"Sacrifice, if you please, three mutton cutlets for every one required. Tie them together, with the choicest and tenderest one in the middle. Grill them, turning them over often so that the juice of the two outer cutlets pervades the one between. When the outer ones are more than cooked, take all three off the fire with infinite precaution and serve only the middle one."
-King Louis XVIII of France (1755-1824)
Mutton is majestic meaty morsel. This is surely what the Mutton Renaissance Campaign had in mind with their logo of a vaguely recognizable distinctly proud animal standing within a windswept field, which incidentally reminds me of Heaven. Endorsed by Charles, Prince of Wales no less, surely the profile of this antiquated Dickensian food must be on the rise. Who knew that in the locals of my freezer, I would find such a thing?
I vaguely remember that afternoon a year to two ago when a small brown package arrived tidy and unassuming, along with another of its kind tethered, to a friend. Attention instead towards eggs, there was I believe a distant blur of the hand and then out of nowhere mumbled words sounding like, “pig’s liver and --mutton”. Unable to process the heft and meaning of either word or package, they unceremoniously made their way into the holding area of my freezer until a time when any of those things just might suit an occasion.
No closer in understanding or need of mysterious meats from yore, actually forgotten entirely but still in want of an organized freezer; the unearthing began. The inside door most closely akin to things that remain on the surface, a social veneer completely respectable offering bulk foods and inobtrusive choices. But past the freeze line a lively assortment of tidy mislabeled packages: undrunk portions of wine sloshed into chutney jars, tidbits and tufts of bread, bricks of stew-y things, unfortunate food projects, and the designated meat corner consisting of bacon ends, one individually wrapped hotdog, 2 sausages, oxtails and-- mutton.
Being a new year, it is time to take inventory of our lives; question the contents for freshness and purpose, extracting the undesirable for something more fitting. Old barmy sheep get out, hello refined lamb! While it is hard to pull the wool over my eyes, I’m still sold on this rebrand clever or not. Marketing minds hard at work it is true, but it is still a way to see our lives and the things in it with new eyes and feeling. Starting over is a break from the acquisition of days, a reboot and glad news for those of us unsure of how our freezers ever got so full.
Mutton Kofta approx 20 batons: Chief criticism seems to be that the meat is quite gamy (oily and such) and tough. Make sure that your mutton has been aged properly! Since chief populations still enjoying this venerable sheep do so with a flourish of spices and a quantity of sauce, I’ve combined a bunch of Indian recipes using a fry/steam technique. Of course lamb and other non-animal protein may be replaced.
1 lb. ground mutton
1 ½ tsp yogurt
1 tsp. grated ginger
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
¾ tsp. salt
½ tsp garam masala
1 ½ tsp. ketchup
1/3 tsp. cayenne pepper
3 Tblsp. Grapeseed oil
2 cardamom pods
1 stick cinnamon
½ C water
2 Tblsp. Yogurt
Directions: Mix first nine ingredients together until just mixed and shape into ovals 2 inches long and 1 inch thick. Heat medium sized skilled until hot and heat oil. Add cardamom pods and cinnamon and toss around for 10 seconds. Lower the heat and add meatballs, turning them occasionally until they achieve a golden brown coat. This takes about 15 minutes. Drain any oil. Mix the yogurt and water and pout into the skillet. Heat to boil and then reduce heat. Cook until most of the liquid is evaporated. Serve with basmati rice and some sort of mint/cilantro chutney. As for Dickens, Our Mutual Friend is a fine pairing with any mutton meal.