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Lamb and Mutton

Favourite Lamb Things - Helen Connor
Understand Your Meat - Edmund Burton
Removing Odors from Lamb and Mutton - Gary Brown
Irish Stew
             Adam Quinan's Irish Stew
             Sara Waterson's Irish Stew
Lamb and Mint Sauce - Ray Martin
Clive Kaine Adds...
Growing Lamb and Mutton - Kevin McLough
Irish Sheep - Brian Tansey
"Mutton Hams" - Peter Mackay Asks...
Astrid Bear Offers an Explanation
Lancashire Hotpot
             Arthur Ransome's Winter Holiday - Adam Quinan
             Sara Waterson's Hotpot
Mutton for Curry - Nick Coleman
Pre-salted Mutton Stew - Brian Tansey
Mutton Stew and What Wine? - Paul B.
The Science of the Lambs by Jason Epstein - Jill Bennett

Favourite Lamb Things - Helen Connor
bbq lamb chops - divine
roast lamb - with *runny* mint sauce and dark brown gravy (mint jelly is an abomination, far too sweet)
bbq lamb roast-size bits with garlic and rosemary (heaven!)
giros/souvlaki/kebab - all kinds of ethnic roll-up things with cooked bits of lamb, spiced, with sauces and salads (rolled up in Lebanese bread).
As for actual recipes, that involve adding, mixing and thinking about stuff - nope, don't do a lot of that with lamb. Tastes just fine the way it is. Left-overs from a roast might get cut up and curried, but they usually go in sandwiches.
Our Christmas version: boned leg of lamb, use a sharp knife to make holes, push in lots of slivers of garlic with rosemary (leave the rosemary in the meat), slow barbecue until done.
Standard weekly roast: leg of lamb, roasting tin, potatoes and onions cooking with the lamb in the fat (or oil etc), gravy from the bits at the bottom, serve with mint sauce (not jelly).
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Serves 4-6
Fat and sediment from lamb roasting tin
1 tablespoon (15ml) cornflour
1/2 pint (300ml) stock or vegetable water
1. Pour off all but 1 tablespoonful of fat from the lamb roasting tin.
2. Add cornflour and mix with fat and sediment.
3. Stand tin over a low heat, gradually blending in stock or veg water.
4. Cook and stir until gravy comes to the boil and thickens
5. Lower the heat and simmer for 3 minutes.
6. Pour into a gravy boat or heat resistant pouring jug.
Mint Sauce
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Serves 4-6
4 tablespoons (60ml) fresh mint (finely chopped)
3 tablespoons (45ml) boiling water
1 tablespoon (15ml) caster sugar
1/4 teaspoon (1.25ml) salt
3 tablespoons (45ml) vinegar
1. Stir mint into boiling water, adding sugar and salt.
2. Set aside until cold
3. Add vinegar and mix well.
If you have a roast leg of mutton, it should be served with onion sauce and red currant jelly (not mint sauce).

Understand Your Meat - Edmund Burton
Here is an interesting point of view. The taste of mutton depends on whether the cook understands the meat. And you must cook it slowly, until it is content. Spoken like a true artist: The Star Online.
Raja I. Qamar is a Malaysian of Pakistani origin who manages a restaurant in Kuala Lumpur.
"The most important thing when cooking mutton is that you must understand your meat," he said.
Qamar is quick to admit that there are certain negative aspects of mutton as a meat - primarily its strong odour and its consistency which is tough unless cooked right.
"The marinade is very important - aromatic spices ground into a paste with chilies and coriander helps to alleviate the smell... but only if the period of marinating is long enough."
Many of the mutton dishes prepared by the restaurant's executive chef Narain is carefully prepared, the ingredients freshly ground everyday and then left to marinate for nearly 24 hours.
"The problem is that sometimes the meat is simply dipped into the sauce, then cooked.
There is no time for the sauces to seep into the meat - the result is that the meat smells so strong."
He also explained that the meat must be cooked on a slow simmer rather than a very hot fire for the meat to tenderise properly.
"No amount of tenderiser can soften the meat unless it is left to cook to its hearts content," he smiles.

Removing Odours from Lamb and Mutton - Gary Brown
One of the more interesting features of the TV cooking program "Iron Chef" is the ends to which Japanese chefs go to remove "strong odors" from almost everything they cook (or at least from the raw ingredients). Favourite techniques are a) soaking or even blanching in milk (recommended for lamb, as I recall, and perhaps then a fortiori mutton) and b) surface-searing with a blow-torch.

