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Mutton (SEA)?

Yes lamb is wonderful, but I'm looking for cheap, mature, tough, braise-able mutton. I scoured the I-district (Viet Wah, Hau Hau, blahbidy blah blah). Asians aren't big sheep eaters....? Tried a halal butcher: Continental Spice on Aurora, who politely steered me to 'lamb leg'.

Is this turning into another food odyssey? I found a wonderful side of goat for $2.99/lb in Chinatown, but no mutton?

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  1. I concurr that that american lamb is just too darn bland for many recipes. I did a 7 hour leg of lamb that turned out like pot roast. Now pot roast is darn tasty but its painful if you paid the price of a leg of lamb to only end up with pot roast.

    So if you find mutton, please share the source. My understanding is that americans generally don't like lamb flavor [my mother told of her father HATING the smell and not allowing it to be cooked in the house--unfathomable!]. I suspect your best bet is to check the local famer's markets for someone selling lamb and arrange to buy the whole beastie so the farmer allows it to grow a bit bigger. . . .hmmm, let me know if you try......

    In the interium, goat works admirably as a substitute. I did the same 7 hour recipe with goat leg and it was yummy. There is a goat meat seller who hits the U-District market and the one in Columbia City.

    2 Replies
    1. re: jenn

      Jenn, that is a _seriously_ good idea...I'll hit the U-district farmers' market this Saturday & ask about a whole beastie. Anyone interested in a communal purchase please chime in; it's sheep slaughtering time! Apologies to anyone with pet sheep....

      1. re: Lets_eat

        I am down for a section. I got a quarter of beef with a friend last fall and only just finished it. $3/pound. I was party to a half a sheep in a Auckland, NZ youth hostel getting barbecued and a sheep on a spit with it's belly wired shut full of wine, honey and garlic in NSW...it was fantastic until the Bunderberg and Coke took over, the fire went out and the dogs got ALL the leftovers. But now...mutton stew with ginger/cumin come November...that's a plan.

    2. Ummm...Not too helpful, but I did notice canned "corned mutton" at the little indian shop by my house yesterday....


        So following Jenn's great suggestion, I hit the U-District farmers' market this past Saturday. It was entertaining:

        * Sea Breeze Farms said: "We'll get back to you. Come next Saturday."
        * Olsen Farms said: "Eh, maybe. Call us in October."
        * The <name not noted> goat specialist said: "Ewww! You eat SHEEP!?"

        I spoke with another <name not noted> vendor who gave me a hot tip: Thundering Hooves in Walla Walla. Gave 'em a call...they have mutton! Here are the details:

        They have a small bunch of older sheep for - get this - "...our pet food business." Typical beastie weighs +/- 40 lbs and costs about $200. We can specify how we want it cut up. And they have buying clubs in Seattle where we can pick it up; he mentioned one in Phinney Ridge based on my location, but they freeze the meat before moving it.

        So...5 bucks a lb, is it worth it? I get 'lamb leg' from my local halal butcher for $3.49/lb frozen. Shouldn't mutton be cheaper?

        10 Replies
        1. re: Lets_eat

          but the halal meat isn't organically raised or pastured........ Halal just refers to the way in which the animal is butchered. As I understand it, Thundering Hooves is all pasture raised as opposed to pens and the like.

          Here is a website for Thundering Hooves.
          According to the website, a whole lamb is $7 a pound [half is $7.50]. So the mutton is definitely a better deal. 20 lbs of lamb is about 1 cubic foot of freezer space....hmmm, I think I better go home and juggle the frozen fruit to see what space is left.

          I like Sea Breeze---they have AWESOME bacon. I would be interested in finding out what they might charge for a mutton. And I know the goat person----the goat is very good.....

          You can still count me in but I need to go see how much space I have in the freezer....or can arrange in someone else's freezer, [like maybe the one in the office!!!].

          thanks so much for all your hard work!

          1. re: jenn

            If you think Sea Breeze bacon is awesome, try Skagit River Ranch!!

            1. re: not the bad Steve

              I've been disappointed with both Skagit River Ranch and Sea Breeze's bacon. In fact, almost all of the prepared products from Skagit River Ranch I've found subpar (their meat is great though). I've found that my homemade bacon far outshines both of theirs, and I'm using pork belly from Uwajimaya. I'd love to have access to a whole berkshire belly to see what I can do with it.

              1. re: vanillagorilla

                What specifically did you not like about SRR's bacon? After having it, I find myself literally unable to eat bacon from other sources.

                (If yours is markedly better, though, you'd find me a pretty loyal customer.)

                1. re: not the bad Steve

                  The porkiness of it is great, but there just wasn't enough smoke for my tastes. I also prefer a touch more sweetness to go with the salt, but don't like a lot of other spices mucking it up. Their bacon is good, but more like a panchetta to me.

                  My bacon only contains salt, maple sugar, sodium nitrite, and maple syrup. I then hot smoke it for about 4 hours over cherry wood. I wish I had a cold smoker so I could get even a little more flavor into it.

