What better than a succulent joint of roast lamb to celebrate the Easter week-end! These hints and tips for doing just that come from an early sixties promotional pamphlet supplied with Womans Weekly magazine
Following the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture, sheep meat and milk were one of the earliest staple proteins consumed by mankind.
Use of the word sheep began in Middle English as a derivation of the Old English word sceap, and is both the singular and plural name for the animal. The word mutton is derived from the Old French word moton.
A group of sheep is commonly known as a flock or mob. Adult female sheep are referred to as ewes, while intact males are rams (or occasionally tups) Castrated males as wethers, and younger (six to eight weeks) as lambs.
The first sheep were landed in New Zealand by Captain Cook in 1773. By current estimates the sheep population is approximately 44 million consisting of some 36,000 flocks, with an average flock size of 1,400.
This represents 12 sheep for every person in the country. The thought of a suffragette style uprising doesn’t bear thinking about!
Be that as it may, the main breed farmed in New Zealand are Romney, an English breed. They are kept largely as dual purpose wool and meat animals.
The nations with the highest consumption of sheep meat are the Middle Eastern states, New Zealand, Australia, Greece, Uruguay, the United Kingdom and Ireland. It is also popular in France, Africa, the Caribbean, India, and parts of China.
In these countries, dishes comprising alternative cuts and offal may be popular or traditional.
Sheep testicles, called animelles or lamb fries, are considered a delicacy in many parts of the world.
(Though not this part of the world as far as I know!)
Perhaps the most unusual dish of sheep meat is the Scottish haggis, composed of various sheep innards cooked along with oatmeal, spices, whisky and chopped onions stuffed inside its own stomach.
Traditionally it is served on at a Burns Night Supper, on or around the 25th January, the poets birthday.
Though no longer considered a ‘cheap’ joint, a good quality lamb roast will stand alongside the better cuts of beef any day of the week.
In recent times a lot more emphasis has been placed on the individual cuts, chops, steaks etc. which I will be covering in a separate post fairly soon.