Irish Stew
Adam Quinan's Irish Stew
My Irish stew is very simple lamb, onions and potato in a clear stock. You could add other vegetables such as carrots or turnip etc. but the purist wouldn't.
The cut of lamb varies but most recipes recommend one like best end of neck or shoulder with some bone for added flavour. Place chunks of lamb and sliced onions in several layers alternating with sliced potato and then three quarters fill with a stock or water, you could use beef stock but I found some lamb stock cubes a while back in England and used those. I have not seen them in Toronto.

Sara Waterson's Irish Stew
The mutton is usually put in the dish in long pieces, as it comes off the bone, not in cubes. It's made with onion, potatoes, and usually either carrot, or some grain such as pearl barley, or both. Never tomatoes, which were unknown in Ireland until relatively modern times, and no beef stock - the lamb and veg provide their own. The grain, eg pearl barley, would thicken the broth somewhat. I sometimes add a few juniper berries for flavouring. There is a variation, Irish hotpot, which uses the same ingredients, but the potatoes are laid over the meat, veg and broth in thick overlapping slices as a kind of lid; the underside steams and the top browns. it's very good on a cold night. Boiled bacon is eaten everywhere in the British Isles, not just in Ireland. It's one of my favourites. The trick is to boil it at barely a simmer; I soak the bacon joint for an hour or two, then put the bacon with a piece of carrot, celery and onion in the broth with a bayleaf and some peppercorns, and simmer it VERY gently for a good while, an hour or two depending on size. You can add a dash of cider vinegar. It's great served in the traditional English way with plain boiled potatoes, and broad beans in a thick parsley sauce [ie bechamel/white sauce, with chopped parsley in it]. You can buy frozen baby broad beans here in big supermarkets. Boiled hot beetroot is good too with it, and carrots or peas of course. Sometimes I soak the bacon joint overnight in lots of water then roast it very gently fro a couple of hours instead, after studding the skin with cloves and rubbing it with a mixture of honey and marmalade. Delicious! - much richer than boiled bacon, and best served with spiced sweet and sour red cabbage.

Lamb and Mint Sauce - Ray Martin
Now I like a little sugar in my mint sauce. And the skin of the lamb should be pierced with a knife -point, and slivers of garlic inserted. add a few sprigs of Rosemary, and maybe a glass of red wine to the roasting-tin, and you have a superb Sunday roast. (Roast potatoes, parsnips and carrots would do the rest for me).

Clive Kaine Adds...
You are entirely in the right of it, Ray. And a little Dijon mustard smeared over the meat before roasting doesn't do any harm, either.

Growing Lamb and Mutton - Kevin McLough
Mutton has a coarse, yellowish fat quite unlike the juicy, delectable fat that goes with a lamb chop or rack of lamb. There is a great deal more gristle too.
I spent some of my high school years on the island of Anglesey of the coast of North Wales, a place with more sheep than people. There it was said that the best lamb and mutton came from sheep who grazed on land that was subject to fine salt spray or mist from the sea. When I came to Canada I found that the finest lamb comes from a small island in Gulf Islands off Vancouver called Saltspring Island. Maybe there is something to the salt in the diet folklore.

Irish Sheep - Brian Tansey
Sheep in Ireland were historically kept for their milk and wool and were used as food on the table only as old and tough mutton.
Today many of the old traditional recipes, e.g Irish Stew that would have used mutton are made with the more lamb.
Also from a Statistical Survey of the County of Clare, 1808:
"Mutton, whose fat is yellow, frequently occurs in this county, but is not peculiar to it, as I have observed it in every part of Ireland, and often in Dublin markets, where some squeamish people object to it; but, if fat, it is equally good as any mutton, perhaps better. The cause of this colour has not perhaps been satisfactorily ascertained; it cannot be the food, as has been often said, for the fat of all the sheep on the same pasture would receive the same tinge; if it is from disorder, as has been contended, it must be one, that is not hurtful, as they fatten well, and on opening them no sign of disorder appears, as in the rot; a butcher in Ennis informed me it was certainly in the breed. In Guernsey, I am informed, the fat of both cattle and sheep is of a yellow colour, and remarkably well flavoured."

"Mutton Hams" - Peter Mackay Asks...
I'm reading "The Mauritius Command" at the moment. Jack returns from his first brilliant attack and his supply of mutton hams is sadly depleted by his fellow captains. I wonder what they would be.

Astrid Bear Offers an Explanation
Two guesses as to "mutton hams". One, the leg of the sheep: ie, the portion that one would usually treat as ham if it were a pig. Two, the aforesaid portion, but smoked and salted so that it would keep longer: the ham of the sheep made into ham! You can get "fresh ham" at the grocery, this is the thick upper leg of the pig, unsmoked or brined, ready to roast.
At Whole Foods the other day, they had a nice lady from New Zealand giving away samples of NZ lamb. She explained that it's younger than American lamb generally is, and very tender and mild flavored it was, too. The veritable Spring Lamb.

