BBQ Meats: What is Mutton?
In other parts of the country, most people haven’t even tried mutton. They think it’s tougher and gamier than lamb, so they’ve never been introduced to the glory that is barbecued mutton.
Here in Kentucky, of course, we know better.
Mutton is simply mature sheep, much the way veal is young cow and beef is mature cow. The idea that mutton is “old” sheep is one of the reasons it gets a bad rap, so let’s clear that up right now: there are definitely sheep that are far too old to be tasty, just as there are cows that are far too old to be tasty. Mutton is sheep that is just old enough to be really, really tasty. We call it “lamb” if it’s less than 12 months old, and “mutton” from 1 year to 5 years.
Here at Moonlite, we buy about 2-year-old female ‘ewes’ (sheep) that have just the right maturity to have a rich, meaty taste that’s more satisfying than lamb. There’s an old joke that veal is for people who can’t handle the taste of real beef; we’re of the same mind when it comes to lamb vs. mutton. Mutton is one of the best-tasting meats around, and there’s nothing like a good barbeque to bring it out.