Seasonal recipes using the ingredients we produce on the farm.
Devon Ruby Meatballs in a Rich Tomato Sauce
Devon Ruby minced beef in a big bowl. Add finely chopped onion, a tiny bit of salt, black pepper, mixed herbs or thyme or oregano as you prefer, an egg, and a generous gloop of tomato puree, plus a handful of flour. Mix it all up and pretend it’s playdough. Decide if you want little delicate meatballs or great big ones. Shake flour on a plate and your hands, pick up a meatball sized nugget and shape into a sphere and pat all round with flour. Continue til the whole lot is done. You can put them in a fridge to firm up if you’re not ready to cook them yet. For the tomato sauce I fry chopped onion in olive oil (preferably the oil from a jar of sundried tomatoes) until softened. I add a tin or two of chopped tomatoes (depending on how much sauce you want) or lots of chopped fresh tomatoes if there’s a garden glut, a few chopped sundried tomatoes, a generous gob of whatever homemade chutney is on the go (i.e. something fruity and vinegary like a plum chutney) or if not a small shot of wine vinegar/cider vinegar or blackberry vinegar, and a teaspoon or two of sugar. Simmer covered and then put in the oven for an hour to cook and mellow. Fry the meatballs on all sides til fairly well cooked. Put them in an oven proof dish and cover with the cooked sauce. Put them in the oven for 20-30 minutes and then serve with spaghetti and a fat dollop of thick Greek yogurt.
Ragu (or Bolognese) with Spaghetti (or as meat sauce for lasagne)
500g Devon Ruby minced beef
225g chicken livers
4 rashers streaky bacon
2 medium onions
garlic clove or two if garlic is your thing
tin of tomatoes
glass or three of red wine
seasoning and your choice of herbs (thyme or oregano for me)
I give quantities here as a guide, but it’s not really how I cook. I’m all about a lump of this, a heap of that, an overgenerous amount of meat etc, so play it by ear. Soften the chopped onion in olive oil with the garlic and bacon, then add the beef and brown it well, adding the chicken livers after a few minutes. Cook for 5 minutes then add the tomatoes and the puree, wine, seasoning and herbs. Cover and simmer and then put in the oven for 45 minutes at least. Lovely just with spaghetti and a salad, or you can make pancakes, fill with bolognese, roll up and put in an oven dish, cover with a cheesy sauce and bake for half an hour in the oven til bubbling
Devon Ruby brisket with herby or mustard dumplings
Put a splash of olive oil into an ovenproof pan and brown the brisket joint all over for a few minutes. Remove the brisket onto a plate. Add thick chopped onion, big chunks of carrot and some celery to the pan and brown these too. Sprinkle over a tablespoon or two of flour and stir vigorously. Pour in hot water from the kettle, still stirring, then put the joint back in (the water should come nearly to the top of the joint. Add black pepper, bay leaf, and bring it to the simmer, cover, then put it in the oven for 2.5 hours. Meanwhile make your dumplings. Put 8oz (200g) of self-raising flour into a bowl and add 4oz (100g) of suet. Put in a pinch of salt and a generous twisting of black pepper. Add either a mix of favourite herbs (I like thyme) or a generous teaspoon or two of grainy French mustard. Stir the mix together and add just enough cold water to make a soft but not too sticky dough. Flour your hands and roll the mix into 8 dumplings. These can be kept on a dish in the fridge til you’re ready for the next step. When the brisket has been in the oven for 2.5 hours remove the pan from the oven, take off the cover and pop in the dumplings around the beef. Keep the cover off and put the pan back in the oven for another 25 minutes or until the dumplings are cooked. Serve the meat in thick slices with the broth and vegetables and a dumpling or two plus a generous lashing of creamed horseradish.
