What is Mutton?
Mutton is the meat from mature sheep. It has a tougher texture when compared to lambs, which are meat from younger sheep. It is also said to have a more complex flavor since the meat comes from older sheep. The use of mutton in dishes is popular in the UK and in Middle Eastern countries. But in the US, one may not be able to find mutton meat quite easily. More people in the US prefer having the softer meat of lambs and so sheep are usually butchered young. Finding mutton is a rarity in most market places and butcher shops in the US.
Mutton meat is usually harvested from sheep that are about two years of age. Both male and female sheep may be butchered to get mutton meat. And since the meat comes from older sheep, cooking it also requires longer hours with extra care. If one desires to have a very tender mutton, a long and very slow simmering may be done to ensure that the meat will be cooked and tender enough.
Many people approve the idea of having muttons as sheep meat because this allows sheep to grow to two years or more. Sheep this age may also be used for their wool and milk while some are intended for breeding. Many argue that some sheep are butchered too early to get lamb meat. There has also been some controversy on the way young sheep are grown in farms. Some animal activists disapprove some techniques in raising young sheep with the only intention of butchering them very early to have a very tender lamb meat. Because of these issues, mutton meat is highly preferred by some people even though the meat is tougher and may take quite a lot longer to cook. Others also prefer the richer flavor of mutton over lamb meat.