Mutton tastes better than lamb
This is not just a shame, because there is hardly any meat that is healthier, more natural and tastier than that of the young sheep. First of all there is the rearing: free range with a lot of exercise, no or almost no additional feeding and no intake of any medication or hormones. In addition, the lamb is full of vitamin B12, sodium, iron, potassium, calcium and has plenty of protein. And to do away with an age-old prejudice: the cholesterol content of lamb is about as high (or as low) as that of beef.
Indeed, it is probably mainly prejudices that we have towards this high-quality meat. You can often hear: “It always tastes so rancid.” Completely unjustified!
So let's take a look at what a lamb is anyway, because that has a lot to do with its taste.
A lamb is not a sheep, a mutton is not necessarily male, and rams simply don't taste good. But one after anonther:
A young animal that is not older than one year is called a lamb.
Within this period, a distinction is made again between the milk lambs, which are around three and a maximum of six months old, and the fattening lambs, which are slaughtered after eight to twelve months at the latest.
A young sheep can live to be two years old.
A mutton refers to male and female animals that have not yet had any offspring or have been neutered and are no longer than two years old.
We only speak of a sheep if the animal is older than a year when it is slaughtered.
A buck is a sexually mature, male, uncastrated animal, the taste of which is really extremely intense and is considered to be barely palatable for our palates.
Basically, the younger the animal, the more tender and lighter the meat. The typical taste is then also the least - if at all - pronounced.
And this results in the old idea that lamb tastes too “intense”: In the past, young animals were simply not slaughtered with pleasure, but old or male animals were put into the pot. To cover up this taste, lamb is still traditionally served with mint sauce in many countries.
Good to know
When buying, you should expect approx. 180 grams of pure meat or 250–300 grams of grown pieces, i.e. pieces with bones and fat rims, per person. It does not work without sufficient maturation. At least five, better ten days and the lamb becomes an absolute delicacy.
Lamb steaks, fillets and chops should be fried or grilled very hot and very briefly. A roast lamb should be pink on the inside, which is achieved at a core temperature of approx. 67 degrees.
A quick overview of which cuts the lamb offers, what can be made of them and what the preparation should look like:
Also called a neck or a comb. The meat is streaked with fine, white fat and is very juicy.
Suitable for braising goulash or neck roast and for cooking soups and stews.
Comes in the form of a chest and nipple tip. The meat is streaky with fat and is juicy.
Suitable for cooking soups and stews, for braising goulash and stuffed lamb breast.
Also called bow or leaf. Lamb shoulders are tender, juicy pieces of meat.
Suitable for cooking stews, braising goulash, for rolled roasts, for roast Tyrolean lamb and for grilling meat skewers.
Also called rack of lamb or lamb salmon; the most tender lamb meat. It delivers both lamb chops and juicy roasts. In the trade as a piece, with or without the bone, as rack of lamb, saddle of lamb fillet and lamb fillet.
Ideally suited for quick frying, grilling or roasting in the oven. The lamb crown with its particularly long rib bones is a festive preparation form.
There are stalk cutlets from the front part of the back with the rib ends and loin cutlets (with adherent fillet) from the rear part. The meat of both types is very juicy and tender. The meat from the loosened chops is also called lamb chops.
The very small loin chops are usually only offered twice - as so-called butterfly chops. The cutlets are available individually. Ideal for quick frying and grilling.
The leg of lamb or drumstick is lean, tender and meaty. The best roast lamb.
Ideally suited for grilling steaks and meat skewers, for roasting and as a goulash.
The meat is very juicy, strong and robust in taste.
Ideal for roasting and braising. Lamb knuckle is also called lamb shank by cooks, "souris d’agneau" in French.
The thinning is the belly flap, a flat, streaky piece of meat.
Suitable for cooking ragouts, stews, soups, for braising goulash and roll roasts.
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