Patrick Bosley, at Moonlite Bar-B-Q in Owensboro, KY

Meat: Kentucky is known for more than fried chicken- it’s also famous for barbecue mutton. Bosley serves up over 10,000 pounds of mutton every week.

Sauce: Barbecue sauces and dips should be used as a condiment, like ketchup, and served on the side so they don’t overpower meat’s flavor,” says Bosley.

Smoke: Hickory chips give Moonlite’s mutton its flavor

Insider Tip: “When cooking mutton, we like ewes (female sheep), because they have more fat and are less apt to dry out,” he says.

Secret Weapon: “My hands. To make sure my grill’s at the correct temperature, about 275F, I want to be able to put my hand about six to 10 inches above the grill and have it still feel hot,” says Bosley.

The Recipe: Moonlite’s Mutton

Mutton Dip:

Mix all ingredients. Bring to boil.


Moonlite cooks up 100-pound sheep in four pieces over a huge pit. You can try doing it yourself at home with a 5-pound mutton shoulder or leg (mutton is hard to find so you can also use a lamb shoulder, but watch closely because it will cook faster)

Coarse salt and finely ground black pepper

How to Make it:

Season the mutton with 2 tablespoons of equal parts salt and pepper

Heat your charcoal or gas grill to medium heat at about 250F and place hickory chips on the coals or, for a gas grill, place chips wrapped in foil on the diffuser.

Place the mutton on grill with fat side up and away from direct heat. There’s a lot of fat so stay close by to watch for flare-ups. (Bosely highly recommends a comfortable chair and good, cold beer).

Smoke covered until tender, about four to six hours. The internal temperature should be about 195F. Baste with mutton dip sauce about every hour (this helps tame the gaminess of the meat).

When done, let mutton sit for about 15 minutes, then pull or chop meat into pieces and serve with warm mutton dipping sauce.

Serves 8

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