We tried a leg of mutton yesterday for Sunday lunch from John and Patsy Price over at Bryn Belted Galloway Beef and it was fantastic.
It was the first time we have cooked roast mutton and have been eager to try it. The flavour is more developed and stronger than lamb with a firmer texture, but definitely not tough at all. The fat also tasted wonderful.
Mutton is from a sheep over two years old, while Hogget (also very nice!) is from sheep between 1 and 2 years of age. Mutton is a beautiful dark red meat and is often cooked on a lower temperature for longer (thus suited to slow cookers).
Prince Charles has been an avid campaigner for mutton – see the Mutton Renaissance website. Also, check out Bob Kennard’s Much Ado About Mutton website (he has recently published a book by the same name). On both websites there are tips on choosing and cooking mutton as well as some historical facts about this much-underused meat. There is also a new campaign just launched called Make More of Mutton, so hopefully demand for mutton will increase.
I was interested to hear Helen Pickersgill from Weobley Ash Farm in Herefordshire talk about mutton on a recent episode of Countryfile (hat tip to Make More of Mutton for the link). Helen explained that research has shown mutton from a pasture-raised animal around 5-7 years old has an even better Omega 3:6 profile (around an ideal 1:1) than that of younger sheep (the profile increases favourably with age).
We prepared our joint by making small cuts in the skin and stuffing in garlic and fresh rosemary. We then seasoned it and placed the joint in a slightly oiled roasting dish with some small onions from the garden cut in half.
We gave the joint a 15 minute sizzle on around 220 degrees before lowering the temperature to around 180 and cooking for 25 minutes per pound, basting frequently. We then covered and rested it for 20 minutes while making a gravy with the juices and onions. We served it with swiss chard from the garden and roast squash.
I noticed that the roast mutton recipe on Much Ado About Mutton favours a much longer cooking time (150 degrees for 2-3 hours covered in foil). Although ours came out very succulent and not at all tough, we will try the slower method next for comparison.
We will definitely be cooking more of this lovely meat!