It is very necessary that every one who undertakes to carve a haunch of venison should be aware of the responsibility of his duty. An ill-cut or inferior slice, an undue portion of fat, or a deficiency of gravy is an insult to an epicure. The joint must first have a deep incision across the knuckle, 1 to 2, to allow the gravy to flow; then long parallel thin slices along the line 3 to 4, with a portion of the fat, and, if required, of the rich kidney fat lying under the loin; the gravy also, which is, or ought to be, very strong, must be discreetly portioned out according to the number at table. The haunch of mutton must be carved in the same way.





This very handsome joint is commonly and easily carved in long thin slices from each side of the bone, with a little additional fat cut from the left side. Or, with a little more care, the newer mode may be followed of carving oblique slices from the centre, beginning at the bone near the tail, and cutting the slices through the joint, thus mingling the fat and lean. A saddle of lamb, a pretty dish in season, must be carved in the same way.




The best part of this joint is in the middle, between the knuckle and farther end, and the best way to carve it is to make a deep cut at 1, and continue to cut thin slices as far as 2, on each side of the first incision; but as more fat is usually required than lies with the slice, a small neat slice may be added from the broad end at 3. The cramp-bone may be extracted, if asked for, by cutting down at 4, and passing the knife under in a semicircle to 5. The delicate fine meat of the under side, which lies beneath the “Pope’s eye,” is sometimes demanded by epicures.




Make an incision at 1 down to the bone, which will then afford a deep gap, from which on each side you may help thin slices, adding a little fat from the outer edge marked 2. If the demands are more than can be supplied at the first opening, additional slices may be obtained by cutting down to the blade-bone, marked 3, on each side. Some of the party may prefer slices from the under side, the meat of which is juicy, though less fine in grain; these must be cut horizontally.



A loin of mutton is always brought to table with the joints of the bones divided; it is therefore merely necessary to begin at the narrow end, and cut off one chop at a time, with a small portion of the kidney if required, or of the rich kidney fat.



The joints of a neck of mutton are always divided before cooking in the same way as those of the loin, and the carving is simple. It is only necessary to begin at the long bones, where the best meat lies, the scrag, as it is usually called, being coarse and gristly, and frequently taken off before the joint is dressed for the table.



Lamb is generally carved in the same way as mutton, but rather more sparingly, as there is less meat on the joint; but when sent to table in the quarter, as it commonly is when young, it must be cut up after its own fashion as follows.



This consists of the shoulder, ribs, and brisket. The shoulder must first be raised from the rest by passing the knife under the knuckle in the direction of 1, 2, 3, leaving a good portion of meat adhering to the ribs. A slice of butter, seasoned with pepper and salt, is laid between them, and the juice of a lemon squeezed over the ribs. This must remain a minute, and the shoulder may then be removed to another dish, for the convenience of carving the rest. The ribs and brisket must then be divided in the line 3, 4, the ribs separated, and brisket cut into small divisions, giving each person the choice of a rib or piece of the brisket. The shoulder, if required, must be cut in the same way as a shoulder of mutton.





The principal joint of beef, the sirloin, must be carved outside or inside, according to the taste of the guests. The rich delicate meat under the bone, called the fillet, is carved in parallel slices across the joint and along the grain, contrary to the usual mode of cutting meat. The outer part is carved in long slices cut down to the bone in the direction 1, 2, beginning at the edge, the brown being the first slice. Many prefer to cut the slices across the joint, beginning in the middle; certainly easier for the carver, but destructive to the future appearance of the joint, nor is the meat so tender thus crossed. A portion of the under fat should be reserved for the upper slices.



Must be carved like the upper part of the sirloin. There is no fillet in this joint. It is usual to begin the slices at the thin end.



With a sharp thin-bladed knife shave off in a horizontal manner the first slice, leaving the round flat and smooth. The meat is disfigured if this smoothness is not preserved; it is therefore necessary that your knife be sharp and your hand steady. It must be served in very thin slices.




Is usually skewered and boiled with part of the rump, forming a sort of round, to be carved the same way as the round. The soft, marrow kind of fat is at the back of the bone, below 4, and must be supplied when required; the harder fat is at the edge of the meat, 3, and will accompany each slice.



