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On a recent trip to the Real Food Festival at Earl’s Court, we did manage to find a few interesting things in between pushing through crowds, avoiding random things in jars and being irritated by argumentative ladies selling wine. One of these interesting things was a rolled shoulder of mutton, which we bought as we had been talking about cooking mutton for a quite a while but hadn’t happened across any. The mutton was from Elan Valley in Wales and they also had a few other cuts, along with some “mutton ham” which I was keen to taste, but we had to evacuate the area before I managed to do so due to a stampede of baby strollers heading our way.
We had a quick look around the interwebs for a recipe and found this one by Mark Hix. Mark Hix is a decent chef and specialises in British food, both traditional and modern, so we figured he probably knows what he’s talking about when it comes to mutton. Something in this recipe must have been lost in translation (from English to English?) or we just got it completely wrong, because it turned out a bit strangely.
We started off by browning the meat as specified; that was easy. Then chopped the specified huge amount of onions and made up the specified huge amount of chicken stock, which are thickened with butter and flour to make a sauce. The meat goes into a casserole dish and this sauce is poured over it. I don’t know if we had the shoulder of a particularly diminutive sheep, but it just looked like it was swimming in chicken soup when we did this.
Anyway, into the oven it went for two hours. The recipe said to turn the meat every half hour, which we did, but I don’t think we really needed to as it was almost completely submerged the whole time. After the two hours, we took the meat out and let it rest while we reduced the sauce down a bit and seasoned and added the chopped chives to it. We sliced the mutton and served it with mashed potato and spring greens.
Now I rather liked the taste and texture of the mutton and thought that part worked pretty well. However, it you had any of the sauce with it then it tasted exactly like mutton that had accidentally fallen into a chicken casserole and there were no two ways about this. Which I’m sure wasn’t the intention of the recipe. So I’m not sure where we went wrong and I’ve gone over the recipe again to see if we got any ingredients and/or quantities wrong, but it all seems to be in order. Needless to say, next time we happen across some mutton (hopefully under less harried circumstances), we’ll cook it differently.