Mutton dressed as Lamb
Well, what a start to the year! Having hit the ground running from the 1st January, unfortunately once again I have been a little slow at uploading my latest recipe.
We’re starting 2016 with two cracking ingredients that I’m sure will be trending throughout the year; mutton and cauliflower.
I have touched on the ethics of eating lamb previously and wrote extensively about lamb, hogget and mutton over on GrowEatGather back in April 2015. A more sustainable and ethical means of consuming sheep meat, mutton and hogget’s positive profile seems to be increasing year on year.
With spring swiftly approaching, our thoughts will soon turn to our easter feast of which lamb is commonly top of the list. It isn’t, however, the best time of year to being enjoying this brilliantly British meat.
As explained in my other lamb article, “‘spring’ refers to lamb born and nursed during the spring months, rather than when we should be consuming this meat. Spring lambs’ succulent, sweet meat is best enjoyed in late summer/early autumn after an extensive period of grazing on luscious nutrient-rich pastures”.
In search of a more ethical alternative for the early months of the year, I explored lamb’s more mature relative mutton. The eldest of all sheep meat, mutton has the most rich flavour; deep and earthy, enhanced by its long period of grazing a plethora of pastures and at least 2 years of fresh air!
Having worked the land a little longer than its more youthful sister, mutton requires a little more tender loving care but its far from laborious. Like any other meat, pick the right cut, a tenderising marinade and if left to rest after cooking, mutton is as juicy and succulent as more juvenile varieties. Mutton is also extremely inexpensive and therefore a great choice when purse strings are a little tighter.
Joining our mutton in this winter warmer is what is set to be one of the superfood of 2016. Cauliflower has long been a staple winter vegetable on the British Isles, although it has struggled to shrug off its cheesy, calorific coat. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing better than a dish a molten cauliflower cheese, bubbling and golden pulled straight from the oven, but the last year has shown the culinary world how much more versatile this vegetable is.
Its interesting texture of tightly packed flower heads makes cauliflower all the more versatile in the kitchen. Roasted whole, steaming gently as the heat permeates the small curds; broken down and gently cooked as delicately flavoured florets; or blitz and blended to form a fine, grain consistency for a carb alternative, its uses, at the moment, seem to be endless.
Packed full of numerous vitamins aiding anti-inflammatory, digestion, and cardiovascular support, cauliflower also has the healthy credentials making it one of the number veggies for the growing health industry. And with a delicate, almost neutral flavour, cauliflower is a great base for herbs and spices, as well as supplementing grains and beans in soups, salads and curries to add sustenance to dishes.
Peaking now in season and popularity, I have my favourite way to enjoy this glorious winter veg. Marinated then roasted in a blend of indian spices, my roasted cauliflower almost, I say almost, steals the show! Sitting on a bed of wilted greens, perfectly partnered with the mutton chops by a cool herby yoghurt, cauliflower is getting off to a strong start this year!
Thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely grated
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp ground coriander
Pinch of salt & pepper
4 1/2 tbsp rapeseed oil
4 mutton chops
1 small cauliflower
Bunch of swiss chard
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 small, medium chilli
CORIANDER AND MINT DRESSING
4 tbsp plain yoghurt
1 tbsp milk
1 tsp ground cumin
Handful of mint, finely chopped
Handful of coriander, finely chopped
Pinch of salt
- Combine the ginger, garlic, turmeric, garam masala, cumin, paprika, coriander, the juice and zest of half a lime and 4 tablespoons of oil. Stir to form a smooth paste.
- Spoon 2/3 of the marinade into a large dish then add the chops, coating them all over. Cover the dish and place in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or preferable overnight. Cover the remaining marinade and refrigerate until needed.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4 and remove the chops from the fridge to come to room temperature. Trim away the leave of the cauliflower then cut the florets away from the root. Coat the cauliflower in the remaining marinade and place in an oven-proof dish. Roast in the oven for 20 - 25 minutes or until the cauliflower is cooked through.
- In the meantime, place a non-stick griddle or frying pan over a medium-high heat. Carefully lay the chops into the pan and cook on either side for 3 - 4 minutes. Once slightly charred on either side, remove from pan and set aside to rest.
- Wash and roughly chop the chard before heating a little oil in a pan. Add the chard, along with the cumin seeds and finely chopped chilli to the pan and sauté for 2 - 3 minutes until the leaves are tender.
- To make the dressing, simply combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Grate in the zest of the remaining lime and you are ready to serve.
- Ideal served with flat or naan breads.
The stem of the cauliflower is also tender and sweet - dice and add to the florets in the marinade for added texture.
By Helen Upshall