Kitchen Hand: When life gives you bones
And by 'life', I mean your butcher.
When I buy cut meat from my butcher - diced chuck steak, gravy beef, beef mince - I think it's fair to say that I don't expect any bones in it. So imagine my surprise when I opened up the bag of diced lamb shoulder from my butcher, only to find that he's diced everything (presumably with a band saw) with the bones in. The vertebras and everything! I can see where it happened: he was only selling the entire shoulder of lamb, and I had requested diced shoulder. When he said that he could do that for me, he just went out the back, took a band saw to it and gave it to me in a bag.
Now while there's absolutely nothing wrong with stewing meat on the bone (in fact, it can be tastier), I chose to buy diced meat because I wanted to make a stew that I could pack to work the next day and eat with ease. I'm not about to try and figure out how to politely and delicately pick meat off the bone and then try and neatly get rid of the bones. Most of the time, there's a scant half an hour for lunch and I don't have the time to eat an extremely involved one.
So what do you do when you want boneless meat but you've been given bone? Well, trying to bone out each piece is going to take you forever and there can be quite a lot of waste involved. You can just put the meat in the stew as is, but like I mentioned, it's not exactly ideal, especially if you're trying to pack lunch for the next day. Well, thank goodness this particular type of meat - lamb shoulder in my case - can take a lot of cooking, nay, it needs a lot of cooking.
Rather than stew the meat in the actual stew for 3-4 hours, I put the meat in the pot and covered it with hot stock. I had some ends of onions from the onions that I was chopping, and some ends of carrots that I wouldn't eat. So I plopped those in with a bay leaf or two, and simmered for about 2.5 hours. It also works if you have a slow cooker. Then I took the meat out and let it cool a little, and simply picked off all the meat off the bone. It all just fell off! I then started the stew, threw the cooked meat in, and finished it off for an hour or so.
Yes, it is a slightly more involved process, but what can you do? I'm not about complain to my butcher, and I don't want to waste the meat.
And the stock that you've simmered the meat in? Just pour it into the stew, and taste all that added flavour! No dramas, and easy packed lunches are here to stay.