And so I find myself reflecting on lamb’s elder sibling: mutton. Long ago it seems to have fallen of the steep end of our dinner menus. From what I recall of my old school English literature, I think it used to be a pretty popular meaty staple. And why not?
A few years back I ordered what was labeled as an organic lamb for my freezer. This being my Christmas present to myself, It was actually a nearly-year-old lamb. It was the best lamb I’d ever had, and there was so much of it. It was also a cheaper rate per pound, because it was an older animal (older here being relative, of course. We’re still talking baby sheep here, of course).
And from this ‘older’ lamb it was a short brainwave’s distance to wonder: “wait a minute… what about the older sheep? Where is that meat at?”
It’s in Greektown, I tells ya. (Coincidentally, so is some very reasonably priced regular ol’ lamb– about 1/2 the price of megamart lamb, and 50% tastier to boot).
And so I ventured forth into the city’s East end, and so I found my mutton. A 5lb bag of cubed shoulder of mutton for a whopping $20 or so. And so there was braising. Oh! The braising! A delicious Mutton Vindaloo-like-object on which we all subsisted on for weeks.
OK. Not weeks. I froze most of my bounty and made my vindaloo with a single pound’s worth. But it still fed us for at least a couple of days, and did so with all the of lamb and then some for a fraction of the price. Who could argue with that?
Vinegar Braised Mutton
2 lbs cubed mutton shoulder
1 red onion
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 large can diced tomatoes
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp tumeric
1 dried red chili
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp cilantro (garnish)
Preheat over to 350F.
Heat dutch over over high heat on stove. Pat meat dry and drizzle with oil. Season with salt and sear in batches. Remove and set aside.
Reduce heat to medium-high and add tablespoon of oil if required. Add onion and saute until soft. Add garlic, spices and saute another minute or two. Deglaze with vinegar.
Return meat to pot. Add tomatoes and large pinch of salt and pepper. Cover and place in oven.
Bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until meat is tender and falling off the bone.
Transfer contents to serving dish and sprinkle with cilantro.
Suggested sides: Rice and a fork.