                  I don't think it would be legal for me to sell you any bacon, but when I break out the smoker again you are sure welcome to come by and taste it :). I'm not sure I'll have it out any more until spring though. A few weeks ago I made 5 pounds of bacon, 14 pounds of brisket, and 4 pounds of Tasso Ham. So I'm good for a while.

                  1. re: vanillagorilla

                    sounds good to me! but how will we know where to find you?!?!?!

                2. re: vanillagorilla

                  Myself, I'm curious about what you didn't like about Sea Breeze's bacon. Its plenty smoky and I can't say I've detected too many other flavors.

                  1. re: jenn

                    It's been a while since I've had it, so I don't really remember. Do you happen to know if it's nitrite free? I tend to not like cured meats without the nitrites.

                    1. re: vanillagorilla

                      This kind of thread hijack I can sink my teeth into!

                      If you're having a bacon party please count me in :^P I just wanted to mention that my go-to bacon is also plenty smoky, and I swear by it. It's a traditional hungarian bacon, made by hungarians, and available online vacuum-packed:


                      1. re: Lets_eat

                        well its hijack or collapse into weepiness over the loss of the mutton.....sniff, sniff, sniff......and i was all set to re-organize the freezer this weekend! WAHHHHHHHHHH........................................

          2. I buy lamb from Fero's in the Pike Place Market (it's down next to the CanCan). I'd bet that they can get you what you're looking for.

            1. Although they haven't had lamb in a while, you may want to ask Skagit River Ranch. Maybe they're raising some sheep. There's also a farmer who brings pastured meat once a month (either first or last Friday, can't remember) to the farmers market in the Grocery Outlet parking lot on MLK & Union on Fridays from 3-7. I believe they had lamb.

              Now if any of you sheep seekers could find someone who would sell me some raw sheep milk...


              1. SHEEP UPDATE!

                Okay so yes they're pasture-raised animals, but seriously the older animals they use for DOG FOOD, and I've been seeing other co-op buys for e.g. beef @ $2.50/lb ergo I hesitate.

                As for you chowhounders that chime in with recs i.e. Fero's, Skagit Valley Farms etc. it's nice that you have suggestions, but if you've never purchased the actual product from said farms, how valuable is the rec if all I get is a no when inquiring?

                As it stands, I'd still be willing to purchase an entire beastie via a group buy. So far we have debs, toab, and myself. I guess I could afford a 1/4 beast but my freezer space is limited as well; I'm hoping for a few more takers. Please chime in.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Lets_eat

                  whoops--- I'm not on your list though I do see that I said back on Sept16 that I wanted to be counted in.......anyrate, having purveyed the fridge, I think we can go with about a quarter, presuming its all cut-up and wrapped. Given that we are now four, that would mean 1/4 a person evenly divided, correct? As for the price you are hearing, given that a single leg of organic lamb at my local PCC will cost me nearly $30, spending about $50 on a 1/4 beast doesn't seem that bad to me. The only question I have is when they say "older" what do they mean? There's older as in a few months and there's older as in 2-3-4 years. Can they be more specific?

                  by the way, in a twist of something, there was a live lamb at the puyallup fair this past weekend that was marked as to cuts of meat. most interesting and helpful in visualizing our purchase.

                  In your original update, you said that Sea Breeze farm said they would get back to you on Saturday at the U-District---did they have any new thoughts?

                  1. re: jenn

                    Jenn -

                    Yeesh I am such a dork...I didn't mean Debs, I meant you, derf! So far it's you, me & toab. Your input is the clear voice of reason, so I'm in all the way.

                    I had to work this last Saturday, so didn't get a chance to hit the U-district market. I'll do that this coming Sat. Also let me call Thundering Hooves and get some particulars on the animal's age.

                    So just another shout out for at least one other person...we'd be able to specify how to cut up the poor critter, and pick it up at locations close to us. Just do it!

                    1. re: Lets_eat

                      Well, for the record, Sea Breeze did have mutton at the market last Saturday. Thought about buying the couple of mutton shanks they had -- I think they said $13/lb -- but I was already maxed out by the time I got there. They also had lamb shanks; the mutton were noticeably larger, meatier, and fattier.

                      There were also, I recall, various mutton chops, in addition to the usual lamb, and a few interesting cuts like lamb neck.

                      Incidentally, apparently they've now opened a combination butcher shop and restaurant on Vashon Island? Anybody been there?

                  2. re: Lets_eat

                    As to why we'd suggest a farm from which we hadn't specifically bought mutton: I recommended Skagit River Ranch because I appreciate the quality of their other meats and I know they raise animals well. That way you have a few other places to make a quick phone call.

                    Good luck with your quest! I can't get a huge load of meat until I get a spare freezer.


                  3. By the way, I came across a farmer via craigslist who is selling grass-fed mutton. His ad is posted here:

                    Alas for me, he doesn't have sheep milk, but he had some ideas.


