Australia’s economy was said to be have been founded “on the sheep’s back” – a reference to the enormous importance of the wool industry between the 1850’s and 1950’s. A side benefit of the wool industry of course is a large amount of mutton, and it is not surprising that recipes for this meat are pre-eminent in the early cookery books and newspaper columns of the country. Our palates being more refined nowadays, or our palates being more tender, it is also no surprise that lamb remains Australia’s favourite meat.
The easy availability of mutton, and the boredom that this no doubt engendered, meant that many creative ways of using it were developed. Some of the ideas had the added value of compensating for a desirable ingredient that was perhaps not so easily available, as in the following recipes from The Central Queensland Herald (Rockhampton, Qld.) of 14 February 1935:
Mock venison: Remove the bones from a loin of mutton. Stew the bones and 1 onion, salt and pepper to taste, add also ¼ teaspoon ground cloves or a few bruised whole cloves. Stew bones for 2 hours. Strain [into?] with a large saucepan. Add a little finely chopped sage (which has been stuffed with savoury filling) into the saucepan, simmer until tender. About ¾ of an hour before serving, lift out of the saucepan and place in a hot meat dish in the oven to brown. Potatoes may be browned with it. The liquid in which it was boiled may be skimmed and thickened for gravy. Send mock venison to table with red currant jelly, brown gravy, and baked potatoes.
Mock tripe and onions: Take 2 mutton flaps, cut into small even squares. Stew for 1½ hours in very little water. Skim off all fat, add 2 large onions (cut into neat squares), 2 cups of milk, a little pepper. Boil gently for 2 hours. Thicken with a tablespoon of cornflour and a small teaspoon salt, blended with milk. When ready to take up, add 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley and a little butter. Serve with fingers of crisp toast.
Mock roast goose: Bone a shoulder of mutton. Make a seasoning with 2 cups breadcrumbs, a small garlic bulb, three leaves of sage cut very finely, a tablespoon of finely chopped parsley, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon cayenne (small), 1tablespoon butter. Stuff the shoulder, roll and tie. Bake in a casserole, browning just before serving. Serve with apple sauce.