Mutton used to be a very popular choice for the dinner table, but as we became more accustomed to convenience foods, it fell out of favour because mutton needs a longer cooking time to tenderise it, and lamb took over in the popularity stakes. But mutton is not an ‘old piece’ of lamb, it’s a different product altogether – it’s a juicy, well-flavoured meat which is firm NOT tough.
But thankfully mutton has seen a resurgence in recent years, due to the Mutton Renaissance campaign. Many of you have rediscovered mutton and it’s made its way back into the recipe books.
Mutton is defined as meat from a sheep which is over two years old. We choose high quality West Country mutton which is aged 18 – 24 months, from the same suppliers we get our lamb from. By selecting mutton they way we do, we offer a meat which has an intense flavour and won’t need to be cooked for hours to tenderise. The contemporary view is mutton comes from a breeding ewe who has reached the end of its productive life, but unless you are selective this type of mutton can be very fatty or too lean and needs a lot of cooking to avoid it being tough to eat.
We suggest you buy mutton from a reputable butcher whenever you can.
Use the same cuts of meat with mutton as you would with lamb, but just don’t use the traditional cooking methods, such as roasting. Mutton lends itself well to pot roasting and braising to keep the meat tender. Diced mutton is fantastic in slow cooked curries and casseroles, because the intense flavour carries over the herbs, spices and other ingredients.
Mutton is available fresh at Jon Thorner’s butchers during autumn and winter months, but it is also available all year round in the freezer.
If you are looking for inspiration and tips visit http://www.muttonrenaissance.org.uk/ for more information.