Sometimes when we look at meat, we think it’s all the same right? This thought might come into play when you’re looking at a piece of lamb and a selection of mutton. Although both pieces of meat might come from a sheep, that doesn’t mean that they’re the same thing. There are a lot of factors that go into the meat, and we are going to talk about some.
What is lamb?
To start, let’s discuss lamb. A lamb is known as a sheep that is less than a year old and has less fat on it then a full-grown sheep. Depending on the age of the lamb, it means that the color of the meat can be a little different too. This color can go from a pale pink to a lighter red color. Depending on the lamb you see, you can also get a spring lamb. This is a lamb that is less than three months old and is known to be very tender but doesn’t offer a lot of flavors.
When you head to the meat counter at your grocery store, most of the meat comes from lambs because mutton isn’t overly popular in the United States.
What is mutton?
Which leads us to what the heck mutton is. As we know, mutton also comes from a sheep, but the sheep is older than a year senior. Usually, the sheep is three years old, and the meat will be a deep red color. People tend to like this meat because it has a high amount of fat inside of it. The flavor of mutton is a lot stronger than of lamb as well.
Mutton isn’t too popular in the United States, but you will find it a lot in the Middle East and Europe. Since the mutton has a strong and more acquired taste, it doesn’t tend to appeal to a lot of people who like to eat game meat.
How do we cook it?
There are three popular ways you can cook lamb. This includes grilling, braising, and roasting, like other meats you might consume. Lamb is really popular when it comes to chops or burgers and is great to throw on a grill.
When cooking mutton, you have to remember that it is a tougher piece of meat. Cooking mutton slow, like in a stew, will help give it a softer consistency and really help bring the flavor out of it.
Cuts of Lamb
Since lamb is more prevalent in the United States, there are common cuts that you can also find of the meat. The most popular cuts include shoulder roast, rack, loin chop, and leg. Similar to what you would find on your cuts of beef. These cuts can be expensive though but are simple to see in your local market.
Make sure to do your research when it comes to lamb too. What farmers are feeding them will have an impact on how they taste and how expensive they are to purchase. Domestic lambs are usually fed grain and have a delicate flavor and more fat. Imported lamb is a lot leaner when it comes to meat, and that’s because it is grass-fed. These lambs also will have a strong flavour.
There you have it; now you know the difference between lamb and mutton. When you go to your meat counter next, you can confidently tell your butcher exactly what you want, and you know what part of a sheep will be tastiest for you.