Salt Marsh Mutton with Farro

Salt Marsh Mutton

The run-up to Christmas and those big meals is often a bit of an odd time and a hearty stew is one way to make something you can eat for a couple of days at least and keep out the cold!

This week I made this dish using half a leg of mutton from the Thoroughly Wild Meat Company. Andrew Moore raises lambs on the salt marsh and produces exquisite lamb. He is incredibly knowledgeable and helpful. You can find him at the farmers’ markets in Bristol and Bath which is where we met him.

When Andrew told me he was having mutton from his sheep this autumn in addition to the lamb,  I shared a box with Gill the Painter, an event involving a meeting in Gloucester Cathedral and a shopping bag on wheels…. felt like we had escaped from an Alan Bennett short story. Here is Gill’s balsamic leg of lamb recipe which she used on her mutton.

Gloucester Cathedral light

Here are my notes –  easy to do if you have time and plan a little ahead.

Brown your lightly seasoned meat in a little oil in a large casserole on the hob. Once nicely browned add as much stock as you need to come at least three-quarters up the meat. I used a mixture of vegetable stock and some lamb stock that I had saved in the freezer.  Fresh thyme is a good herb to use with this dish.

Squeeze two lemons and add the juice to the stock. We also threw in a jar of home-made fruit chutney . We weren’t quite sure what was in it, as it hadn’t been labelled, but probably it was raisins, apples, pears and onions in cider vinegar and spices, to give you an idea of what you might use.  Maybe a little wine if you have any opened bottles could find its way in there too.

salt marsh muttonBring to a gentle simmer on the hob.  Cover and place in a warm oven for 3 hours. You will need to check the meat every hour or so and turn it over. Someone turned the oven down at some point, so we ended up cooking the dish for nearer five hours but you will know your own oven best. Once the meat has cooked and softened, add small whole onions and return to the oven for another 45 minutes or so. Then add 50 grams of spelt  (farro) per person, check seasoning, cook for another 30 minutes. If you don’t have spelt, then try barley.

Serve with carrots, Brussels sprout tops or any tender green cabbage. You can either take the casserole to the hob and steam the vegetables on top of the stew, or steam them separately.

You can eat this one pot meal as it is, or serve with some fabulous bread to mop up the rich citrussy juices. Watch out for the onions as they explode when you bite them!

If you want to reduce the fat content of this meal, (and mutton can be fatty if you are used to eating very lean meat) the best thing is to cook the meat the day before, and allow the whole dish to cool so that the fat can be taken off the top. Add the onions and the spelt (farro) the following day.

25 thoughts on “Salt Marsh Mutton with Farro

  1. thecompletecookbook

    Joanna, what a hearty and flavourful looking casserole. I love slow cooked meats, which reminds me, I should get my husband to do his slow roast Greek lamb again.;-)
    :-) Mandy

  2. bagnidilucca

    That looks delicious, but it is over 30 degrees here, and steamy with afternoon storms. I think I will save it for when I am back in Bagni di Lucca in February. Farro is very popular in our area. I love it.

  3. drfugawe

    I hope you know how good you are at these food shots! Beautiful.

    I wish we did mutton over here like in the U.K. – the closest we get is stew lamb (I wonder if it isn’t mutton anyway?). Lamb is not uncommon here (just expensive!), especially here in Oregon, which has a noble lamb tradition – but we just had the best leg of lamb we’ve had in years, and it was Australian.

    But I’d bet yours was even more delicious.

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Doc, mutton is not common in England either. True, we have English and Welsh lamb but also huge imports from Aus and NZ. Australian lamb is usually excellent and leaner than our homegrown lamb tends to be, fitting in with modern tastes for lower fat meats generally. I like meat that has fat as it gives so much flavour. People nowadays seem to prefer to eat their fats hidden away, in breads and cakes and fast foods; I like to see and assess for myself whether to cut it off or drain it away once cooked.

      Thanks for the compliment, I only wrote the post because the photo looked nice – I think you’re on to me ;)

  4. Mark Scarbrough

    Yum. Looks perfect. I love mutton–actually prefer it to lamb, which makes me a bit of a minority in the U. S. Love goat for similar reasons, in fact. Sounds like a winner stew on this very cold day here in New England.

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Hi Mark, thanks for dropping by and the compliment ! Now goat!?! Haven’t had goat for years – is that something you get a lot in New England? I’m curious now…. I’ve had young goat in Greece and goat sausage in Wales, both memorable occasions.

