With snow, sleet and hail across the country this winter, I guess we all want hearty, comfort food that will give us the energy to withstand the elements and whatever the weather throws at us.
And nothing is better, in my view, than a hearty stew or slow roast of hogget. “So what is hogget?” you may be asking. Well, hogget is basically older lamb that is at least a year old. Growing that bit longer gives the meat more flavour and there is often a little more fat around the meat, which also improves the flavour and succulence of dishes.
Hogget is a lot more tender than mutton and is very versatile, ideal for Irish stew, Lancashire hotpot or a slow roast. One of our winter favourites is a slow roasted shoulder of hogget, and it is such a simple dish to cook and serve.
Simply place the shoulder joint in a roasting dish. Season it with salt and pepper, insert a few slivers of garlic into the meat or rub garlic around the dish, adding a little water or stock at the start and from time to time while cooking. Baste thoroughly every half hour, adding more stock if the pan is drying out.
Cook the shoulder in a moderate oven until the meat is almost falling off the bone, and you have plenty of rich gravy, probably for some two hours or so for a good sized joint. Add butter beans, flageolets or mixed beans to the dish fifteen minutes before the end of cooking.
Check the gravy for seasoning and serve the hogget in thick slices with the beans and rich gravy, accompanied by French fries or baked potatoes and winter vegetables. Quite delicious and full of flavour! And the kind of really rich, hearty, and wholesome meal that will help you through the depths of winter.