Roast Devon Ruby beef
So simple, so wonderful. I mix English mustard powder with plain flour and rub it all over the joint. Whatever flour and mustard mix is left I put into my biggest roasting pan and sit the joint on top. I scatter parboiled veg around the roasting dish (spuds, carrots, parsnips, celeriac, turnips etc) and sprinkle sparingly with salt and a light oil (ground nut, rapeseed, sunflower). Into a hot oven it goes. Our Aga cannot be controlled so I take out and baste the veg from time to time and serve when it’s ready; you’ll know your own oven best. The critical thing is to take the beef out of the oven to rest on a hot plate in a warm place, covered, for at least 20 minutes before slicing and serving. We like our beef pink, so the juices should still be running pink when pricked deep. Remember that the cooking continues during the standing time, so don’t overdo it – you can always put it back in the oven. I serve with red cabbage, peas, all the roasted veg, and gravy made from the juices in the pan. There’ll be flour left in the bottom of the pan and lots of juices, so I stir these together over heat and add water slowly to deglaze the pan. You can use wine or beer too, just make sure you let it bubble away to cook off the alcohol or the taste will be a bit odd. I never sieve the result – bits of parsnip or crispy potato add verve to the gravy. If you have a fairly modest sized roasting pan, cook the beef and veg in separate dishes or you’ll steam rather than roast the beef. Oh, and horseradish for me please, and mustard for Andrew.
The perfect Devon Ruby sirloin steak
Take a frying pan, drop in a small swoosh of olive oil and let it heat up properly, then put in your steak. Cooking times, approximate as always, but as a guide for a 2cm thick sirloin steak:
Blue: about 1 min each side
Rare: about 1½ mins each side
Medium rare: about 2 mins each side
Medium: about 2 ½ mins each side
Well-done: about 4-5 minutes each side
You can use your fingers to check how well cooked your steak is: rare will feel soft, medium-rare will be slightly bouncy and well-done will be much firmer. What is critical for tenderness and juiciness is leaving it to rest. A cooked steak should rest at room temperature for at least five minutes – it will stay warm for anything up to 10 minutes.
Accompaniments? Chips or baked spuds, roasted tomatoes, mushrooms and fried onions, or mushrooms baked with blue cheese, or just as simple as it comes: the best bread/ciabatta roll you can find or make, the inside dipped in the steak cooking juices, topped with the sliced steak and a swirl of horseradish or some onion marmalade.
South Yeo Devon Ruby beef stew
I tend to make a massive vat of stew and then freeze it in double portions as our very own version of fast food – defrost, heat and serve with a mixed swede and potato mash and fresh green veg. Many, many variations on a theme here. Stewing or pasty steak cubed and rolled in seasoned flour, then browned in olive oil in a heavy bottomed ovenproof pan. Brown sliced onions or a heap of peeled whole shallots, chunked carrots, celery and if you have it, some Berkshire bacon mis-shapes cut into wee chunks (lardons to the foodies). Put the beef back in with the veg and add your own preferred seasoning. I like salt, pepper, fresh thyme, a very few juniper berries, and a generous teaspoon of ground cinnamon. Glug in a half bottle of red wine (or Guinness or beer) and bubble away. Top up with water and bring to a simmer. Put in a generous quantity of button mushrooms either now or an hour into the cooking. Cover and pop in the oven for as long as possible; three hours won’t hurt. This is even better reheated, so the freezing process does nothing but good.
Couldn’t be simpler to cook. Pretty much like doing brisket really; not surprising as the two items plus other meaty goodies are what makes up the classic Pot au Feu or a Bollito Misto. Anyway, I simply put the uncooked ox tongue into a pan and cover it with water. Add whole skinned onions, several whole scrubbed carrots, some celery, black pepper, bay leaf, and bring it to the simmer and put it in the oven for 3 hours to poach. When the tongue is tender, lift it out of the broth and remove the skin carefully by peeling it off and discarding (this was one of my favourite childhood cooking tasks). Slice the tongue into thickish slices and serve on mashed potato with the broth veg and if you fancy, some lightly cooked greens of whatever is in season. Roasted beetroot also make a lovely accompaniment. Pour on some broth and serve with a fat dollop of creamed horseradish. Years ago you could buy horseradish with beetroot from the Mrs Elswood range which is lovely with tongue, but I haven’t seen it in the shops for years. Bet you can find it in any good Jewish deli tho, or indeed make your own. I used to fight over the tip and the root of the tongue; they are still my favourite bits even though they taste exactly the same as the rest.