Lancashire Hotpot
Arthur Ransome's Winter Holiday - Adam Quinan

I developed these two hotpot recipes based on the vague descriptions of two versions of the hotpot given in Chapter 6 "Snow" of Arthur Ransome's Winter Holiday. A true Lancashire hotpot, which is what I suspect the Lake Bottom hotpot should be, would probably not contain carrots but would contain other ingredients, traditionally lamb's kidneys or oysters.
However, I decided that I would make the two versions using similar ingredients. These were both served at the TARSCanada Arthur Ransome's Russian Winter Holiday and 120th Birthday Party on January 10th 2004 to a party of TARS members who were skating on Mel Lastman Square tarn in North York, Ontario and much appreciated in the -13 degC temperature.
Igloo Hot Pot (serves 8 Arctic explorers and one Eskimo) prepared by two ships' mates in an Igloo
In a good size pot, layer
One can corned beef (bully beef from South America, not North American corned beef), cubed
One onion, cut into slices
Eight medium potatoes, peeled and sliced
Three medium carrots, sliced in pennies
Add about one pint (2 cups) of melted snow
Add salt, pepper and/or bouillon cube to taste
Cover and simmer gently over wood fire in the igloo until the potatoes are soft (about 45 - 60 minutes)
You will find the corned beef disintegrates into something like a thick soup with minced beef. Serve in bowls or mugs, share forks to pick up the bigger pieces of potato.
Lake Bottom Hotpot (Should serve a skating party, but in the book feeds the fish)
Two lb of stewing lamb
Two onions, sliced thinly
Ten medium/large potatoes sliced thinly
Five medium/large carrots, sliced (or lamb's kidneys or oysters)
Brown lamb in oil or butter and set aside.
In a large pot, layer ingredients, potatoes, onions, carrots and meat in a oven proof pot.
Season each layer with a little black pepper, salt and mixed herbs Add about two pints (4 cups) of meat stock.
Cover and cook in a moderate oven 325oF oven for about 2 hours or until meat is tender. Remove cover for the last half hour to allow potatoes to brown on top.
Wrap up and take out on to a frozen tarn in a basket, leave the hotpot on the ice for a few minutes while you unpack the rest of the basket. Enjoy the smell left behind and the perfectly symmetrical round hole in the ice..
Luckily Mel Lastman Square tarn is not very deep, so the pot couldn't melt through the ice and disappear.

Sara Waterson's Hotpot
A true Lancashire hotpot would certainly contain carrots; and lamb or rather mutton, and onions, laid in layers. It would be finished with a "crust" of potatoes, sliced and laid in a layer over the top to seal in the juices. The whole then cooked in a sealed casserole, of which the top would be removed at the end of slow cooking to brown the potato layer. Very good too on a cold night.
Mutton, onion, carrot and potato, ie: what was to hand: and not much else. The Lancashire sheep farmers on their moors and hills were very poor and certainly would have had little access to oysters except on the coast. Oysters are traditionally used in beef stews or pies*, if with meat at all.
* eg in Ireland, cooked with Guinness.

Mutton for Curry - Nick Coleman
For the curry lovers: mutton makes a much better curry than lamb. I find lamb a little too insipid for this, whereas mutton provides a true 'meat' flavour, like the difference between, say, chicken and duck. I wouldn't go so far as to say mutton is more gamier than lamb, just more flavoursome.
As others have said, it is tougher, so it does need that long, slow cooking that rewards a curry so well. Like most curries, it's better the next day.

Pre-salted Mutton Stew - Brian Tansey
I remember a number of years ago we toured Normandy. We stayed for 2 or 3 nights in a small town (the name of which escapes me - near Mont St Michel).
It had one excellent restaurant and their speciality was a mutton stew.
Not just any old mutton though, but the meat produced from sheep that had eaten the salty sea Normandy grass for the 5/6/7 years of their happy lives. The meat was kinda seasoned internally.
And with a nice glass of the local red wine (maybe two at a push) - it was just delicious.

Mutton Stew and What Wine? - Paul B.
My mother was a great fan of mutton stew and the fat and gristle is the key to it. That and long slow cooking (typically four hours at 140-150C or so), so that the morsels of meat melt in the mouth. If you've ever tried a Daube of Beef then your onto a similar winner. It's amazing what can be done with these inexpensive cuts of meat.
I'm told that Chateau Mutton Rothschild makes a tolerable accompaniment.