In carving the rump, buttock, or other joints of beef, it is merely necessary to observe, that every slice should be as neatly as practicable cut across the grain. Even in the brisket, the slices must be across the bones, and not through.




The tongue may be sent to table either rolled or in length. If rolled, slices are cut as in a round of beef; if not rolled, it must be cut nearly in the middle, not quite through, and slices taken from each side, with a little of the fat which lies at the root, if liked.






The half-head is often sent to table; but when a whole head is served, it is only necessary to know the delicate parts and to distribute them impartially. Long slices of the gelatinous skin, cut down to the bone from 1 to 2, must be served. The throat sweetbread, as it is called, lies at the thick neck end; and slices, from 3 to 4, must be added to the gelatin. The eye is also a delicacy: this must be extracted with the point of the knife, and divided at discretion. The palate, situated under the head, must also be apportioned, and, if necessary, the jaw-bone should be removed, to obtain the lean meat below it.



Is usually divided into two portions—the chump end and the kidney end; the latter of which, the most delicate part, must be separated in bones which have been jointed before cooking. Part of the kidney, and of the rich fat which surrounds it, must be given to each. The chump end, after the tail is removed and divided, may be served in slices without bone, if preferred to the richer end.




The fillet of veal, corresponding to the round of beef, must be carved in the same way, in horizontal slices, with a sharp knife to preserve the smooth surface. The first, or brown slice, is preferred by some persons, and it should be divided as required. For the forcemeat, which is covered with the flap, you must cut deep into it between 1 and 2, and help to each a thin slice, with a little of the fat.



The breast is composed of the ribs and brisket, and these must first be separated by cutting through the line 1, 2. The taste of the guests must then be consulted; if the ribs be preferred, the bones are easily divided; if the brisket, which is thick, and contains the gristle, which many like, it must be in small transverse squares. The sweetbread is commonly served with a roast breast of veal, and a small portion of it must be given with every plate.




This part is always boiled or stewed, and the fat and tendons render it a dish much esteemed: some good slices may also be cut, and the marrowy fat which lies between two of the outer bones must be carefully portioned out.



Though the shoulder of veal may be carved in the same way as mutton, it is usual to turn it over, and cut moderately thick slices from the thick edge opposite to the bone, and parallel with it.

The neck, of which the best end only is usually roasted, and stuffed under the skin, must be divided in the same way as a neck of mutton.


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Commonly the joints of pork are carved in the same way as the similar joints of mutton, in slices across, cut very deep, as marked 1, 2.  In the leg, however, the close, firm flesh about the knuckle is more highly esteemed than in the same part of a leg of mutton, and must be dealt out impartially.

The hand is a delicate joint, and may be carved from the blade-bone as in mutton, or in thin, slices across, near the knuckle.



Is usually accompanied by apple sauce to correct the richness of the gravy. The fleshy part is first cut in long slices, and the spare bones are then easily divided.



The usual method of carving the ham is by cutting down directly to the bone three or four thin slices in the direction 1, 2; then by passing the knife along the bone, you completely detach them, and give a due portion of fat to each. If you wish to be more economical, you must begin at the knuckle and gradually work onward, leaving a better appearance than when cut in the middle. A more extravagant method is by scooping a hole in the middle, and cutting circular slices round, on the principle of keeping the meat moist and retaining the gravy.  This is obviously a wasteful plan.



Before it is sent to table, the head is removed and opened, and the body split in two, thus rendering it very easy to carve. First separate the shoulders, then the legs from the body. The triangular piece of the neck between the shoulders is reckoned the most delicate part, and the ribs the next best. The latter are easily divided according to the number of guests, being commonly little more than gristle; there are choice bits also in the shoulders and thighs; the ear also is reckoned a delicacy. The portion of stuffing and gravy must not be forgotten by the carver.




Original text by George Routledge, edited and revised by D. J. McAdam - this text © 2005.  Please note: all applicable material on this website is protected by law and may not be copied without express written permission. 


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