Lamb, Hogget and Mutton: What is the Difference?
Sheep meat is a delicious and nutritious source of protein that can be enjoyed in many cuisines and dishes. However, not all sheep meat is the same. Depending on the age of the animal at the time of slaughter, sheep meat can be classified as lamb, hogget or mutton. These terms have different meanings in different countries, but they generally reflect the taste, texture and cooking method of the meat. In this article, we will explain the difference between lamb, hogget and mutton, and how to choose and cook them.
Lamb is the meat of a sheep that is less than one year old. Lamb is the most common and popular type of sheep meat, and it has a mild, delicate flavour and a tender texture. Lamb is also lean and low in fat, making it a healthy choice for many dishes. Lamb can be cooked quickly and easily by roasting, grilling, frying or baking. It goes well with fresh herbs, garlic, lemon and mint sauce. Some of the best cuts of lamb are leg, rack, loin and shoulder.
Lamb has three distinct age categories that affect its quality and availability:
– Milk-fed lamb: This is lamb from animals that are less than two months old and have not been weaned from their mother’s milk. Milk-fed lamb is very rare and expensive, and it has a sweet, indulgent, milky and rich flavour. It is mostly consumed in Mediterranean and Asian countries, where it is roasted whole or cut into small chops.
– Spring lamb: This is lamb from animals that are between three and five months old. Spring lamb is usually available from April to June, and it has a pale pink colour and a mild flavour. It is very tender and succulent, and it works well with delicate spring vegetables.
– Autumn lamb: This is lamb from animals that are between six and twelve months old. Autumn lamb is usually available from September to December, and it has a darker colour and a stronger flavour than spring lamb. It is still tender and juicy, but it can handle more robust spices and sauces.
Hogget is a term that is not very familiar to most people, but it is worth trying if you want something more flavourful than lamb. Hogget is the meat of a sheep that is between one and two years old. Hogget has a stronger and richer taste than lamb, but it is still tender and juicy. It also has more fat and marbling, which adds to its succulence and aroma. Hogget can be cooked like lamb, but it may need a longer time or lower temperature to avoid toughening. It pairs well with robust spices, red wine, rosemary and thyme. Some of the best cuts of hogget are leg, shoulder, neck and breast.
Hogget is more common in countries where sheep farming is traditional and extensive, such as Norway, New Zealand, South Africa, Scotland and Australia. In these countries, hogget is often associated with rare breed and organic farming practices that allow the animals to mature naturally on pasture. In other countries, such as Britain and the United States, hogget is rarely found in supermarkets or restaurants, where most sheep meat is marketed as lamb regardless of its age.
Mutton is the meat of a sheep that is over two years old. Mutton has a deep, gamey flavour and a dark red colour. It is also very tough and chewy, so it requires a long and slow cooking method to make it tender and moist. Mutton is best suited for stews, curries, pies and casseroles. It can handle strong spices, herbs and sauces that complement its intense taste. Some of the best cuts of mutton are shank, leg, shoulder and ribs.
Mutton was once a staple food in many cultures and regions, especially in Europe and Asia. However, mutton consumption has declined since the 20th century due to changes in consumer preferences, availability of cheaper meats and negative perceptions of mutton quality and safety. Mutton has recently undergone a bit of a renaissance in some countries where chefs and consumers are rediscovering its unique flavour and heritage value.
Lamb, hogget and mutton are all delicious types of sheep meat that offer different qualities
and experiences for the palate. Depending on your preference and occasion, you can choose
the one that suits you best. If you want a tender and mild lamb roast, Butchers Fridge has one of the most delicious lambs on offer.