Hogget Casserole

This casserole is exactly as simple as it needs to be, which is to say, it is exceptionally complicated. I make no apology for this. Each step has its reason, and the reason is that it’s worth it. If you want an easy life, stay tuned for next week’s slow roast shoulder recipe. It is delicious. But if your obsession for the perfect casserole is equal to mine, you will learn here everything I know about how to make it, and in a fraction of the time I took to discover it.

Hogget Casserole

  • 1 hogget shank
  • 1 hogget knuckle
  • 1 hogget neck
  • About 1 litre flavourful liquid e.g best quality lamb, chicken or beef stock, beer, red wine or any combination of these (see note below)
  • 4 large onions
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 3 large carrots/8 small carrots
  • 1 bouquet garni (2 bay leaves, sprigs of rosemary, thyme, parsley and/or oregano tied with a small piece of string)
  • 2 large parsnips
  • 1 small celeriac
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Knob of butter
  • 1 tbsp honey or demerara sugar

Season the meat and fry in a flame-proof casserole dish over a hot heat until well browned all over. Remove the meat and deglaze the dish with a little stock/wine. The browning adds flavour to the meat and the deglazing ensures that the flavour of the little bits that stick to the pan is not lost.

Create a vegetable trivet by putting a couple of stalks of celery, a carrot sliced lengthways down the middle, and an onion cut into 1cm thick rounds on the bottom of the casserole dish. The trivet vegetables will be cooked so long that their texture becomes undesirable but their flavour will enrich the sauce. 

Arrange the browned meat on the trivet of vegetables – top up with liquid to just below the level of the meat. Add the bouquet garni. By using a minimum of liquid, the flavour from the meat won’t be diluted but will be concentrated within an intense sauce. The meat sits atop the trivet and almost steams, rather than boils. 

Cover with a tight-fitting lid and transfer to the oven. Cook for 2 hrs at 140C or until the meat is very tender and falling off the bone. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Cooked for too long, the meat will lose flavour. Check regularly and stop cooking once the right level of tenderness is reached. 

Once cooled remove the pieces of meat and put to one side. Wring out and discard the vegetable trivet but retain the braising liquid. Allowing the meat to cool in the liquid causes it to draw up the moisture and avoids it drying out.

Fry the remaining onions in a little oil until very well browned. Grate the parsnips and celeriac and fry in oil until very well browned. Combine all these vegetables and pour over the braising liquid. Simmer over a very low flame until sauce thickens. Shred the meat by hand and mix through the sauce. Season the casserole to taste. Cooking the vegetables separately gives greater control over their texture. You can cook the casserole up to this step well in advance – the flavour improves with a night in the fridge. 

Cut remaining carrots into rounds/oblique shapes. Place in a saucepan with a knob of butter, pinch of salt and honey/demerara sugar. Add just enough water to cover the carrots and bring to the boil and simmer until tender (approx 8 mins). Add carrots to casserole and serve. Cooking the carrots in this way preserves their colour, which helps greatly with presentation of the casserole. 

 

Notes on stock

“Flavourful liquid” glosses over a great deal of hidden work that went into this recipe. I started with my best quality chicken stock – made in a pressure cooker from well-roasted chicken carcasses. I then roasted ALL of the unused hogget bones and all the vegetable ends and peelings from the entire seven course meal, added those to the strained chicken stock and effectively made a double stock. I then added half a bottle of red wine, half a bottle of beer and the liquid from pressure cooking caramelised onions to the stock and reduced this down into the “flavourful liquid” that I made the casserole with.

I cannot in good conscience recommend that you engage in this kind of madness, but I will observe that it did taste bloody good.

 

Hogget Recipes: Tandoori Hogget Curry

Tandoori Hogget

The third course of the Hogget Feast was a Tandoori Hogget Rump with a curry sauce and rice. Lacking a traditional clay walled tandoor oven (or the permission to dig one into my back garden), I used the barbecue grill to give the tandoori-marinaded hogget its nicely blackened finish.

