"But Mutton! Thou most nourishing of Meat!
Whose single joint may constitute a treat,
When made a Pudding you excel the rest
As mush as that of other food is best."
“This homely, but capital English joint…”
Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management (1861) (p184),
"For dinner we had salmon and leg of mutton; the salmon from the Dee, the leg from the neighbouring Berwyn...As for the leg of mutton it is truly wonderful; nothing so good had I ever tasted in the shape of a leg of mutton. The leg of mutton of Wales beats the leg of mutton of any other country, and I had never tasted a Welsh leg of mutton before. Certainly I shall never forget the first Welsh leg of mutton which I tasted, rich but delicate, replete with juices derived from the aromatic herbs of the noble Berwyn, cooked to a turn, and weighing just four pounds."
Wild Wales (Hartley p141)
"Saddle of mutton from the Welsh hills, or Scotland, is a joint for an epicure. Let it be well hung, dust the entire joint with pepper and dry flour and strew it with powdered herbs..."
Food in England,
Dorothy Hartley (p140)
“Meat in mincemeat survived longest in the sheep-rearing district of Cumbria, where lamb or mutton was used in preference to beef. Recipes are quoted by the Women’s Institute (1937), Joan Poulson (1979), and Peter Brears (1991).”
Traditional Foods of Britain: a regional inventory (2004) p306,
"A select company of the Bath footmen presents their compliments to Mr Weller...a friendly soiree consisting of a boiled leg of mutton, with caper sauce, turnips and potatoes."
To dry a leg of mutton like a ham:
"Cut it like a Ham and take 2 oz salt-petre and rub the Mutton all over and let it lie a day and make a Pickle of Bay Salt and spring water and put the Mutton in and let it lie 8 days and take and hang it in a chimney for 3 weeks, and then boil it till it is tender.
The proper time to do this is in cold weather."
Eighteenth Century Recipe,
"The supper was an excellent one too...the tea service was extremely plain...but the bread and mutton chops, and the butter, and even the tea, were such as Mrs Powell's china was never privileged to bear."
Susan Warner's description of a Welsh farmhouse, about 1850,
Some commercial firms pushed an oil-bound, lead-basis red paint upon hill shepherds, to use in place of the old mutton fat and earth raddle. As a result the chamois leather and skiver workers were worried by curious stains which appeared in the sides of their sheepskins - invisible till the skins had been far processed towards leather, when it showed up as a stain within the texture of the skin. The explanation was that the bought 'paint' had worked up the wool and, unlike the reabsorbed mutton fat and sedimentary colour, the paint stain had penetrated the skin and left a deposit therein.
Food in England,
Dorothy Hartley (p150)
"Nowadays the hirsels upon the mountains keep the natural grouping and it is sometimes possible to buy the genuine lamb and elderly mutton, but the bringing down of the castrated rams to the lower pastures and finishing them off for meat is much more general...
Even under this rearrangement the mountain breeds never put on fat like the Lowland mutton, and the spicy thyme and herb fodder of the hills makes them much the best mutton obtainable."
Food in England,
Dorothy Hartley (p136)
MUCH ADO ABOUT MUTTON
A new book has been published telling for the first time the story of mutton.