Lamb neck is an inexpensive and often overlooked cut of lamb that can make amazing stews with rich broth and fall-off-the-bone meat. But, lamb neck might not be easily found in every supermarket. If you don’t live near a speciality butcher or halal grocery, it might be hard to find. Luckily, many other cuts will work as a good lamb neck substitute.
Lamb shank is a cut perfect for stewing. It has bones and connective tissue that will make a gelatinous and rich broth, and has all the same features as the neck, making it a perfect lamb neck substitute. The Lamb shank is usually a good value, and is pretty similar in terms of flavor as the neck. You should keep in mind that usually lamb shank is bigger than the neck, so only one shank will be enough for your stew most likely.
Lamb shoulder is another cut that will be perfect for stewing and braising. This Lamb cut has tons of flavor, sometimes even more than the shank, and will also provide fall-off-the-bone meat. This is a very forgiving cut, more so than lamb shank, and it will be juicy and tender even if you accidentally over cook it. Lamb shoulder is also usally fairly affordable.
Lamb “stew” cuts
Sometimes I have seen lamb cubed and sold as lamb stew mix at grocery stores. These cuts are good substitutes for lamb neck, however they do not usually have bone and as much fat as lamb necks. This means they will not give your stew the fat and gelatin to make it as rich as lamb necks will. If this is okay with you, then lamb stew cubes are a good choice.
Although oxtail is beef and not lamb, it has the bones and connective tissue that makes it perfect for stewing. Oxtails even look like mini lamb necks. The only reason why it may not be a good substitute is that oxtails will not have the distinct flavor that lamb does, so keep that in mind when substituting.