Mutton can be more tender and delicious than the finest lamb if you know how to treat it properly. Sound familiar? And a sheep only has to be two years old to be considered mutton. That’s not exactly old! Read through to learn more about easy mutton recipes you can cook at home.
We went in search of some great mutton recipes to inspire our Muttoneers. Our first stop was the Mutton Renaissance website, set up by the Prince of Wales in 2004, which campaigns to get this wonderful meat back on British plates.
We have lifted some of their content to inform our readers here:
What Is Mutton? Understanding The History
Sheep farming experts generally agree that mutton refers to meat from sheep that are over two years old (lamb meat is generally from animals that have been reared for five months). Traditionalists argue that mutton is always the meat from a wether (a wether is a castrated male sheep; it is thought that castration improves the taste of some meats).
A more contemporary view is that mutton comes from a breeding ewe that has reached the end of its productive life. According to William Kitchiner in The Housekeeper’s Oracle (1817), the finest mutton came from a five-year-old wether.
Guidelines drawn up by Mutton Renaissance aim to ensure that mutton is consistently of the quality expected by chefs and home-cooks. The standards specify that sheep must be over two years old, and that animals must have a forage-based diet (for example, grass, heather and root crops).
Sheep meeting the Mutton Renaissance standard should have a given amount of fat cover, and be matured (for example by hanging) for at least two weeks. Mutton producers must be able to provide full traceability records showing where an animal is reared, its breed and age at slaughter.
Although mutton can be available all year, the best meat is produced from October to March. This is because the sheep have access to nutritious summer and autumn grass and heather, and are able to put on fat before being slaughtered.
Towards the end of the mutton season, animals are fed on root crops and silage to ensure they reach the standards required by the Mutton Renaissance.
Hebridean, Herdwick, Romney, Shetland, Southdown and Welsh Mountain are just some breeds of sheep with an historical reputation for producing delicious mutton.
The Mutton Club is compiling a list of easy mutton recipes and you can find links to these on our Pinterest page. Let us know how they turn out.
In the meantime, why not try out this delicious and easy mutton recipe from Enola Wright.
- 900g mutton
- 3 tablespoons cooking oil
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 225g carrots – roughly chopped
- 2 onions – finely chopped
- 4 stalks of spring onion – finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons curry powder
- 1 small scotch bonnet pepper – finely chopped
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- ¼ teaspoon clove
- 2 cloves garlic – finely chopped
- 2 stock cubes – beef
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 2 tablespoons tomato puree
- 20g fresh ginger, grated
- 25g butter
- 250 ml hot water
- 250ml coconut milk
- 1 teaspoon salt (to taste)
Cut meat into small cube pieces. Heat the oil and sugar when sugar has melted add the mutton and fry until browned on all sides. Turn often and do not allow meat to harden. Stir in onions, garlic and spring onions. Add curry powder, scotch bonnet pepper, thyme bay leaf, paprika and clove. Add the water, coconut milk, tomato puree and crumble in stock cubes. Add butter, tomato puree and carrots. Add salt to taste. Cover and cook over a very low heat for about 2 ½ hours stirring regularly.
Serve with rice & peas. Enjoy!
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