                    1. Thanks Debs for the Craigslist rec, I called and here's what he told me:

                      The $50-$60 price is for a live, unbutchered +/- 130 lbs. animal. No transport is provided, it would have to be picked up in Bellingham. For $75 he knows a butcher that will process the animal, but again it can't be delivered. For this, the meat has to be picked up in Linden, somewhere near the Canadian border. Typical yield from above-mentioned 130 lb. animal would be about 40 lbs. of meat. So all things considered, this isn't that great of a deal, given the cost of gas.

                      I visited the U-District farmers' market last Saturday, alas they had no mutton this time when I got there. Must have been a one-time deal based on my previous week's query. I was given a name & number to inquire further about a whole sheep, which I did. I spoke with Jos who said: 'Yeah, probably, I'll have to see if we have any muttons [sic] left.' He took my name & number, and I'm waiting for him to call me back.

                      So once again just another shout out, if anyone wants to get in on a group buy, we need at least one more person, based on the interest expressed in this thread, and freezer constraints.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Lets_eat

                        the folks from seabreeze farms - who have been selling very limited amounts of mutton at the ballard and university farmers' markets in past weeks - tell me that these animals were given to them as overgrown pets and they do not routinely allow their lambs to graduate to mutton status. a phone call was promised if such an event occurs again (i am told it's not uncommon) so we are back to square one. no, i cannot handle a full hind- or forequarter but would be pleased to snatch up a few saddles or a shoulder should such become available.

                      2. Yesterday Jos from Sea Breeze called me back:

                        * Mutton is $10.50/lb hanging weight
                        * Butchering is free and specifiable
                        * Meat is picked up fresh, not frozen at farmers' market(s) of choice

                        He conveniently left out the part about these being displaced pets though. So that means they're not pasture-raised, and it's anyone's guess what trash they were fed, right?

                        I think this will be my last post on this thread.

                        1. Your best bet is to buy a whole animal from a farmer and cut it up yourself. there isnt any easy way around this. Many sheep farmers sell mutton at a good price, killed and skinned. the only equipment needed to specially butcher out a whole lamb/mutton/goat is a bone saw, which is pretty much a hacksaw. Its going to yield more meat then you'll probably want, considering the size of the animal. personally, what I have done (yes I have butchered whole animals on my kitchen table) is to eat the saddle/loin section within a week of butchering and freeze the braising cuts. If you're feeling extra frisky, Buy a grinding attatchment for your kitchenaid and grind some up.

                          Looking for a butcher that is willing to sell you pieces of mutton is going to be a lost cause in my personal opinion since there is such low demand for the product, there isnt a reason for them to use up their freezer space with the item.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Sasquatch350

                            Yep I think you're right. I am no stranger to butchering animals; I grew up on my father's farm slaughtering chickens, ducks, rabbits, pigs.

                            The big problem here is that I can't seem to drum up enough interest from other parties to share the meat. Unfortunately I don't have a giant freezer, and all I'd really need is at least 3 other people to share about 40 lbs of meat. Think about it...if enough of you dive in, you wouldn't have to buy 10 lbs of something you're not sure you would even like. If we could get 8 people to commit, this means only 5 lbs of meat apiece, so if you cook it up and decide 'blech', it's not a huge loss. I'd probably even be willing to purchase the remaining frozen meat from you.

                            I've essentially given up, but I'll put out one last call: anyone interested in a group buy of an animal, please step forward. Thundering Hooves will butcher the meat to our specifications @ $5.00/lb, and will deliver it frozen to a buying club near you.


                            1. re: Lets_eat

                              10 lbs is really just not that much meat. You can put me in for 10.......can some of it be a leg?

                              1. re: jenn

                                Absolutely, thanks Jenn. I just don't think we're going to get enough interest on this. Last ditch effort: anyone, if a few people show interest, you can get a small portion of the beast and toab, jenn & myself will take up the bulk of the purchase. Meaning I will. Just do it! Take the plunge.

                                1. re: Lets_eat

                                  i surely want to share in some degree but wonder if CHOWHOUND has the facility for off-board contacts...

                              2. re: Lets_eat

                                I was interested, but thought that the idea had died. I will be happy to purchase up to 10 lbs. I really don't have space for more than that.

                            2. I just recently bought some from Sea Breeze Farms, and it was exceptional. You might have to call them to get them to bring some to a local market for you though.

                              I recently blogged it actually on my blog. www.mattikaarts.com/blog

                              1. I raise grass fed heritage sheep between Seattle and Portland (Lewis Co.) and often
                                have yearlings to 18 mos adults available for meat. They are Navajo-Churro sheep,
                                on the SlowFood ark of taste. I seem to have folks only interested in lamb and would
                                love to find folks who want adults. How can I advertise to find you? I am not sure the
                                protocol to public posting of details. We sourced the Slow Food dinners with Churro in
                                Seattle years back. my website wwww.mtn-nichefarm.com