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spare parts = stew meat?

Liz P

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I debated about whether or not to put this in another section, but I wanted to get an answer from people who actually raise sheep.


I did not have time to head to a local farm to buy lamb to make stew. Instead, I bought it at the grocery store (which at least does make an effort to buy local). I got 2 lbs of what was labeled "bone in lamb stew pieces." I foolishly assumed it was from the shoulder, which is where my stew meat usually comes from. While preparing dinner I did not look closely at the meat aside from noticing that it was very fresh, contained just a bit of fat and was about half bone. Well, the stew turned out just lovely and quite tasty, but I noticed something after the meat had become tender enough to fall off the bone... I had quite the variety of bones in the mix. Included were a few sections of vertebra, some scapula, a short piece of a long bone (radius?). It looks like they just threw all the little extra bits in a package and called it stew meat. It tasted wonderful, but I keep thinking about what mystery meat parts may have ended up in the pot. I really do like to know what part of the animal my meal came from.


Does stew meat = spare bits of muscle and bone?

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Hi Liz,

I can't really answer your question--maybe only the butcher knows. I always ask for stew meat from the shoulder, so I presume that's what I get. I also always ask for the spare pieces and parts so I can give them to the dogs. The butcher I use is USDA inspected, which means they have to follow certain labeling rules. I'm guessing--can't say for sure because I've used up all the pieces and parts from the last sheep I had butchered--that they might indeed label such as stew meat since that would be the closest thing they'd have label-wise to call it?



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My guess would be that the long bone would have been from a rear shank, the vertebrae from the neck, and there's probably a foreshank in there as well. Obviously, the scapula is from the shoulder.


So basically, the answer to your question is: yes, Liz, stew meat can come from any part of the carcass. I've only used bone-in stew a time or two as I find it a hassle. There's one slaughterhouse I used to use in Groton where if you just tell them that you want stew meat, you get it bone-in. If you want boneless stew, you have to specify that, and pay extra for them to bone out the stew cuts. If that's where your dinner came from, it would have been cut from whatever was left over after making the primal cuts that went to fancy restaurants.

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I think Bill is right.


I use everything extra in my stew and I mean EVERYTHING! Except the brains which I use for tanning.


Bones make wonderful broth if simmered all day long and they are an excellent source of calcium.


Organ meat is very good from pasture raised sheep and also is good in homemade sausage.

Including lungs, spleen, heart EVERYTHING! And the casings are right there!

The liver is the best part. And tastes nothing like store bought liver.

The meat off the head is very tasty and tender.

And the tounge. Yum!

And some memebers of my family really like parts I won't mention.

Those guys will eat anything.

Its good not to waste. And all of the lamb can be used for something.

Save your fat for rendering which makes a fine, but soft soap.

The lamb can even give you thread for making slippers out of your hides.

sinew off the back straps.


I have a friend who is scottish who after long fanaggling got me to barter our stomachs for haggis. He does Burns night on island.

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