Is it Too Soon to Talk About Meat?

Here is what I recently submitted to Edible Boston for their spring lamb recipe contest.  Little do they know, but we pretty much just eat mutton!

Although Sheep and Pickle farm has not been in operation for very long, we’ve been cooking lamb creatively since we first home-slaughtered two Icelandic sheep a few years ago.  It didn’t take long before we branched out from shepherd’s pie to simple curries to more adventurous curries and finally to the recipe I offer now.  While your contest asks that recipes feature lamb,  this recipe is just as good if not better when prepared with mutton, the much-maligned meat that almost no one as actually tried!  We choose younger sheep (under 5 years old) and those from mild-flavored breeds (Icelandics and Border Leicesters are great!).  The meat just has more flavor packed into it.  This recipe also works well with more awkward cuts, like shoulder, breast and stew meat.  My supertaster spouse Jaska Bradeen came up with this based on what we thought barbecue should taste like. Enjoy!

Barbecued Pulled Mutton or Lamb
serves 4-6

Rich with the flavors of maple, pepper and smoky Lapsang Souchon tea, this special spice mixture blows bottled sauces out of the water.  This is a long, slow cooking dish, perfect for putting in after breakfast and before a day of gardening.  Enjoy it for supper with fresh sweet rolls, cornbread, or baked potatoes.  Your family will fight over the leftovers.

1 6-8 lb shoulder of lamb or good mutton.  Leg also works.

Spices:
3 TB Smoked paprika

2 TB Chili powder
1 TB ginger powder
1 tsp Oriental or Coleman’s mustard
1 TB black pepper (not a typo)
1 tsp lemon pepper
2 tsp Lapsang Souchon tea, ground  (this smoky, rich, roasty tea is available at gourmet stores and food co-ops)
1/2 tsp ground sage
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 c lemon juice
1/2 c water
-or-
1 c red wine
1/3 C Maple syrup or 1/3 C brown sugar or 1/2C sorghum molasses
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Preheat oven to 220 degrees.Combine spices, rub on meat.

Place meat in a large dutch oven or covered casserole dish.  Add lemon juice/water mix or wine to the bottom of the pan.  Cover and place in oven for 8-12 hours.  No need to poke it, fuss or worry about it.  When the meat is fully tender, remove from the oven.  Carefully remove the meat from the bones, pulling the meat apart into strings.  Discard the bones and any large fatty pieces.  Taste the liquid and add additional salt to your taste.  The liquid should be strongly flavored.  If it is not, reduce it on the stove apart from the meat until it loses 1/4 to 1/2 of its volume.  Once the liquid is a consistency you like, add the sweetener you prefer.  Vary the amount of sweetener according to your taste as well.  We like it sweet!