When it comes to cooking lamb versus sheep, there is room for debate. Both boast big differences in regard to taste and even bigger differences in regard to cooking techniques. That being said, they each have their wonderful and unique characteristics that are worth writing home about.
For those who may need a refresher on the difference between lamb and sheep, the former is a kind of sheep. Lamb meat comes from a sheep less than one year old, while sheep meat is from a mature, adult animal.
Let's dive into the key differences that separate the two kinds of meat.
Sheep meat is generally cheaper
Meat from sheep is often less expensive. In the words of Outdoor Happens, lamb is typically the preferable food, which is why it is more expensive than sheep meat. It is more “delicate” than its counterpart, which is why it is often included on the menu at high-end restaurants.
Lamb meat is often more expensive because it is not factory-farmed; typically, these younger animals are raised on a pasture. Family Farm Livestock adds that lamb meat also yields less meat per animal, contributing to its more expensive price tag.
Lamb is leaner
Because lamb is leaner, it tends to have a more mild taste. Sheep meat, however, is “more robust” in the words of America's Restaurant, due to its higher fat content.
The outlet adds that sheep tend to graze on larger spaces, while lamb feed in smaller farms, which could also contribute to their diet and, ultimately, their taste.
The word used to describe meat made from sheep meat that is mature is mutton. Lamb meat is simply the phrase given to the meat of a sheep that is less than one year old.
Sheep have a higher protein content
Another crucial difference is that sheep are higher in protein content. Sheep is also gamier and thicker, which is why it is often slow-cooked. Slow cooking methods namely include stewing, which allows the meat's thicker flavor to come through. Lamb, meanwhile, typically ordered as lamb chops, is often pan-seared.
Between the two, lamb is considered the meat better paired with wine.
No matter which way you cut it, both lamb and sheep can be made into wonderful meals– stews, curries, or meat straight from the grill. They pair well with strong flavors like fruits, dates, figs, and raisins, making them a great option for a family meal.
Because sheep and lamb are used interchangeably, the topic of which kind of meat to cook or eat can be confusing. But hopefully after reading the above, you are better prepared to step into a grocery store and differentiate between the two for your next meal or barbecue.
Lamb and sheep are both great for stews and grilling, and they pair perfectly with fruits, dates, figs, and raisins. Lamb is typically considered the better choice when pairing with wine. Here are a few other differences between lamb and sheep to help you decide which one to have for dinner.
- Lamb is a sheep that is less than one year old.
- Lamb is usually more expensive than sheep and can be found in high-end restaurants.
- Lamb is leaner and has a milder taste, while sheep has a gamier taste.
- Sheep has a higher fat content and has more protein.
- 1 1/2 pounds stewing lamb (be sure to look for the leanest possible cut) with all visible fat trimmed off, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
- 2 carrots, cut in 1- inch slices
- 2 medium onions, sliced
- 2 green peppers, sliced
- 2 large tomatoes, chopped (or canned tomatoes, drained, about 10 oz)
- 1 teaspoon seasoned salt (or to taste)
- Black pepper to taste
- Quickly broil lamb pieces on all sides under broiler. Place in saucepan with vegetables and seasonings.
- Cook, covered, over low heat one hour or until lamb is tender. If stew becomes dry, add a little tomato juice or bouillon while cooking.
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