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-   -   Looking for Mutton Tips (http://www.bbq-brethren.com/forum/showthread.php?t=117580)

bwebb0017 10-04-2011 05:29 PM

Looking for Mutton Tips
 
Hi everyone. I'm new to this forum, so I hope this is in the right area.

I run a BBQ restaurant in western Kentucky. We're pretty new (opened July 1st of this year). We've been cooking BBQ in a non-commercial setting for decades, so we're pretty much on top of most of our menu.

However, mutton is an item that we've never done at home, and therefore have very little experience with. We've started serving it, and so far it's going very well. It's juicy, tender, and doesn't have that overwhelming musky or gamey taste that turns some people off of mutton.

My question is this: does anyone have any tips for getting a greater yield from mutton? The biggest challenge we face with mutton is making sure it's profitable, even though it's priced much higher than anything else on the menu. There's just SO much waste to it. We're only getting about 40% yield, and that's if everything goes perfectly with the cooking. We've found that wrapping it in foil helps some, but that also cuts down on the amount of smoke flavor that comes through in the final product. Anyone have any advice? I want to keep offering this great product to my guests, but not if I can't make any money at it.

Also, would anyone mind telling me what restaurants in their area are pricing mutton at per pound? We're selling it @ $12.99 per pound. And yes, it's still a struggle to keep it profitable. We're paying over $200 for a whole sheep.

Thanks!

chomper's bbq 10-04-2011 05:54 PM

I'd consider whether it can be profitable on your menu. The restaurant business is a tough cookie. If you have a restaurant depot in your area they may carry mutton at least they do here; maybe they could be more economical.

bwebb0017 10-04-2011 07:52 PM

It's a low-profit item, for certain, but from the studies we've done so far, it doesn't seem to be actually COSTING us money to serve it. I just want to increase the profit percentage on it. The only 2 ways to do that are to charge more for it (I don't think we could get away with that in our area, it's already viewed as expensive) and to get a better yield out of it.

Yield is controlled by moisture loss. Minimizing the amount of moisture the mutton loses during the cooking process is the only way I know to increase the yield. I'm hoping someone will have some more tips for me on how to do that, or on any other ways to increase yield that I haven't thought of yet.

Note: we have already tried wrapping it in foil and placing pans of water in our smoker. Got some positive results out of those two things, but I'm looking for more.

daverev 10-05-2011 04:58 AM

Thinking I saw your restaurant the other day when I was going to Trover. On the left when heading south on 41? I'm no pro like the rest of the guys are but I have great luck with deer hams when I place them in a foil pan 1/2 way through the cook and cover with foil. Foil alone seems to leak too much moisture out.

We'll stop by and give your Q a taste real soon.

Dave

SmokinAussie 10-05-2011 07:30 AM

The main issue is your buy price. $200.00 For a whole sheep (I'm presuming completely undressed... straight from the slaughterhouse), is excessive. I'd have thought you might be able to find farmers willing to sell to you and cut out the middle man. Failing that, a supplier that will give you a better price for a whole carcass that they do not have to cut down.

Another issue is the trimmings. If you are not doing this already, I'd recommend serving lamb burgers, and putting a premium price on those. It's also common in Australia to make lamb burgers with 50% beef mince for those that like a milder flavour. Certainly worth thinking about... that is if you serve burgers. Also, sausages are definately something to think about... as long as you can get a return from what you consider "waste" then that will relieve the issue of having to get such a high price from the choice cuts.

Finally... this totally depends on how you are preparing the larger cuts... It is common to "seal in the juices" with lamb by browning in a skillet or large dutch oven over a stove, even for large cuts like a whole unboned leg or shoulder. This prevents the lamb from drying out and you would get a little better yeild.

The issue you may face is that sealing the juices IN, will also seal the smoke OUT.. In my experience, lamb and mutton takes smoke pretty well, but that is not a commonly shared opinion. It might be worth trying this for some select cuts if you're not actually serving the lamb as a whole BBQ'd animal.

Finally, you can pad out the quantity of lamb you serve per dish by adding different styles of lamb dishes, like souvlaki etc, where the lamb is wrapped with salad and sauces in a flat bread. You can still charge a lot for that, have your clients well fed and full, and also have them remark on the new flavours that this style of dish can provide.

I hope it works out for you. I'm really encouraged that you're serving lamb / mutton in a BBQ restaurant.

Keep up the good work!

Cheers!

Bill

SmokinAussie 10-06-2011 06:13 AM

Bump...

Thought I had some good advice.

Meybe the original poster is long gone???

Well, tell me if I'm full of sh!t..

Cheers!

Bill

bwebb0017 10-06-2011 04:21 PM

I'm sorry, took me a few days to get back to the forums. You did have some good advice! I'll give the browning a shot on a small piece the next time we do some. And the "waste" I'm talking about is only bones and fat; every last ounce of meat is used. We pull it all and blend it together, and serve it the same way we do pulled pork.

As for the other lamb/mutton recipes, they sound interesting to me, but I don't think this is the correct target market for something like that. We live in a small rural town, and I'm afraid things that my customers can't pronounce (souvlak... I gotta admit, *I* don't even know that one lol) won't go over very well.

Sheep might be a lot more prevalent in your area than they are around here. We're one of the VERY few restaurants within a 50 mile radius to serve mutton, lamb, or anything sheep-related. That might explain the cost difference. I'd still like to hear from some people closer to the area what they're paying for mutton.

@daverev: Never expected someone so close by to see us on the forums! Thanks for responding. Stop in next time you're in town. Introduce yourself to either me or Dave. It's a father & son business, and one of us is almost always here.

Boshizzle 10-06-2011 04:39 PM

It may be worth a shot to reach out to some local farmers about the possibility of raising sheep for you.


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