For me this is the time of year for hearty meaty food, and it don’t get any heartier or meatier than mutton. This older version of lamb is so good slow braised and roasted, and not too expensive either. Just stick to the cheap cuts such as shoulder.
1 shoulder mutton
2 sticks celery
6 shallots, halved
Large bunch thyme and rosemary
3 bulbs garlic, halved
3 litres water
Small bunch oregano, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
200g (7oz) panko breadcrumbs
Start by putting the shoulder into the biggest pot you have. Add the celery, shallots, peppercorns, bay-leaves, herbs (except oregano) and garlic, then cover the lamb with water. Cover the pot and put it in the oven for three hours at 160°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3. Once the mutton is coming away from the bone it is done. Allow it to cool a bit and remove it gingerly from the liquor.
Find a deep roasting tray and line it with cling film. Pick the mutton off the bone and break the meat up into smallish pieces in a mixing bowl. While still hot, add finely chopped oregano and salt and pepper and mix gently. Pour the meat into the tray and press it down. Lay another sheet of cling film on top and press with a weight. Pop it in the fridge for 24 hours. When pressed, turn it out and it will be completely firm.
The beauty of this technique then becomes clear. You cut the mutton into squares and brush the top with mustard. Sprinkle a thick layer of crumbs over the top and it is ready.
To cook, just pop the number of squares that you need into an oven dish and pour in a splash of the cooking liquor. Roast in the oven at 220°C/425°F/Gas Mark 7 for 10 minutes or so until the top is golden. Use the juices in the pan as a sauce, or reduce the cooking liquor down to make a gravy. Either way this is easy and quick and the results are crunchy perfection every time. I like to serve this with bubble and squeak and a lot of good burgundy.