First question: what is hogget?
Hogget is yearling lamb – lamb that has had an extra spring grazing season. These slightly larger animals have had a bit more time for their meat to develop in flavour and complexity, but still maintain the tenderness of lamb. This meat is prized by chefs and restauranteurs the world over, but is all but unknown to the home cook. I had been dimly aware of hogget and had the idea of doing something with it at the back of my mind for a long time when I met Emma at the Cultivate Veg Van last year.
Emma Bloomfield of Ewesful Acres grew up on a smallholding, and now raises her sheep and lambs on the wild flower meadows at the Earth Trust farm, right next to Cultivate’s headquarters just a few miles outside Oxford. Before finding this permanent home she raised her sheep as a “flying flock”, travelling all round the countryside using whatever pastureland was available. I was already doing dinners themed around locally produced fruit and veg, so some truly locally sourced meat was too good an opportunity to pass up. Emma loved the idea of getting the word out about the secret gem that is hogget, and told me she’d be delighted to collaborate with me but could I pretty please give her a week to recover after lambing season?
The hogget feast will take place on Saturday 27th May. A select few guests will get the chance to hear Emma talk about how she raises her sheep, see me demonstrate the butchery of the different cuts of hogget, and eat a series of seven dishes that I’ve cooked to show each of the cuts at their absolute best. Accompanying the meat will be fresh local & seasonal produce from Cultivate.
At the end of the night, guests will be able to take home a recipe card for their favourite dish, and we’ll be auctioning off the meat from the butchery demonstration so they can buy the cut to make it with.
My hope for this dinner is to introduce people to the amazing potential of Emma’s locally raised hogget. By hearing how it’s raised, seeing where each cut comes from and learning what to do with each one, I hope this dinner will give people a greater understanding of the connection between the animal in the field and the food on the plate.
Places at these nights are £35 and the first 6 places sold will each receive a £5 gift voucher to use towards purchases at the meat auction.