Although we’ve had several glorious days of uplifting Spring sunshine lately and I’ve enjoyed some great gardening time with Ruby, there are still days when only slow-cooked comfort food will do. The hogget from Windrush Farm that I cooked for 6 hours with rosemary, garlic and our home-made cider was definitely food to warm the soul as well as body.
Locally farmed in a traditional way and cooked slowly on our wood-burning stove, the hogget was full of flavour, tender and still succulent due to the liquid.
Windrush Farm isn’t far from home, near Cold Aston in the Cotswolds and some great old breeds of sheep are farmed there – pedigree Windrush Berrichons, Dorsets and Whitefaced Woodlands. All naturally reared on pasture, resulting in great flavour and nutrition.
Even better, they sell hogget and mutton. I’ve been wanting to try mutton for ages – partly because I look at the new lambs at this time of year and like the idea of them living longer. Also I was curious about the difference in flavour from animals that have grown slowly and naturally to those that are barely weaned.
I have to admit that I didn’t know what hogget was until I spoke to Peter from Windrush Farm; it’s in between lamb and mutton, meat from sheep between 12 and 24 months. Very tasty it is too, and so suited to slow cooking.
Living as I do amidst gorgeous honey coloured towns and villages that were mostly built from the wool trade, I was really interested to hear that hogget was common back when there was a market for wool. Now that their fleeces have so little value, it rarely makes economic sense for farmers to keep sheep, other than ewes and rams for breeding, beyond 12 months. Great then to hear of a local farm that’s keeping this tradition going.
I cooked a shoulder of hogget very simply – this is hardly a recipe, more about great produce. But this is how I went about slow-roasting this delicious meat:
First strip a couple of sprigs of rosemary of leaves and bash them in a pestle and mortar with 2 cloves garlic, Maldon sea salt and some olive oil. I rubbed this garlicky paste all over the hogget and left it for a few hours. Then I cooked a couple of sliced onions slowly in more olive oil and placed them in a large casserole pot. The hogget was then browned for about 10 minutes in the frying pan I’d cooked the onions. I placed the hogget on the onions, added a couple more whole cloves of garlic and a glass of cider, then cooled covered at 110C for about 6 hours. I removed the hogget and covered it in foil while I added a tin of cannellini beans to the onions and stirred through.
We ate our hogget and beans with lots of purple sprouting and garlicky potatoes. Leftovers went down very well too with flatbread, labneh, houmous and salads.
We still have a few hogget chops that I’m planning to try in a tagine and my thoughts are turning to mutton already. Thanks lots to Windrush Farm for such tasty meat.
Are fleeces really worth so little now? That’s sad to hear. I’d love to try a hogget and your treatment of it sounds perfect.
Apparently fleeces aren’t worth much at all. It’s a shame isn’t it – you can buy them from the farm that my hogget came from and they look wonderful too. Definitely recommend the hogget when you’re next back here.
We’ve been wanting to try hogget since we saw James Martin cook some a couple of years ago (Saturday Kitchen I think) but couldn’t track any down through our local butcher at the time. May have to try again though, so that I can use your recipe
Didn’t see James Martin cook it but I was really excited to try hogget. Keen to order a box now when I’m cooking a feast for family or friends.
It sounds wonderful, the left overs sounded great too. I’m going to have to root out a supplier I think.
Apparently hogget is still common in Yorkshire, not sure where else you can find it. Hope it sees a revival though – and mutton too.
How delicious. You don;t see much hogget or mutton in town, which is a shame as it has so much flavour 😉
Absolutely, feel very lucky to have a local supply.
We have a friend who rears lambs and finally this year we persuaded her to leave some for mutton. It was absolutely delicious and we’re hoping she’ll do the same next year.
I keep hoping we won’t be needing comfort food much longer, but though the sun shines there’s not much warmth in it yet.
I wondered today why I wrote about comfort food actually – it was such a lovely novelty standing waiting in Spring sunshine at school pick up and then Ruby decided she wanted pancakes in the tree-house! Still have an appetite for hogget and mutton though.
That sounds absolutely delicious Andrea. Love your homemade flatbread recipe too. I remember reading a Joanna Blythman article about hogget and mutton a while ago that said it was particularly healthy because of its high quality protein and amino acids, I think it was because they’ve grazed a little longer? Anyway, great recipe and brilliant find. Our local butcher doesn’t stock it, so will have to go to the farm gate I think. Sarah
Thanks Sarah and I think you’re right about the extra nutrition. Any meat from animals that have grazed on pasture has lots of amino acids doesn’t it and presumably lots of the lamb we buy probably hasn’t grazed long after being weaned? Very tasty anyway!
I’m in North Oxon and we get hogget direct from a farm. We’ve converted a few friends to it as it’s so tasty.
I really want to try making a mutton ham; it’s on my to-do list this year.
Fantastic that other farmers are selling hogget. And a mutton ham sounds wonderful – would love to hear how you do it and what it’s like.