Rump is a great cut for grilling as it’s lean and flat-ish (a butterflied leg is a worthy alternative ). It benefits from a good searing, but try to keep the centre of the meat nice and pink.   Continue reading

Hogget Recipes Round 1

This is part one of the Hogget Feast recipes series of blog posts. In this post, I cover the first two dishes of the night; the Rosemary and Garlic Cutlets and the Boned and Rolled Saddle.

These courses came first because they use the tenderest cuts which require the least cooking and the least added flavours. Much as with a wine tasting, I wanted to begin with the most delicate dishes and move to the most robust.

 

Rosemary & Garlic Hogget Cutlets

Lamb Cutlets

This course uses my all-purpose rosemary, garlic and olive oil marinade. Although minimalist and easy to do, it is great for complementing and bringing out the flavour in the meat. I use this marinade extensively for hogget and lamb and it works really well with aubergine as well.

I served these cutlets with chimichurri – a tangy green sauce that goes well with almost everything.

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Hogget Feast

On Saturday the 27th May and June 3rd, I am hosting a hogget feast. Numbers are strictly limited but we will try to put on additional nights as they fill up. UPDATE: July 1st added as an additional date. Book here

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. Continue reading

Locavore Lunches at Silvie

We’ve enjoyed the Sunday Lunches at Silvie’s, but various competing commitments we’ve had to suspend them for the time being. Look out for Locavore’s return in a new format in Autumn 2017.

I’m delighted to announce my upcoming collaboration with Silvie, homegrown cafe, bakery and guest house on Iffley Road. Starting March 5th, they will run on the first Sunday of every month. Click here to book

silvie-3

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Supper Club Dates: 2017

Roasted pepper and smoked sweetcorn soupA new year has come and it’s time to get back to work. With no further ado:

SATURDAY 25TH FEBRUARY PAY-WHAT-YOU-WANT
FRIDAY MARCH 3RD PAY-WHAT-YOU-WANT
SATURDAY MARCH 11TH PAY-WHAT-YOU-WANT

SATURDAY 22ND APRIL PAY-WHAT-YOU-WANT
SATURDAY 29TH APRIL PAY-WHAT-YOU-WANT
SATURDAY 13th MAY PAY-WHAT-YOU-WANT

SATURDAY 24th JUNE PAY-WHAT-YOU-WANT
SATURDAY 1st JULY PAY-WHAT-YOU-WANT

 

EAST OXFORD/MARSTON LOCATION
BOOK NOW

List to be be updated with new dates as demand requires.
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Suckling Pig

I served Suckling Pig as one of my series of 2016 Christmas Feasts and is available for private hire events for 6+ people – price on request. 

suckling-pig-roast-2“The third time someone calls you a donkey… might wanna think about buying a saddle.”

When the first person told me when they’d had suckling pig, it was so tender that it was literally carved with a dinner plate, I didn’t even understand how that could work.

The second time somebody told me they’d had suckling pig carved by a dinner plate, I thought it sounded like a gimmicky idea dreamed up in a Spanish tourist trap.

The third time, I bought the saddle. Continue reading

Smoke and Thyme Christmas Feasts

Tis the season (no really, tis already), and I am delighted to announce my Smoke and Thyme Christmas Feasts.

Faced with a whole array of different dramatic Christmas feast ideas, I couldn’t decide what I wanted to serve, so the answer just had to be “EVERYTHING!”. I’ve come up with five feasts for this festive season, each built around a different centrepiece.

18th Nov: Christmas Surprise: Pay-What-You-Want
26th Nov: Fishmas: £35 p/h SOLD OUT!
3rd Dec: Suckling Pig Feast: £45 p/h
10th Dec: Canard en Croute: £35 p/h
16th Dec: Salt Beef Wellington: £42 p/h
Continue reading

Harvest Tasting Menu Announced

 

Just a quick post with the menu for now. More photos to come soon:

  1. Mushroom, chestnut and caramelised onion pate with beetroot bread and pickled carrotsimg_2936
  2. Celeriac Soup with White Truffle Oil
  3. Leek Bhaji
  4. Chilli sans Carne Autumn Root Gratin
  5. Squash Feast
  6. Poached Pear with Pear SorbetIMG_2899
  7. Pumpkin and Carrot Cake