Crab apple jelly
If you’re lucky enough to have crab apples, or know a hedgerow tree that will yield you a few pounds, I can’t recommend this highly enough. A gorgeous jelly to serve with goose, pork or duck. So simple. Cut your crab apples in half, but don’t peel or core. Weigh them. Put them in a thick bottomed pan and add 1 pint of water for every 2 pounds of fruit. Simmer until the fruit is a pulp. Strain through a jelly bag and restrain yourself from pushing the fruit through as that makes a cloudy jelly and it’s best sparkling like diamonds or rubies (depending on whether your apples are green, yellow or have a pink tinge). Let it strain overnight. Discard the thick stuff in the jelly bag (put it on the compost heap), measure your liquid and add 1lb of sugar for every pint of liquid. Boil rapidly until set. Put in hot sterilised jars. Job done.
There’s not enough space on the page to give you the low down on sourdough from starter to finished delicious bread, so for the many of you who’ve asked we’ve pulled together a factsheet, complete with photos of all the stages. This stuff is the dog’s britches (or other post-watershed appendages).
Stuffed Goose Neck
I’m very conscious that just the name of this dish will turn a lot of people off, but stuffed chicken, duck or goose neck was a childhood highlight for me, and a necessary accompaniment to a posh roast bird dinner, so perfect for Christmas (even though this is fundamentally a Jewish dish). The critical ingredient is the tubular skin of the bird’s neck, impossible to get from any supermarket, but easy to get hold of if you slaughter your own birds as we do, or if you buy your birds long-legged (plucked but not dressed, with head and feet intact). When butchering the bird, pluck well down the neck to keep as long a neck as possible, remove the head, make your cut around the neck close to the body and then roll the skin off the neck keeping the skin as a tube. Basically it’s a dumpling, roasted in the bird’s neck skin – what’s not to like?
For the stuffing
4oz breadcrumbs or flour or mix of both
2oz suet or chicken/goose fat
2-4 teaspoons of fresh herbs to your taste (I like thyme and sage)
half a lemon, zest and juice
1 small onion chopped finely
thinly chopped liver from the bird whose neck you’re stuffing
salt & pepper
Mix all the ingredients together, adding a little water to moisten if necessary to hold the mix together. Sew up one end of the goose neck, fill with the stuffing and sew up the other end securely. Put in the oven in the roasting tin with the goose, about an hour before you are ready to take the bird out of the oven, basting occasionally. If there’s no room, put it in its own dish and bake in a moderate oven til crisp and brown. Serve in slices as an accompaniment to the roast goose.
Upsidedown Raspberry Cake
Forget Abigail’s Party and negative thoughts about tinned pineapple rings and strategically positioned maraschino cherries – this is a whole other bag of buns.
For the fruit layer:
50 grams unsalted butter
100 grams light brown sugar
500-650 grams fresh raspberries
100 grams granulated sugar
2 tsp cornflour
In a small saucepan, melt the butter and brown sugar until it gets bubbly. Take the pan off the heat and allow to cool. In a medium bowl, combine the fruits with the granulated sugar and cornflour.
For the cake layer:
250 grams self raising flour
½ tsp salt
100 grams unsalted butter
200 grams granulated sugar
½ tsp vanilla essence
4 duck eggs, whisked
splash of milk
Cream the butter and sugar, add the salt and a bit of flour and some of the egg mixture, and mix, adding more flour and egg until the eggs are incorporated. Add the vanilla essence and any remaining flour. Add a splash of milk to make the mix softer.
You’ll need a non-stick 9-inch springform cake tin, which you should butter first. Sit the whole thing on a baking tray or roasting pan to stop any volcanic mixture bubbling onto the oven floor. Pour the melted butter and brown sugar mixture into the cake tin. Fling the raspberry mixture on top. Pour the batter over the fruits. Bake for 1 hour or a bit more until a metal skewer comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 15 minutes, then put a serving plate over the top of the cake tin and flip it over with care as the fruits will be very hot. I think the recipe said let the cake cool completely, but that’s bonkers; eat it hot or warm with a slug of thick cream. The smell of hot raspberries will drive everyone in the neighbourhood wild, so it’s a good thing that it’s a whopping big cake (with close family ties to the much loved steamed jam sponge pudding) and will serve 12 greedy people easily.
