if those sausages are really as delicious as everyone says (starts with an M, from the Middle East or perhaps North Africa). If they are actually that good, maybe I should give it a try this year.

I'm also worried about the organ meat as it is the most difficult for me to work with. It tastes great when other people cook it, and I make a mean liver and onions, but I can never do justice to the rest of the innards.

So I'm thinking Haggis. Mmmmm, sweet Haggis.

That brings up other questions like how to wash the stomach (and guts for sausage casings), and why don't we eat sheeps lounge here in North America? It's a large part of a sheep's pluck and a vital ingredient in traditional haggis. Is there some sort of health reason not to eat it, or is it left out because it's difficult to clean?

Ps. I don't have any pork right now, so any sausage I make needs to be pure sheep, but I could put some meat aside in the freezer for when the pork fat comes at the end of the month.



Susan W. January 10, 2015
The day to harvest the boys had to have brought tears. The respect you show all animals is to be admired.

There is a Greek sausage that my Yia Yia made when I was a kid. I remember loving it. Or was it the Ouzo my Papou dripped in my hot chocolate that I lived. :)

My mom said she remembers 4-1 meat to fat ratio. Cumin, paprika, sugar, salt, allspice and oregano. For every 4 lbs meat, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar and 2 cup red wine. She said it's a country sausage, so the meat should not be ground too fine. For some reason, hog casings were used.

Weren't you going to try the yummy sounding African sausage?
trampledbygeese January 10, 2015
Thank you for the recipe. That looks delicious. Hog casings probably because they are easier to clean and use without them tearing. I'm looking forward to trying it.

I will be making the African sausage, however, when all is through and done, there should be about 200 pounds of animal here. Since there is only two of us in the house now, we don't do roasts nearly as often as we use to.

(later that day) Just finished the butchering (cutting up the meat). Four people, 6 hours, 2 rams, 160ish pounds of meat, plus organs and hide. Very thankful these are small sheep. I have a lot of spare ribs and no idea what to do with them. Going to have a search around the site and see what it says. Also bellies. Ram bacon is yummy, but maybe I can try something else.
Susan W. January 10, 2015
I have tried 4 different rib recipes from this site and liked them all. I really like the ones that are cooked quickly. I prefer my ribs to have a bite to them and not be fall off the bone. You can take a look at the rib recipes I have saved under my profile. I think the simple salt and pepper recipe was my favorite. Cara Nicoletti has a couple of rib recipes that are awesome as well.

I was in San Francisco last year and had the best pork belly. It was at a really good tapas restaurant. It was a pork belly sandwich. The roll it was on was delicious. The pork belly was sliced thin and very crispy on the edges. The sandwich also had arugula and a roasted garlic aoli. Sigh. I also saw a recipe on tv for pork belly that was boiled and then cooked in a wok. I'll see if I can find the recipe online.

Ram carnitas sounds good. There is a recipe on this site that sounds good. It was very simple. Salt, pepper and water for braising. I think I saved the recipe in my profile. People raved about it. I love a good carnitas taco.
Maedl January 9, 2015
A friend sent me a list of books that you might find interesting and helpful:
trampledbygeese January 8, 2015
Well, today was The Day. A very emotional morning of transitioning my rams from fluffy hell on hooves to food. This is not an easy thing for me. But I do want to say that I am grateful to this site and you all for helping me honour my boys.

I saved all the caul fat I could find. Never had caul fat before, but am looking forward to trying it.

I also separated the leaf fat from around the kidneys. Mmmm, biscuits.

Both these fats would have normally gone to the chickens, but thanks to these articles, I'm going to keep them for myself.

The stomach for haggas, I think is the rhuman. The inside has this horrible feeling to it, like thick vinyl gloves with thousands of little fingers on it. I'm not sure if the lining is the tripe or not, but it easily separates from a muscular membrane which I think may be what we stuff for haggis. It also stinks like rotten grass, surprise, surprise.

The Pluck (and yes, that's what it's called - trachea, heart and lights) came out in one piece just like it does in cookbook photos. Going to have a haggis party this weekend with some friends. Though I'm not entirely certain if they understood that they are making the haggas as well as eating it. If not, they are in for an interesting surprise.

Also got the merguez recipe from my friend. Sounds delicious.

I think if I had to say one thing that I learned, it is that the books available at my local library are greatly lacking in details and technique. Even the home butchery ones, don't address the innards much more than to quote Robbie Burns and tell you it's too much bother to clean your own sausage casing. I've learned more just chatting to people who grew up in Old World countries, who are adamant that all these skills I'm learning now are dead easy. They are also somewhere between amazed that someone my age and girliness would engage in these activities and that people over here have no idea how to do these things ourselves.

Don't know if this is interesting to you or not. Still looking for sausage inspiration if you know of any all sheep sausages that taste good.
arcane54 January 6, 2015
And you thought asking how to skin beans a weird question ;-) ... I admire you TBG for your intimate, grateful and thoughtful connection to your food.
Maedl January 6, 2015
I would try to find some books by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, from River Cottage in Devon, England. River Cottage offers butchering courses and I am sure he has written about how to use a whole sheep. He led the way on that movement.
Maedl January 6, 2015
I would try to find some books by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, from River Cottage in Devon, England. River Cottage offers butchering courses and I am sure he has written about how to use a whole sheep. He led the way on that movement.
trampledbygeese January 8, 2015
Thank you for the recommendation. Going to hunt for books by that author.
trampledbygeese January 5, 2015
Merguez, that's the stuff. No one in town makes it anymore so I've never tried it. If it's really that good, then I may just have to try it.

Hmmm, this haggis thing is more difficult than I thought. I wonder which of the four stomachs is used to make it.
Chef L. January 5, 2015
I'm sorry that I can only contribute a compliment that you are trying to show the "boys" some respect!
Susan W. January 5, 2015
I have nothing to offer except that as I read the question I knew it was you before I saw your name. Off to Google sheep's pluck.
aargersi January 5, 2015
Wow what a question! The only part of it that I know is that the sausage you refer to is merguez an it is delicious, and I buy it at the store!
I didn't know sheep had a lounge OR pluck! They go hang out at the lounge, have a few drinks to get their pluck up and then try their pick-up lines on eachother??
Susan W. January 5, 2015
trampledbygeese January 5, 2015
I have a feeling my spell check conspired against me again. Sorry about the dyslexia.

Then again, my sheep do have their own building for loafing around in. They are extremely spoiled.
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