  5. micklepickle

    So yummy looking that I am thinking of collecting sheep and mutton poems for an anthology devoted entirely to food. Does anyone know who may have been there
    before. ? It would be designed in the form of a cookery book, no recipes,only poems -from sauces to steaks, from fish to fondant, from cassoulet to charcuterie, from around the world and reaching back to antiquity.. the blackbirds baked in a pie and so on—-illustrated lavishly,of course, and with a coda of drinking poems…..

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Gently stir and blow the fire,
      Lay the mutton down to roast,
      Dress it quickly, I desire,
      In the dripping put a toast,
      That I hunger may remove —
      Mutton is the meat I love.
      On the dresser see it lie;
      Oh, the charming white and red;
      Finer meat ne’er met the eye,
      On the sweetest grass it fed:
      Let the jack go swiftly round,
      Let me have it nice and brown’d.
      On the table spread the cloth,
      Let the knives be sharp and clean,
      Pickles get and salad both,
      Let them each be fresh and green.
      With small beer, good ale and wine,
      Oh ye gods! how I shall dine.

      I’ll start off with Jonathan Swift…. (above)

      …. and follow up with one for you to figure out -your challenge Micklepickle ;)

      He said “I look for butterflies
      That sleep among the wheat:
      I make them into mutton-pies,
      And sell them in the street.
      I sell them unto men,” he said,
      “Who sail on stormy seas;
      And that’s the way I get my bread —
      A trifle, if you please.”

      It’s too easy with Google these days….. But I like the cookbook of poetry idea…. Amazon throws up a Tuscan based book called The Poet’s Cookbook… Anyone else any thoughts?

      1. heidiannie

        Ogden Nash had a book on gastronmical poems.
        I can’t remember the name (and too lazy to look it up right now) but it was a great collection of food poems.

        1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

          Thank you Heidi. I went googling, any excuse and haven’t found the Ogden Nash yet, but found this blog post with a nice collection of American poets writing on food – such is the nature of my wilfing (What Was I Looking For?)

  6. GillthePainter

    I’ve got one of those Cathedral pictures too!
    Didn’t we have a great day together.

    Your salt marsh mutton looks amazing. I’ve still got the chop and joint in the freezer waiting for me to give them that special loving treatment.

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      You inspire me with your great lamb recipes Gill! I still have other pieces in the freezer too. Trying to make some space in there. Made 12 jars of marmalade this week, found last year’s frozen Sevilles lurking…

  7. Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial

    Oh Jo, what gorgeous photos! When I opened this post, the first pic made me sigh…and it’s not even 6am here yet! Adore the reflected stained glass windows in your cathedral shot! Slow cooked poached mutton, I reckon I could eat that every meal for days in a row and not get tired of it! :)

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      Thankyou Celia!

      every meal for days in a row

      hee hee it was beginning to look that way – we’re having a night off the mutton, still a meal left in the fridge, and, pretending it’s summer, we had fresh Cornish crab salad, and lots of delicious julienned vegetables and some hot Ciabatta… a very late birthday treat or something along those lines….

  8. cityhippyfarmgirl

    That dish looks like a comforting warm hug. Its mutton arms draping themselves around you in a reassuring nurturing embrace….I’d be in for that.

  9. sallybr

    Beautiful photos, fantastic recipe, makes me think of a cozy evening by the fire… well, in California this image is a little tricky to materialize, but we won’t be here forever..


    Loved the post…

  10. jan trounce

    Great photo – wonderful stained glass window reflection. Cathedrals were really built with awe and wonder in mind weren’t they. My husband would think the same of your delicious mutton meal. We used to be able to buy mutton here in Brisbane 20/30 years ago, but now I would be obliged to buy the whole beasty and we don’t have sufficient cathedrals in Brisbane! I love the mental image of your meeting in the cathedral- and I love Alan Bennett too. Although my mind went off down the road of a shopping trolley with a slight squeak, the troller with a slight limp, the raincoat is damp……

    1. Joanna @ Zeb Bakes Post author

      It’s the best bit of a cathedral for me – the stained glass colours pooling on the cool stone – so glad you liked the photo Jan and the Alan Bennett reference. Did you see that wonderful film about the pig and rationing? A Private Function? I adored that film :)

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