The season is full of fresh ingredients ready to eat but spring lamb isn't one of them, says Philippa Davis. Don't be too hasty when choosing that Easter joint
Spring lamb is a popular choice for the Easter table, but don’t be too quick to choose your joint. Hogget, a sheep aged between one and years, is perfectly succulent and has a more complex and interesting flavour. Philippa Davis’ stuffed and rolled shoulder of hogget with warm potato and crème fraîche salad is fantastic for feeding a crowd.
If you are determined to serve lamb on Easter Sunday, add some bold flavours of your own as the meat hasn’t had time to develop. Try slow-cooked lamb with sherry and saffron potatoes.
STUFFED AND ROLLED SHOULDER OF HOGGET SERVED WITH WARM POTATO AND CREME FRAICHE SALAD
The popularity of spring lamb often surprises me as although the meat is tender I find it usually lacks depth of flavour due to its hay and cereal diet. Hogget, however, a sheep aged between one and two years, will still be perfectly succulent and having had time to graze will have developed a more complex and interesting taste.
- 2.5kg deboned hogget shoulder,
- plus the bones
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 sticks celery
- 2 red onions, peeled and roughly chopped
- 5 bay leaves
- Small bunch thyme stalks
- 150ml white wine
- 125g pinenuts, lightly toasted
- 20g tarragon, finely chopped
- 20g thyme leaves (keep the stalks for the lamb), finely chopped
- 20g mint, finely chopped
- 10g sage, finely chopped
- 1 handful washed wild garlic
- 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 100g white bread, roughly torn
- 200g chopped dried figs
- 1 heaped tbsp soft butter
Warm potato salad
- 800g Jersey Royals or new potatoes
- 200g crème fraîche
- 75g pea shoots or watercress
To make the hogget, first preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3.
In a food processor, blitz all the stuffing ingredients and season.
Lay the shoulder skin-side down and form a stuffing log down the middle. Bring up the sides and tie up to make a roll. Rub the outside of the meat with the olive oil and season.
Place the celery, onions, bay and thyme stalks in the bottom of a roasting dish. Sear the meat on all sides and place in the roasting dish with the wine and
150ml water. Cover with foil and cook for 3½ hours, basting a couple of times while cooking.
Let the hogget rest for 15 minutes then strain off all the liquor, removing the fat, to serve as gravy.
Remove all the string and slice the meat into thick rounds. Serve it with a jug of the cooking liquor to use as gravy and a side of new potato salad.
To make the new potato salad, boil the new potatoes in salted water and drain.
Lightly crush with a masher (you just want to break the skin but keep the shape) then stir through the crème fraîche with a splash of warm hogget liquor. Season and toss through the salad leaves.