Mutton…tough as old boots? Not necessarily. Depends on a) who’s cooking it and b) who’s supplied it, read on.
Yesterday the Monkfish attended a ‘Mutton vs Lamb’ masterclass hosted by various lovely people including Sascha Grierson (the supplier – from Hugh Grierson’s organic farm) and Neil Forbes (the chef) brought together by Slow Foods Edinburgh in the cosy surroundings of Cafe St Honore.
To the uninitiated ‘mutton’ is a very under used product which, as I was to find out yesterday, is a crying shame as the flavours and texture and intensity of the meat is a delight for any chef to work with. To begin the masterclass Neil and Sascha talked us through the differences between lamb and mutton.
To begin, a few facts.FACT ONE – Lamb is a sheep that is typically under one year of age. There is very little fat on the animal and the meat can vary in colour. Mutton is meat from a sheep that is ideally 3 years old. The meat has an intense redness about it and contains a considerable amount of fat.
FACT TWO – Hogget – hogget?! What’s a hogget? A hogget is a sheep that’s not a lamb and is not classed as mutton, it’s a wee inbetweener aged about 2, and as it’s veering towards the older age bracket is ideal for casseroles and slow cooking.
FACT THREE – The fat content….don’t run for the hills, these lovely sheep contain GOOD FATS! Don’t be afraid of the FAT! It’s this fat (more prevalent in mutton) that provides the fuller flavour to the meat, the marbling allowing the meat to be extremely versatile.
As Neil got on with butchering the meat Sascha talked us through the concept of organic farming and how their farming techniques result in such wonderful produce. The sheep are fed on organic grass and clover resulting in products with exceptional flavour and Hugh and Sascha pride themselves on rearing healthy and content animals.
The butchering was made to look extremely easy by Neil who is quite proud of the fact he has passed on these skills to some very lucky chefs who have worked with him. From a business perspective it makes sense for him to buy full carcasses of meat from his suppliers as he can literally use ‘Nose to Tail’ when creating his menus at Cafe St Honore. It was a pleasure to watch chef at work with his knives.
Word of the day at the class was ‘provenance’, Neil Forbes is a great believer in ‘local’ and with so many like minded people in the class discussions ensued on how lucky Scotland is to have this huge larder of produce on its doorstep.
Following the butchering Neil rustled up a few dishes for the group to try before we retired for lunch. I tried lamb kidneys for the first time – you should all know I’m partial to a bit of offal (Fergus HenderAson my all time fave…) and it really was delicious.
So, discussions and butchery over with for the morning we retired to the restaurant for a delicious lunch of Hugh Grierson’s Organic Mutton Hot Pot and to follow, the Queen of Puddings, heaven.
For those of you interested in attending a similar event please go to the Slow Foods Edinburgh website where you can learn lots of things about eating local, supporting your local farmers, understanding the importance of artisan and organic, and read about different ways of shopping and eating.
You may also want to click here… Hugh Grierson’s Organic Farm, Perthshire.
EAT LOCAL 😉