Herby Crown Roast Lamb
click picture for recipe
Lamb & Mutton
There is a quality & taste difference between lamb & mutton. Lamb meat comes from a young animal (generally understood to be less than 1 year old) whereas mutton comes from an older animal that is generally considered to be greater than 2 years old. In between there is a category called Hoggets (between 1-2 years). Lamb is more expensive than mutton because it is more tender as well as being lighter in colour (making it look more tempting). In contrast mutton is darker and tougher but has a stronger flavour. Hoggets are in-between. It is worth noting that the words mutton, sheepmeat & ewemeat are used interchangeably depending on the region.
Certain cuts of the meat are also more expensive. The loin and the leg have big muscles that can be used for steaks or chops. These are generally more expensive. Legs (e.g. steaks) are usually roasted and loins (e.g. chops) are usually grilled. The shoulder has smaller muscles with lots of connective tissue. Connective tissue has a higher denaturation point than muscle and so the shoulder requires a slower cook but is great in curries and braises.
Offal is keenly priced in comparison to meat. Offal refers to other edible parts of the lamb/sheep other than its meat. This includes its liver, sweetbread, pluck, tongue, kidney, heart etc. Lamb offal is a delicacy and is worth trying for an alternative eating experience! In the United Kingdom, liver is a favourite.
You can find many tasty lamb & mutton recipes at the Simply Lamb website (www.simplybeefandlamb.co.uk).
Lamb is a good source of protein & iron as well as other minerals & vitamins. In particular it is a good source of n-3 PUFA (PolyUnsaturated Fatty Acids) and CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid); both having positive effects on diet and human development. Therefore it is very good for the human body as part of a healthy balanced diet.
Here comes the science....
Lamb is a great tasting meat to consume but don’t just take our word for it! Here is an extract from an article by leading meat scientist Jeff Wood of Bristol University, United Kingdom.
“ Lamb, and sheepmeat generally, has much more consistent quality than beef or pork. The final pH level in lamb after slaughter is slightly higher than in beef and pork and this helps the retention of moisture in the muscle, improving juiciness and tenderness. Levels of internal muscle fat measured by standard procedures are also slightly higher in lamb, although the visual appearance of marbling is less. Lamb tenderises during the post-mortem period like beef and pork, but extremes of toughness are less likely. An exception is when very rapid chilling is used.
The flavour of lamb and mutton is more complex than in beef and pork. The fat contains some unusual fatty acids, which contribute to flavour; and skatole, which is responsible for boar taint in pork, is a positive contributor to lamb flavour.
Feeding has important effects on lamb flavour. The favoured taste of young Mediterranean lamb comes from grain-feeding, which produces high concentrations of Omega 6 fatty acids in meat. Grass-feeding raises levels of Omega 3 fatty acids and these contribute to the deeper flavour of grass-fed lamb”
All this means is that UK lamb is very rich in taste & flavour as a result of its dual benefits of providing tasty food for people whilst helping to maintain our grassy country landscapes!