Lamb vs. Mutton
They are both domestic sheep…but hardly interchangeable.
Sheep, it is believed, were brought to the Americas by Christopher Columbus in 1492 for wool as well as a food supply. When England cut off the wool supply to America, the sheep industry grew out of necessity, not for its meat but for its wool. Over time it became a profitable livestock.
So, what are the differences? They are the result of the age of the sheep. Lamb is a sheep less than one year old with little fat, tender meat, mild flavor, and color ranging from light pink to pale red. Lamb offers a wide variety of preparation choices ranging from grilling to braising to roasting.
Mutton is older than one year, ideally three years old, with lots of fat, tougher meat, gamey flavor, and an intense red color…it is best prepared as a stew slowly cooked. It is no wonder that Americans prefer lamb!
Enjoyed year round but particularly in the spring…so enjoy this simple and tasty dish!
Grilled or Roasted Butterflied Leg of Lamb
Easy to prepare, this leg of lamb is boned, butterflied, and grilled over a charcoal or gas grill or pan seared and roasted in a hot oven. Best served medium rare with an internal temperature of 140° or to your liking.
♦ Marinate a 5–6 lb leg of lamb that has been butterflied and pounded to even out the high spots…for at least 8 or up to 24 hours in a shallow baking dish.
♦ To make the marinade, whisk together 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil, fresh juice from ½ of a lemon, 2 large minced garlic cloves, 1 TBS each of dried thyme and oregano leaves, 1 tsp kosher salt, ¼ tsp ground cumin, and a pinch of cayenne pepper
Pour over and rub into lamb.
To Grill on a barbecue:
♦ Preheat grill and place on a very hot oiled rack until charred on both sides…about 10 minutes per side.
To Serve: Slice meat and serve on warm platter with lemon wedges and a sprinkling of fresh herbs and a side of peas sauteed in butter with shallots and mint or perhaps minted mashed potatoes (steep chopped mint in milk before adding) or grilled asparagus with lemon breadcrumbs.
♦ Let rest 5 minutes before slicing.
♦ Pan sear the meat in a little canola oil in a very hot ovenproof skillet until quite brown and crusty.
♦ Drain off all fat and finish in 450–475° oven for 15 minutes.
♦ Let rest.
♦ Slice meat and serve on warm platter with lemon wedges and a sprinkling of fresh herbs and a side of peas sauteed in butter with shallots and mint or perhaps minted mashed potatoes (steep chopped mint in milk before adding) or grilled asparagus with lemon breadcrumbs.
Grilled Asparagus♦ Toss asparagus with tough ends snapped off in a light coating of olive oil and grill on BBQ or roast in 400° oven till lightly charred, about 10 minutes. ♦ Sprinkle with lemon breadcrumbs: Heat 1 TBS olive oil in small skillet, add ½ cup of coarse breadcrumbs (dry bread out in 200° oven and grate or crush), zest of one lemon and juice of 1/2 lemon, 1 TBS chopped parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.
♦ Sautee until browned, about 2 minutes.
♦ Serve asparagus on a platter with a sprinkle of juice of ½ lemon and breadcrumbs.