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Lamb neck fillet is a steak that is cut from the middle neck section of a lamb. A lamb is a sheep that is 12 months old or younger. The sheep might be between the ages of six months and 12 months. This method usually creates a fillet that is more tender and delicately flavored than mutton. Mutton, which is meat from a sheep that is older than 12 months, can sometimes produce a pungent and tougher fillet.
Butchers and food markets usually sell lamb neck fillet as one solid piece or cut into two sections. The meat can be used for many dishes, such as curries, stews and salads. One of the benefits is that this particular cut of lamb is relatively inexpensive. Cooking times can be rather long, however, and the fillet usually is best cooked slowly by stewing, roasting or braising.
Another delicious dish is created by cutting the neck fillet into thin slices and seasoning them, then grilling or frying the slices and mixing them into a salad. This method will cut down the cooking time considerably because the thin slices will need only a few minutes sizzling in the pan or on the grill. Lamb neck fillet also can be butterflied or sliced down the middle and opened out, like a butterfly, then stuffed with a filling of the cook's choice and tied off with short lengths of string. The fillet can then be placed in a preheated oven and slowly roasted.
For variety, and if time is a factor, the lamb neck fillet can be thinly sliced and dipped into freshly beaten eggs. Some crumbs of bread can be scattered on either side, and the slices can be fried in olive oil until a rich, brown crust envelops them. This method should have the fillets from preparation to plate within minutes.
Generally, it is the actual cut of the lamb that determines cooking time. With a more tender cut, the meat can be cooked over high heat for quicker cooking. The tougher the cut — lamb neck fillet included — a slower method of cooking usually is suggested.
When a consumer is purchasing lamb neck fillet, marbled streaking of the meat might be apparent. This is a good sign because marbling, or ribbons of fat, tend to enhance the natural flavors of the fillet. In general, lamb neck fillets are cheap, tasty and very adaptable cuts of meat. They are able to blend and enhance a variety of dishes and recipes.