Tomato and Chilli Relish
Back in 2007 we opened the first jar of tomato and chilli relish that I’d made the previous year from the polytunnel-grown glut of beefsteak tomatoes and chillis; that first small pot was snaffled before the week was out. It was utterly fantastic – sweet, warming, no vinegary sourness at all. Hunting around the cookery books for the recipe to mark it up for an annual remake, I remembered that it had been an on-line find posted on the Delia messageboard by a New Zealander with a great palate. We serve it alongside cottage or shepherd’s pie on our smallholding courses, and the whole pot is wiped clean.
6 lbs ripe tomatoes, skinned and chopped
4 oz salt
4 apples, peeled and chopped
8 large onions, chopped
3 lbs sugar
4 small tablespoons mustard powder
1 pint cider vinegar
5 small fresh red chillies
2 tablespoons cornflour and a little vinegar to mix it (to add near the end)
Mix the mustard powder with a little of the cold vinegar. Add to other ingredients in a large pot and boil for at least an hour. Thicken with 2 tablespoons of cornflour in a little vinegar and bottle in sterilised jars.
You’re slicing shallots and peeling apples, and call out casually to the person in the scullery “bring in a bottle of cider”. They oblige, take the top off and it fizzes everywhere. It’s elderflower champagne, it says so on the label…This is a recipe mistake but so scrummy that I’ll be making the same mistake in future. Definitely one for foragers this – every last morsel from the farm.
Enough shallots to completely cover the bottom of a heavy casserole
4 or so big dessert apples (they keep their shape and don’t fluff to nothing)
4 large trimmed Berkshire pork chops – but keep half the fat on
A beer bottle’s worth of elderflower champagne (or cider if you must)
salt and pepper (ok, this wasn’t from the farm)
Brown the sliced shallots in a slug of olive oil. Add the apple slices and stir about. Add the chops and brown for a few minutes. Pour over the fizz. Bring it up to bubbling point, stick a lid on it and bung it in the oven for at least an hour. If you’ve got an Aga or similar, after its hour in the hot oven stick it in the bottom oven for several more hours until you’re ready to munch – the pork will stay in one piece but slide right off the bone. Serve with whatever carb takes your fancy that will soak up the amazing juices.
Runner Bean Chutney
Is there such a thing as a year without a runner bean glut? I’ve never known one. I adore this chutney with almost any kind of hard Devon cheese (Devon Oke, Curworthy, etc), either in slabs or as cheese on toast. This quantity makes 8 x 500ml jars.
8 medium onions
500mls malt vinegar
2kg runner beans
2 heaped tablespoon English mustard powder
2 heaped tablespoon ground turmeric
500mls white wine vinegar
500g granulated sugar
4 heaped tablespoons wholegrain mustard
4 teaspoons flaked sea salt
Dice the onion and put in pan with malt vinegar, simmer for 15 mins. Trim runner beans and slice thinly, put in a pan of boiling water and cook for 3 minutes, drain and refresh. Mix the mustard powder, turmeric, cornflour, salt and wholegrain mustard with 4tbsps white wine vinegar. Stir sugar and remaining white wine vinegar into onion/malt vinegar mix, boil and cook for 2 minutes. Add beans and cook gently for 10 mins, giving it a bit of a stir. Pour mustardy mix into the mixture stirring vigorously to avoid lumps. Simmer for 20 mins, stirring regularly. Put into hot jars and seal. Store for at least a month before eating, but it’s better if left for 3 or 4 months, or 12!
Noemi's hot apple cake
This apple cake is a real favourite on our smallholder courses; when we’ve been getting chilled outside, coming into the kitchen to the scent of cinnamon, caramelising demarara and hot apples warms the heart as well as the stomach.
6oz self raising flour
1/2 level teaspoon of baking powder
3oz caster sugar
1 duck egg (a hen egg would do, I suppose….)
1/4 pint of milk
1 1/2 oz butter
1lb dessert apples or mix of baking and dessert
4oz demarara sugar with 1 or more teaspoons of cinnamon
Butter a small baking tin (approx 10 x 6 x 2 inches, or 25 x 15 x 5cm). Rub the butter into the flour and baking bowder as if you were making a crumble topping. Add the caster sugar, egg and milk and beat to a thick batter. Pour into the baking tin. Peel, core and slice the apples, scattering them on top of the batter. Sprinkle generously with the demarara and cinnamon mix. Bake in a hot oven for 35-40 minutes. Use a clean skewer to test that the batter is cooked and comes out clean from the centre of the cake. Serve hot with thick cream. You can make this the day before and reheat in the oven for 10 minutes. The quantities double or treble easily (I make a triple quantity and cook in a big roasting tin lined with parchment).
This is my very favourite chutney, only to be outdone by my tomato and chilli relish, and is the best thing to go with strong hard cheeses, or to be stirred into your barbeque sauce to give a sleek gloss to Berkshire pork spare ribs. You have to make it in Victoria plum season, so your apples will be rather underripe (if you use English ones), but that never seems to matter. Apart from the sugar, dates and ginger, all the other ingredients we produce on the farm.
2lbs Victoria plums, stoned and chopped into 4
1lb tomatoes, chopped
1lb stoned dates, chopped
8oz chopped onions
1lb chopped apples
1lb chopped carrots
1lb moist dark brown sugar
tsp ground ginger
1.25 pints malt vinegar
Boil everything except the sugar and the ginger for an hour to an hour and a half, until soft – don’t let it stick on the base so use a heavy bottomed pan and stir from time to time. Add the sugar and ginger and boil for a further hour. Then put in hot jars and seal. It keeps, literally, for years, and best after 12 months, but you can dip in after 6 months if you must! And why Kate? It’s a family heirloom recipe.
I’m not a fan of spinach but I love the central ribs of chard leaves. The leaves are very spinachy and are cooked exactly the same way as spinach – rinsed and then steamed in the droplets of water left clinging to the leaves for a few minutes. But back to the ribs. I cut them into chunks, steam or boil them until the tip of a sharp knife sinks in easily, then drain. I make a bechamel sauce with butter, flour and milk, and a great gob of grainy mustard. Grate a fat wedge of strong hard cheese – the local aged Devon Oke is good, or Quicke’s hard goat cheese. Stir half into the bechamel, then put the chard into an oven-proof dish, pour over the bechamel, season, scatter over the remaining cheese and put in an oven for 15 mins or so til the cheese starts to go cripsy. Delish.
This is my favourite salad dressing ingredient for summer and makes a great gift for salad loving friends when put in a pretty bottle.
- Allow 1 pint of white malt vinegar, white wine vinegar or cider vinegar to each pound of raspberries
- Put the fruit in a glass bowl. Add the vinegar to the fruit, and leave for 3-5 days stirring occasionally
- Strain off the liquid, discard fruit and measure the quantity of liquid. Add 4-6oz white sugar per pint to the vinegar
- Boil together for 10 minutes and bottle. You can put a few fresh raspberries in the bottle if you fancy.
Raspberry and blackberry fool
This is a seriously posh pud and perfect for when you feel the need for indulgence. If you’ve wandered around hedgerows, the garden, or your local pick your own farm gathering berries, at least you’ve built up a guilt free appetite. Many fool recipes don’t cook the berries at all, but I think it gives a more intense flavour and colour. Serves 10 minimum.
1lb of fresh blackberries
1lb of fresh raspberries
2 pints of double cream (not the extra thick kind, as it has to be whippable)
4-8 oz of caster sugar (depending on sweetness of berries and tooth)
Keep back a handful of whole berries for decoration
Wash the blackberries and drain. Put in a pan with 4 oz of sugar and heat gently so that the berries release their juice (5 mins max). Then sieve, pushing through the berries to get as much flesh and juice as possible. Discard the stuff in the sieve; it’s the strained glory you want, so leave that to cool. Stick the raspberries in a liquidizer/processor to puree. Taste the berry mixtures. If they are sweet enough you don’t need any more sugar, if not, add some caster sugar to the cream, mid whip. Whip the cream to soft peaks and add in the blackberry mix, and whip more so things aren’t sloppy. Fold in the raspberry puree. Spoon into individual glasses or a huge glass bowl and chill for at least an hour, longer if possible to firm up. To serve, decorate with the whole berries, and if you have it, a sprig of fresh mint. This is an incredibly rich pud and you can serve in ramekin sized portions and still make everyone very happy. It’s an autumn dessert that tastes of summer.
Devilled lambs' kidneys
I just love kidneys. I know heaps of folk wrinkle their noses and refer to them as urine strainers and worse, but I’m with Mr. Leopold Bloom who “ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls. He liked thick giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart; liver slices fried with crustcrumbs, fried hencod’s roes. Most of all he liked grilled mutton kidneys which gave to his palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine.” I served up a heap of these kidneys to the builders recently and the dish vanished, fast. I don’t think they licked their plates but I can’t be sure.
As many lambs kidneys as you can get hold of – at least 2 per person, preferably far more
large sliced onion
dessert spoon of grainy mustard
jellied stock from a recent roast or chicken stock
generous gob of schmaltz (that’s dripping to you)
half a glass of sherry or marsala
Halve the kidneys lengthways and remove the fatty core (scissors work best for this). Sizzle the onions in the schmaltz until translucent and starting to brown. Chuck in the halved kidneys and keep on a highish heat so that they brown too. Flip them over to brown on the other side and then stir in the mustard – the yellow stuff won’t do for this, you really want the grainy type. Glug in the alcohol and let that sizzle too, then add in the stock. Bring up to a simmer and then cover and cook for 15 minutes or so on a gentle heat so as to keep the kidneys tender, or put in the oven. If this is for breakfast or brunch, serve on split hot muffins, or if you want it as a starter, stir in a generous gloop of thick greek yoghourt and sprinkle with coriander (or if you must, parsley, but I really don’t like the stuff) and serve on a small mound of carbs: rice, couscous, tagliatelle, or ciabatta.
Roast leg or shoulder of lamb
My favourite dish of all time – roasted fabulous meat is about as good as it gets. Simple. Take your whole leg or shoulder. Generously spoon French mustard over the joint, covering the skin, fat and flesh (use smooth Dijon or the more grainy mustards as you prefer). Then trickle over either runny honey or maple syrup. In your fave roasting pan sit the joint on a tablespoon of flour and stick it in the oven. For the first hour cover with foil, so the honey/syrup doesn’t burn. Then remove the foil and let it brown up. Depending on how pink you like your meat, roast in total for 1 ½ to 1 ¾ hours. Serve with baked spuds, carrots and parsnips par-boiled and then roasted round the meat, and red cabbage casserole (recipe below). Gravy is simple – put the joint on a hot dish for serving, pour off any excess fat from the roasting pan, and use the water saved from par-boiling the carrots and parsnips to pour over the meat juices and flour. Keep stirring over the heat til the right consistency. Season and you are done.
Red Cabbage Casserole
A deep purple hot veg dish, a perfect partner for fattier meats. This is amazing from frozen, so I make a buckets of it (3 large cabbages or armfuls of small ones), anoint it with alcohol and any Blenheim Orange or Bramley apples from the orchard, and freeze in portion sized bags to be reheated on demand. For a modest quantity that will still serve at least six people you need:
1 red cabbage
1lb of apples – dessert or culinary as you prefer
3 oz demarara sugar
Big handful of sultanas
Red wine dregs – a glass or three
Red wine or cider vinegar – a sploosh
Slice the red cabbage thinly and remove the hard core. Push the cabbage into a lidded casserole. Peel, core and chunk the apples and put with the cabbage. Scatter over the sugar and the sultanas. Pour in the wine and a couple of tablespoons of wine vinegar. Bung on the lid, bring to a simmer on the stove and then stick in the oven. A good two hours in a medium oven should do it. It tastes great fresh, but the flavour deepens the next day or from frozen. Serve it hot with lamb, pork, goose or duck (probably not all at the same time). Some folks add onion, but I think that’s a mistake.
Succulent sweet roasted Berkshire gammon
One joint of gammon, around 2 kilos or 4.5 lbs
a handful of carrots chopped roughly into chunks
a couple of small onions, ditto
half a celery, ditto
a handful of fresh thyme
runny honey, maple syrup or muscovado sugar
your favourite mustard (Moutarde a L’Ancienne, Dijon etc)
Plonk your joint into a big pan or casserole, cover with water and bring to the boil. Drain off the water, cover again with fresh water, bring back to the boil, scoop off any scum and then add the carrots, onion and celery and the thyme. Either simmer on the stove or in the oven for an hour. Take out the joint and using a sharp knife slice off the skin but leave all the fat. Score the fat diagonally, and again in the opposite direction so you have diamond shapes popping out, making the joint look a bit like a hedgehog. Smear liberally with your fave mustard – it might be whole grain or smooth, just as you like. Then add your sweet ingredient of choice, so pour the maple syrup, spoon the honey or using your hands, clart the sugar onto the surface of the fat to make it cling. Put the joint into a roasting pan. Spoon all the veg out of the cooking juices and scatter around the joint. Add a few generous tablespoons of the liquor around the joint and then roast in a hottish oven for 45 minutes. This can be eaten hot, as it comes, with baked spuds and red cabbage casserole (above), with the cooking vegetables and a swirl of the pan juices, and is wonderful cold in sandwiches or with salad. Also great sliced and fried for breakfast with a duck egg.
Duck Egg Brioche
375g strong white flour
2.5 teaspoons dried yeast
2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
6 duck eggs
200g softened unsalted butter
Mix the yeast with a couple of tablespoons of water and put to one side. Put the flour, sugar and salt into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre of the flour mix and add the yeasty water, 5 of the duck eggs (beaten) and mix together to make a soft , damp dough. Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until it’s nice and elastic. Wash and dry your mixing bowl and then grease it with a knob of melted butter (taken from the 200g). Put your dough in the bowl and turn it to make it nice and buttery all over. Cover the bowl with a clean tea cloth and leave to rise for an hour or more in a warm place to double in size. Using your knuckles, knock it back and leave to rest for another 10 minutes. By hand, squish small nuts of butter into the dough, until you’ve added 175g. Turn out again onto a floured surface and knead for a few minutes til the butter is evenly incorporated. Grease a pound loaf tin with butter. Divide the dough into ten balls and place them, 5×2 into the loaf tin. Cover the tin with your tea cloth and let the dough double in size once more; this should take half an hour. Heat the oven to 220c/425f/gas7. Brush the loaf with an egg yolk mixed with a dash of water and bake for 20-25 minutes. Turn out of the tin and leave to cool on a wire rack, or, like us, tear off balls of brioche and eat warm with raspberry jam.
When we have a glut of aubergines (the polytunnel makes these easy to grow and we always have more than we can eat), my mind turns to moussaka on cooler days. We don’t do much garlic here, but add to the meat if you like. Slice an onion into a pan of hot olive oil til translucent, then add the minced breast of hogget and brown. Add a glass of red or white wine, whatever you have to hand, a tin of chopped tomatoes, a cinnamon stick and some fresh oregano. Cook covered for half an hour. Slice the aubergines about 1cm thick. Rather than fry them in oil which adds a lot of fat, I lay them on a baking sheet, sprinkle a bit of olive oil on them and roast for 20 minutes, turn and cook for a further 10 mins. Put a layer of aubergines in an oven proof dish, and layer with the lamb, having drained off any excess fat (2 or 3 layers of each depending on the dish size. Melt 3oz butter on a low heat and add 3oz plain flour to make a roux, slowly beating in a pint of milk so you have a béchamel sauce. Season to taste, let it cool a little and then beat in 2 eggs (duck eggs for preference!). Pour the sauce over the meat and aubergine layers. Put the whole dish in the oven and cook for 30 mins until the top is golden and bubbling. A crisp green salad is the best accompaniment. Eat, groan and relax.
Roast leg or shoulder of hogget
My favourite dish of all time – roasted fabulous meat is about as good as it gets. Take a whole leg or shoulder. Generously spoon French mustard over the joint, covering the skin, fat and flesh (use smooth Dijon or the more grainy mustards as you prefer). Then trickle over either runny honey or maple syrup. In your best roasting pan sit the joint on a tablespoon of flour and if you love rosemary, pop a few fresh sprigs in with the meat, and stick it in the oven. For the first hour cover with foil, so the honey/syrup doesn’t burn. Then remove the foil and let it brown up. You may want to put a splash of boiled water in at this point to stop the meat from sticking and start the gravy process. Depending on how pink you like your meat, roast in total for 1 ½ to 1 ¾ hours (less if it’s a half shoulder/leg joint). Serve with baked spuds, carrots and parsnips par-boiled and then roasted round the meat, and red cabbage casserole. Gravy is simple – put the joint on a hot dish for serving, pour off any excess fat from the roasting pan, and use the water saved from par-boiling the carrots and parsnips to pour over the meat juices and flour. Keep stirring over the heat til the right consistency. Season and you are done. You might want to serve with mint or redcurrant jelly.
James Martin’s recipe for roast hogget with anchovies and lemon (adapted by us)
Anchovy and lemon are amazing with lamb, hogget and mutton, so this is a real treat, and it does not taste in the least fishy – anchovy just gives the meat a salted rich flavour (so don’t add any salt). Mash together a tin of anchovies, 2 tsps capers, 2 tbsp honey, a dribble of cider or wine vinegar and a splash of white wine. Add zest of 2 lemons to the mix. Spoon a tbsp. of Dijon mustard over the lamb (leg, shoulder, breast) and then cover with the anchovy caper mix. Put some sprigs of rosemary and thyme in with the meat and the 2 zested lemons cut in halves. Roast for half an hour in a hot oven 220C/gas 7, then pour in 200mls of white wine and cook for a further 45mins – 1 hour on a lower shelf in the oven (or lower the temperature to 180C /gas4). Rest for 10 minutes before carving and serve with mash and purple sprouting broccoli.
Lancashire hotpot, hogget style
Use the chump chops and neck for this, plus some diced meat (from the shoulder is a good bet).
3 large floury potatoes e.g. Maris Piper
2 onions, sliced
500ml lamb stock
Preheat the oven to 170C. Dust the meat lightly with flour and sprinkle with a pinch of sugar, salt and pepper. Peel the potatoes and slice them thinly. Butter a high-sided casserole dish and arrange about a third of the potatoes in the bottom. Season and sprinkle with thyme. Top with the meat and bay leaf followed by the onions. Arrange the remaining potato slices on top and Pour enough stock over the potatoes to just come up to the base of the topping, and dot with butter. Cover and bake for two hours, then uncover and bake for another 30 minutes, until golden. Serve with pickled red cabbage.
Herb crusted hogget rack
You can make this with individual chops but it’s easier with a rack that you slice into individual chops before serving.
Stir together bread crumbs, chopped fresh mint, rosemary, lemon zest, salt and pepper in a bowl, then drizzle with just enough olive oil so that they combine nicely, If you have an end of parmesan sitting like a small rock in the fridge, you could grate that in as well. Brown the rack in a hot pan, then spread the skin/fat side with French or English mustard. Press the crust mix onto the mustard, and then cook the rack in the oven for about 25 minutes. Let it stand for up to 10 minutes, then slice into chops and serve with your favourite veg – purple sprouting broccoli, parsnip puree, and new potatoes.
Hogget devilled kidneys and Boozy hogget liver
I know not everyone likes offal, but many of you do and I for one just adore lamb and hogget kidneys. I’m not one for genetic engineering, but I often wish animals had more than a pair each! So with just the two kidneys in a whole hogget box, this is really only a dish for one.
Cut the kidneys in half and snip out the white core with scissors. Fry a couple of small finely chopped shallots, then add the kidneys and a rasher or two of streaky bacon cut into pieces, letting the meaty bits brown. Add 1 tsp of grainy mustard, a small splash of Worcestershire sauce and a pinch of cayenne. Stir in 1 tsp of redcurrant jelly if you have it, and most importantly a glass of sherry – fino, amontillado or cream, whatever you have in the cupboard. Let the sauce bubble and cook for a few minutes until the kidneys are no longer bloody, but just a touch pink on the inside. Pile on to crisp toast, or a bed of massed potato. Eat in secret!
You can cook the hogget liver in a very similar fashion to the kidneys. Slice it in strips, coat it in flour, then fry with onions or shallots, add bacon and mushrooms. When the liver is cooked to your satisfaction (again, slightly pink, just for a few minutes) add madeira or sherry and let it bubble to thicken the sauce. Serve with mash, rice or noodles and I bet the juice will run down your chin.