Lamb Shoulders in Pot-Pourri

Epaules d’Agneau en Pot-Pourri

Preparation info

  • Servings:


    • Difficulty


Appears in

Simple French Food

By Richard Olney

Published 1974

  • About

The recipe may, of course, be halved; it is convenient to prepare two shoulders because of the way the tied-up melon forms fit so neatly into an oval cocotte, a bouquet garni wedged between them, thus solving once again the sempiternal braising problem of filling all possible space so that complete immersion may be achieved with a minimum quantity of liquid. For a single shoulder it is best to eliminate the cumbersome bouquet garni, substituting a loose bay leaf and a healthy pinch of crumbled herbs and replacing the cocotte with a heavy saucepan.

Boning is merely a highly simplified exercise in dissection; a superficial understanding of the structure at hand and a small, sharply pointed knife are the only prerequisites to a rapid execution (a boning knife is useful because the large handle may be firmly grasped while directing the small, pointed blade, but a sharp paring knife will serve perfectly well).

To Bone a Shoulder

Place the shoulder skin side down (cut side facing up) on the table. It contains three bones: the shoulder blade, a flat, triangular wing with a rudder-like protrusion on the under side; the marrow bone of the upper foreleg, a straight bone with knobs at either end (the dog’s bone of the comic strips); the lower foreleg (shank), a straight bone that thickens and curves slightly as it moves into the knuckle.

Move the joints back and forth several times to familiarize yourself with the structure. Feel with your fingertips the shoulder blade, the better to define its form. Make a straight incision, cutting to the bone, from the point of the shoulder blade at the first joint, moving outward to the extremity of the shoulder and describing approximately the triangle’s median. Fold the flesh back, to the right and to the left, from the bone, forcing with fingertips and scraping with the knife blade. When the upper surface and the borders of the shoulder blade are entirely exposed, feel your way, going slowly the first time, with the tip and the blade of the knife, alternating with fingertips, following the contours of the underside of the bone and trying not to cut through the skin at the point at which the rudder shape approaches the surface. Grasp the freed shoulder blade in one hand and the lower part of the shoulder in the other and crack the underside smartly against the edge of the table at the joint. The bone will not come completely free, but will be torn out of joint so that you may see clearly the points at which to sever tendons and cartilage with the knife tip and where to scrape free the extremities of flesh touching the joint.

Make an incision to the bone between the shoulder joint and the upper shank joint, free the flesh (the marrow bone is simple in form and the flesh offers little resistance except for the tendonous attachments at the joints) and crack the shank joint against the table edge as before; a protuberant extremity of the shank joint often breaks free at this point, but it may easily be cut free from the flesh after the marrow bone is removed. Separate the flesh from the shank bone in the same way, making a circular incision to the bone at its base, just above the hock, to free it completely. Turn the shoulder over and remove all excess fat.