Of pigs, lambs and everything in between the head and shoulder

The shoulder begins at the sixth rib.

Wrong side, dood.

Indeed. Jet lag. I usually know the difference between a rib and a vertebra.

Here’s a guide to breaking down a lamb that shows the neck:

At least in American butchery, the shoulder primal is separated from the head at the Atlas joint, so the neck results from breaking down the shoulder primal. Allan Suddaby does an excellent job of distinguishing the coppa from the neck proper:


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Bavel’s lamb neck shawarma, which sparked this discussion:


I’m not squeamish for the most part, but I think certain body parts ought be left for the dogs.

Get your spinal tap fix at ep & lp, bestia, chi spacca, etc. It’s not a trend.


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I think it’s a trend in the sense that when I first had it at Incanto 10-12 years ago no one had heard of it and now it’s relatively common, as is the closely related phenomenon of restaurants getting whole animals, breaking them down, and using all the parts.

That list of restaurants is the very definition of trendiness. :sunglasses: Hip, cool “eat the whole animal” acolytes of Fergus.

It’s not a bad thing, but cmon now, one guy decides to be bold and put a strange animal part on the menu, and everyone else dutifully follows. Remember when pig ears were brave, and everyone had to praise them to prove their bone fides as a critic or foodie?

Mark Estee, who went to culinary school with Chris Cosentino, was doing that here in Reno in 2011 which blew my mind :slight_smile:

I don’t know that that ever happened, but I remember when in this country I’d seen pig ears only in Chinese restaurants and taquerias.

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And in my kitchen :smile:

In 2007, some friends and I ordered a “Quinto Quarto” special meal at Incanto. The main course was whole roasted lamb’s heads, which turned a lot of human heads when a platter of five came through the dining room.

Oh man, that dinner with Marco Pierre White a few months later. Oh, and the one with Fergus Henderson, a couple of years before that.

WOW! I BET it turned some heads :slight_smile: The pig’s head photo was ‘walked’ through the dining room and pieces got ‘dug’ out. IIRC it was a snout to tail type meal.

I’ve had lamb neck preparations a number of times over the years, but they’ve always been used in a braise or ragu. The preps I’ve had have all had the bones removed before serving.
I would liken lamb neck like that to braised short rib: it’s unctuous and rich and wonderful. But I guess if you get squicked out by spinal things you should avoid.

Pork neck, on the other hand, does not typically have portions of the vertebrae or spinal cord in it. Don’t miss out on one of the best cuts of the pig. I believe Robert is mistaken re: nomenclature of this cut in pork. I say, eat away with no fear.


That Allan Suddaby blog post has an erudite disquisition on pork neck / nape terminology in Italy, Austria, and the US, in which he notes peevishly that some chefs do call coppa “pork neck.”

Neck, backbone, and ribs removed from the shoulder primal:

Boned-out coppa / schopf at left:

That’s an interesting reading of the text . . .

I’m glad we had this discussion because I learned a whole lot more about lamb neck. But ultimately, I have to operate in the real world. And out there, when you see pork neck or coppa in a US restaurant or butcher shop, you’re getting a boneless cut that runs along the cervical vertebrae. I know this because this is a cut I order often and a cut that I cook very frequently. I’ve sourced this from a variety of places, too. Any other interpretation of pork neck is just railing against the tide. You know, I want people to use the phrase “begging the question” correctly. But that ship has sailed.

I only bring all this up because there are a number of people that just don’t like spine/vertebrae/CNS as food. They should probably avoid lamb neck but should have no problem with pork neck. It’s my favorite and my best of all the pork cuts in the land so I want people who haven’t tried it to give it a chance.


Except that restaurants also roast the actual neck bone, and call it pork neck (and as I mentioned, some restaurants call jowl “pork neck,” as well).

“Lamb neck” (which started this discussion, in one of the Bavel topics), on the other hand, is always the actual bony neck. I don’t believe there’s a lamb cut equivalent to coppa / schopf. If the same muscle exists, it’s too small to bone out.

Another interesting blog post on the difficulty of getting coppa in the US:

I guess lamb coppa is possible, it’s just very rare.



Welp! I certainly tried. May you sail on in blissful peace.

I’ll leave with something positive.


I certainly agree that it would be less confusing if the neck vertebrae were always called “pork neck bones” and “pork neck” always meant coppa / schopf, but that’s not the world I live in. When I’ve been served roasted pork neck at whole-animal places it has been the former. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the latter on a menu except as charcuterie.

When I see “pork neck” on menus, it’s at Thai, Chinese, Korean, and Japanese places, where it means jowl if it’s grilled or stir-fried, or neck bones if it’s soup.