It is almost always removed by all butchers from small cuts of lamb, such as chops. It is sometimes left on large cuts.
Opinions vary widely — and firmly — as to whether it should be left on the meat during cooking.
- Helps to hold the cuts of meat together while cooking;
- Some say it keeps juices in and stops the meat from drying out.
- Some people say it adds a strong lamb flavour, and so remove it before cooking; others say that they either don’t notice any taste difference with removed, or that they do but they like the taste;
- Some say it stops heat from penetrating the meat evenly;
- Others say it stops seasonings from getting through into the meat;
- Some feel that as it shrinks during cooking, it will pull and distort the shape of specialty cuts such as butterfield ones.
For what it’s worth, the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS) says “It should not be removed from roasts and legs because it helps these cuts retain their shape and juiciness during cooking.”
To remove, slip the blade of a knife under it, and lift and cut it away at the same time, then discard.