A Guide to Sheep Meat Cuts

Sheep meat is a fairly healthy meat choice. It is a red meat, but offers more health benefits than its beef counterpart. Sheep is rich in high-quality protein and offers a wonderful inventory of vitamins and minerals per serving including vitamin B12, Iron, and Zinc! This delicious meat also offers more Omega-3’s and cancer-fighting CLAs than beef with a lot less saturated fat.


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Its amazing flavor adds a new dimension to old recipes plus invites creativity to produce your own recipes using this flavorful meat. Trying sheep meat for the first time can be a little confusing if you don’t know the cuts of meat and their different attributes. We have compiled a guide for you to help you when purchasing your sheep cuts. Traditionally, sheep meat is from an animal at about one year of age. Meat from an older sheep is called hogget. Mutton is from a more mature sheep.

Loin Cut

These mini steaks cut come from the side of the sheep. The lion chop is found on one side of the loin cut. On the other side of this cut is called the fillet. The loin chop is one of the most popular cuts available in the market. These cuts are lean and tender and packed with flavor. It is perfect for grilling and braai.

Chops and Rack

Chops, or cutlets, are from the ribs of the sheep and are highly delicious and the most expensive cut of the sheep that you can buy. These are individually cooked and are perfect for the grill or barbecue. A rack of lamb is when a number of the ribs are left together to be cooked and served. Usually, seven or eight ribs will be used.


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These are perfectly cooked with a little pink on the inside. Chops are easy to cook. Simply heat a pan on the grill over high heat. Place your chops in and sear for 2 minutes. Turn chops and cook for an additional 3 minutes or medium rare or 3 ½ minutes for medium.

Shoulder

This cut is very flavorful and delicious. There is a lot of muscle here and so it is hard to get it tender. This cut is the perfect choice for slow-roasting and stewing. This is a substantial cut of meat perfect for family feeding. A cooking tip: When cooking sheep shoulder, cook it on the bone side. This way when the shoulder is fully cooked it can be easily pulled apart with a fork. You can also get this cut deboned at your butcher.

Rump

This cut comes from the backside of the sheep. This is a lean, tender cut that is packed full of flavor. It is for pan frying then finishing up in the oven. It is perfectly cooked when pink inside. A cooking tip: Do not overcook as this cut will dry out.

Leg

This cut has a strong flavor and is great for roasting whole or deboned and barbecued. This is a lean cut so there is a danger of overcooking. If overcooked, it will come out dry. The leg is a substantial cut of sheep and will feed plenty. The typical weight is from five to nine pounds. When shopping for this cut of sheep, there are several options to choose from.

Leg of Lamb can be found in different forms from the short leg, sirloin end, shank end, or frenched. Once you have made your choice, you can ask your butcher to debone your lamb’s leg and butterfly fillet it so that it can be grilled flat. You can also choose to stuff, roll, tie and roast it.

Shank

This cut is located at the muscular bottom part of the leg. It is one of the cheaper cuts of sheep and will feed a lot. This cut can be tough and is best for slow-roasting or for stews. Since this cut is strongly flavored, it pairs nicely when served with a fruit chutney or lemon.

Neck

This is a cheaper cut of sheep. It is usually sold in thick slices with the bone in. sheep's neck typically has a lot of collagen which lends it a silky, buttery texture when stewed. This versatile cut can also be fried quickly like a steak until pink.

Sheep meat is one of the tastiest meats that you can buy today. It may not be as popular as other types but the benefits that it offers to your overall health is beyond belief! With this guide, you will be able to find the cut you want for the recipe that you want to try!