So we tried a little experiment this week. We have a handful of 2-3 year old ewes who have never had lambs - for whatever reason, they seem to be infertile, which happens sometimes. On Monday, we had one of these ewes processed. Yesterday, I picked up the meat, and we barbecued loin chops for dinner last night.
First a word about mutton. In this country, any sheep over one year of age is considered mutton (in other countries, there's an intermediate class of meat - a "hogget" is an animal between one and two years of age). Mutton has a reputation for being strong flavored and greasy - some people don't like lamb because they've been served bad mutton.
We've tried our own mutton in the past - we make sausage and stew, and we've thoroughly enjoyed it. This time, however, we decided to have the meat processed exactly as we'd have lamb processed. Our box of meat included loin chops, racks, sirloin and shoulder roasts, kabobs, riblets, shanks and stew meat. When I got home last night, I put loin chops in a marinade of red wine, olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic. They marinated for about 3 hours, at which time I put them on the grill. I think we were all a bit nervous as we took our first bites.
We loved them! They were tender, wonderfully flavored and juicy. Because this was an older animal, the chops were larger than our normal lamb chops, which we enjoyed. We can't wait to try the other cuts! I'm certain that some mutton deserves its nasty reputation; however, our grass-fed mutton was fantastic. Stay tuned for further updates!