Lamb shoulder

Other Names: Boneless cushion roast, boneless rolled shoulder, boneless shoulder roast, boule de macreuse (French, arm clod), centro de carneza de paleta (Spanish, arm clod), épaule (French), fesone di spalla (Italian, arm clod), middle neck (British), paleta redonda (Spanish), presliced (precarved) shoulder roast, Saratoga roll or roast, shoulder arm roast, shoulder blade roast, shoulder roast, spalla (Italian), square-cut shoulder, yoke.

General Description: Full of tasty though rather fatty meat, lamb shoulder is the most versatile lamb cut. Because it is rich and succulent, shoulder is the preferred cut for kabobs, stew, and grinding. A square-cut lamb shoulder (NAMP 207) is the largest retail lamb roast with plenty of meat and usually contains four or five ribs along with the shoulder blade and arm bone. The number of ribs in a lamb shoulder varies: As few as three and as many as seven ribs may be included. The same shoulder of lamb boned out and rolled makes an easy-to-carve roast. It is called a cushion roast (NAMP 208) if left square and tied where the bones were.

A Saratoga roll (or roast) is a boneless center roast cut from the very tender blade portion of the shoulder; it’s also known as lamb chuck eye. Though convenient, precarved shoulder roast can dry out in the oven and the meat may be unappetizing in color.

Lamb for kabobs (NAMP 295A) is cut into tender 1-inch cubes that are skewered for grilling, generally after being marinated. They may be cut from either the shoulder or the leg. Kabob meat from the leg is leaner, but that from the shoulder is more flavorful. Lamb stew meat (NAMP 295) is cut into 1-inch cubes from sections of the shoulder or leg that are too tough to grill or broil. When stewed slowly in liquid, they become tender with full-bodied flavor.

Part of Animal: The lamb shoulder lies between the rib section and the foreshanks.

Characteristics: Lamb shoulder is rather fatty and contains a fair number of bones: most of its muscles are tougher than midsection cuts like rib or loin.

How to Choose: There are many shoulder roasts sold at retail. For ease of carving, choose a boneless rolled roast; for moisture, quick cooking, and succulence, choose a bone-in roast. An arm or blade roast will be very tender. Look for a roast of the best size and shape for your needs with a well-formed, even shape (for ease of cooking), white fat, and red-streaked bones.

Amount to Buy: Allow 3/4 to 1 pound for bone-in roast; 1/2 to 3/4 pound for boneless roast. The largest retail lamb roast is the whole square-cut shoulder, which weighs 5 to 10 pounds.

Storage: Store lamb roasts up to 3 days refrigerated.


  1. Cut away excess fat and sprinkle with desired seasonings.
  2. Brown in a very hot (450°F) oven for 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Reduce heat to low (275°F) and slow-roast for 2 to 3 hours, or until tender.
  4. Cool and chill overnight. Remove the fat and reheat in a little liquid.

Flavor Affinities: Black pepper, cinnamon, cumin, curry, feta cheese, garlic, lemons, mint, oregano, red wine, rosemary, sage, thyme, turmeric, vermouth, white wine.

from Quirk Books: