This post has been written in a collaboration with Swaledale Online Butchers, ‘a strictly whole-carcass, nose-to-tail butchers based in Yorkshire.’ Their meat is of the highest quality, and they supply to some of the best restaurants in the country.
Braised shoulder of mutton is an iconic British dish, though I wonder how many of us has ever tried it. That it was such a part of our food culture is reflected in the fact that it is a very popular pub name. The shoulder is made up of several muscles, all of which work hard, so slow cooking is essential. Braising is by far the best way to cook it: the meat sat in the cooking liquid goes wonderfully tender whilst the rest of the meat roasts and the skin goes crisp.
Mutton and lamb go very well with anchovy, and I’ve chosen to roast my mutton spread with Gentleman’s Relish, the spiced potted anchovy spread. If you can’t get hold of it, don’t worry, you can make some yourself, or simply mash some canned anchovies with a few spices.
The shoulder takes 6 hours to cook, but don’t let that put you off; for the vast majority of the time, you don’t need to do anything at all!
2 leeks or red onions, sliced
4 good sized cloves of garlic, crushed with the flat of a knife
8 sprigs or rosemary, marjoram or oregano
1 shoulder of mutton, on the bone
Salt and pepper
20g (half a tub) Gentleman’s Relish or ½ can of anchovies and ½ tsp each nutmeg, mace and cayenne pepper
125g butter, softened
500ml red wine
250 ml beef or mutton/lamb stock
2 level tsp cornflour
1 tsp brown sugar or 1 tbs redcurrant jelly
Preheat your oven to 120°C.
Strew the leek or onion, garlic and herbs over the base of roasting tin large enough to fit your mutton.
On a board, season the underside of the meat, then place in the tin, skin side up. If using Gentleman’s relish, spread it over the skin of the mutton, then spread the butter on top of it. If using anchovies, simply mash them with some of the softened butter with the spices.
Season again with salt and pepper – though hold back a little on the salt if you have used Gentleman’s Relish – and pour the stock and red wine over the lamb. Cover with foil and braise in the oven for 5 ½ hours.
Remove from the oven and turn up the temperature to 220°C, take off the foil and pour the majority of the cooking liquor into a saucepan. Be careful here – it’s easier to remove the mutton to a board, then pour the wine and stock, then pop the mutton back in the pan.
Return the mutton to the oven for 25 minutes to crisp up, basting it half way through the time. Remove, cover with foil and allow to rest.
Meanwhile, spoon off any fat from the liquid and place over a high heat to reduce by half. Slake the cornflour in a little cold water and whisk into the reducing gravy. Add the sugar or redcurrant jelly, taste and correct for seasoning. Add more sugar or jelly if required.
Take the meat from the bone and cut into thick slices and place on a warm serving dish and pour the gravy through a sieve into a gravy jug.
Serve with mashed potatoes, kale and carrots.