MUTTON had fallen out of favour but is now becoming increasingly more popular, with high-profile chefs such as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall singing its praises .

Mutton, like lamb, is the meat from a sheep. Most are slaughtered at around five months old which is what we call lamb, and at around one year old which is called Hogget (which is also superior to lamb).

Sheep slaughtered at around three years old is called Mutton, which in my opinion has a much superior taste to lamb, being even more ‘lamby’ and slightly gamey, more akin to beef than lamb and completely undeserving of its bad reputation.

Mutton lends itself to being served pink as well as slow-cooking and of course bacon-making. As well as superior flavour, an animal that lives for three years is healthy for the simple reason it must be well cared-for and nurtured in order to survive.

And as it has been treated well it will be less stressed, which equals better meat as adrenaline ruins the taste of meet. It will be more vitamin rich, mutton being particularly rich in iron and zinc, which is good for our immune systems.

And if we’re to eat animals then surely they deserve a happy life? Not a potentially miserable and stressful five months? They also develop a healthy layer of fat and thicker bellies which works fantastically well for making the mutton equivalent of streaky bacon.

This is sometimes known as ‘Macon’ or ‘Muttchetta’ which was historically made when pork was in short supply. Mutton can be hard to find in supermarkets, but a good local butcher is usually the best source. Alternatively many farmers sell their produce online, which is a good idea and also economical if you want to stock up and fill your freezer by buying the whole beast.

There are many excellent farms in Yorkshire producing some of the best meat in the world, which is due to our lush green pastures and a long history of lamb-breeding for meat and the wool trade . This has shaped our countryside, and we should support our Yorkshire farmers whenever possible!

Mutton bacon can be used in exactly the same way as regular bacon. Mutton Bacon BLT or carbonara perhaps? Added to stews and salads or just a straight up ‘Macon’ sandwich with your choice of brown sauce or ketchup.

It’s relatively easy to make and you won’t find it available in many shops so it’s worth making. It’s also a great talking point if you’re cooking for friends and a very worthy alternative to bacon for those who don’t eat pork.

As usual you’ll need some space in your fridge, a large, deep food safe tray or container, clean hands, good sea salt and a little patience. On the picture I’ve rolled mine with string, which isn’t necessary, but does look visually impressive when sliced. If you have access to a smoker then I recommend an eight-hour cold-smoke over oak shavings.

Mutton bacon


1 breast of mutton (boned)

500g sea salt

10g cracked black pepper

200g brown sugar

10g thyme (chopped)


1. Mix all the ingredients (except the mutton) together and split between two containers.

2. Using one container of the mixture, spread half of it onto the bottom of the tray. Lay the breast of mutton on top of the mixture and sprinkle the remaining mixture on top of the mutton.

3. Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for 24 hours.

4. Remove from the fridge and discard the liquid which the salt has drawn out of the mutton.

5. Rub the second container all over the meat, cover again with cling film and return to the fridge for another 24 hours.

6. Rinse the mutton under a cold tap to remove any remaining salt, then dry well.

7. Your ‘Macon’ is ready. Tuck in, or store in the fridge for up to one month.