Herdwick lamb has made its welcome return to Booths for its limited four month season. As seen on BBC Countryfile, the iconic breed, reared only in the Cumbrian hills, has enjoyed a retail renaissance due to Booths’ support. Booths is the only supermarket to stock the seasonal delicacy and support Cumbrian hill farming.
Herdwick lamb has historic ties to the Lake District, but there are only 13,000 remaining upland holdings in England and 20% of these farmers are expected to retire or stop farming in the next five years. To improve the viability and profitability of upland farming, Booths work collaboratively with Herdwick farmers. They have devised a unique programme whereby farmer Ian Knight sources Herdwick from local farms and supplies it to Booths for a guaranteed fair price.
Ian Knight says; “One of the worst things about farming is the uncertainty of the value of lamb. Working with Booths guarantees secure demand and a fair price for our Herdwick lamb. This enables farmers to plan ahead and invest in a sustainable future for their businesses.”
Booths is renowned for its commitment to seasonal produce and connections with rural industry, and as the only supermarket to stock Herdwick, they give the hard pressed hill farmers a premium for their stock.
Herdwick is popular amongst top chefs for its distinct flavour, which develops due to a varied diet of wild grass and herbs. Booths meat buyer David Simons explains ‘“Herdwick is certainly one of Booths hero products and there is growing demand for this meat, with its distinctive gamey flavour of the fells.”
“The increase in sales is thanks to greater awareness of the breed and customers now ask for Herdwick at our butcher’s counters. We are proud to help sustainably increase our supply of the meat and extend the season over time to give Herdwick the shop window it deserves.”
Easter is fast approaching, so indulge in some of these Booths Easter recipes.
Pot Roasted Herdwick Lamb with Chorizo
- 1.5kg Herdwick lamb shoulder
- 200g chorizo
- 400g dried white beans such as cannellini or haricot
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, 4 crushed, 2 finely chopped
- 4-6 fresh bay leaves
- 24 small shallots or 6 onions, peeled
- 2 small sprigs fresh rosemary leaves only
- 1.5tsp smoked paprika
- 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 1tsp caster sugar
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only
- Olive oil
- Black pepper
- Crushed chillies (optional)
How to make
Heat 2 tbsps. olive oil in a large casserole dish. Add half the chopped onion, 2 of the crushed garlic cloves, bay leaves and the optional crushed chillies and stir well.
Cover and cook on a low heat for 10 mins until onions are soft and lightly golden. Add the beans and cold water to just cover them (750ml – 1 litre).
Bring to the boil then lower the heat, part cover and leave to simmer for about 45 mins or until tender.
Meanwhile, heat another 2 tbsp. olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan.
Pat the lamb dry, then fry it on all sides for 6-8 mins until browned.
Set it to one side. Add the chorizo to the pan and fry briskly until lightly coloured.
Set it aside with the lamb. Add the peeled shallots and brown for 6-7 minutes, set aside.
When the lamb is cool enough to handle, make small but deep incisions all over the joint with a small, sharp knife and poke the garlic slivers and rosemary leaves into each one. Then season the joint all over and preheat the oven to 170c / 325f / gas mark 5.
Add a tbsp. of oil to the frying pan with the remaining onion and fry until golden.
Add the remaining 2 crushed garlic cloves, the smoked paprika and cook for 2 mins.
Then stir in the tomatoes and thyme leaves. Bring to a simmer.
Stir the tomatoes, chorizo and browned shallots into the beans with the sugar and some black pepper.
Rest the lamb on top and cover the casserole with some foil and a lid.
Pop into the oven and cook for 1 ½ hours, removing the lid 15-20 mins before the end of the cooking time. This will give you slightly pink, juicy lamb.
If you prefer it a little more done then cook for the full 1 ½ hours and then uncover to cook for a further 20 minutes.
Lift the lamb onto a carving board, wrap closely with foil and leave to rest for 10 minutes.
If the bean sauce is still quite runny, bring them to a simmer on the stove top and just cook gently for a few minutes until the liquid reduces.
Season to taste and remove the bay leaves.
Carve the lamb into generous slices and serve on top of the beans with really creamy and crusty artisan bread and butter on the side.
Spiced Butterflied Leg of Herdwick Lamb
1 leg of Herdwick lamb
2tbsp olive oil
4tbsp Ras El Hanout Spice Mix
1tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
2tbsp ground sumac
1 large handful flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 large bunch fresh mint, chopped
How to make
Melt the butter and mix in a bowl with olive oil. Stir in the Ras El Hanout Spice Mix, thyme, lemon zest and juice, sumac, parsley, mint and grind in plenty of black pepper.
Place the lamb in a large shallow dish, pour over and rub in the marinade.
Cover with cling film and leave to marinate in the fridge overnight.
When ready to cook, light the barbecue and add the lamb (fat side down).
Cook on a fairly high heat for 5 minutes until well browned then turn over and cook for a further 5 minutes to brown the other side.
Move the coals to the sides of the barbecue to reduce the heat under the meat and cook gently for 30 – 40 minutes turning occasionally until you have a crusty golden coating.
Remove the meat from the barbecue and leave to rest for 10 minutes before cutting into thick slices.
If you have to move your barbecue indoors simply preheat the oven to 220˚C / fan 200˚C / gas mark 7.
Place the marinated lamb into a shallow roasting tin and cook on a high heat for 10 – 15 minutes then reduce the temperature to 180˚C / fan 160˚C / gas mark 4 and cook for a further 40 minutes.
Why not serve alongside thick Greek yoghurt, with chopped mint and cucumber stirred through for a cooling sauce.
1 onion, sliced
1tbsp Ras-el-Hanout spice mix
1tbsp tomato puree
300g leftover roast lamb, diced
1 tin chopped tomatoes
500ml lamb stock
100g dried apricots
1 tin chickpeas, drained
1 preserved lemon, diced
1 cinnamon stick
Booths Pomegranate Pearls
How to make
Heat the oil in a medium sized sauce pan. Add the onions and sauté for 5 minutes.
Add the Ras-el-Hanout and cook for 1 minute.
Add the tomato puree and cook for 1 minute.
Add the diced lamb and chopped tomatoes, stir to combine.
Add the lamb stock, apricots, chickpeas, preserved lemon and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 1 hour.
Pour into warmed serving bowls and scatter over the coriander leaves and pomegranate seeds. Serve with cous cous prepared as per instructions on the packet.
Roast Lamb with a Parmesan Crust
2kg leg of Herdwick lamb
Pack Parma ham
3 sprigs rosemary, broken up into small sprigs
2tbsp olive oil
100g fresh breadcrumbs
70g Parmesan cheese, finely grated
300ml white wine
How to make
Preheat the oven to 180°C / fan 160°C / gas mark 4. With a sharp knife, make lots of incisions all over the lamb. Cut the Parma ham into strips and insert the strips into the incisions along with the rosemary sprigs using a knife.
Rub the olive oil all over the lamb, season with salt and ground black pepper then place into a large roasting tin. Mix the breadcrumbs and the Parmesan together in a bowl, then press all over the lamb until it’s completely coated packing it down well with your hands.
Pour the wine into the bottom of the tin, cover the lamb loosely with foil then carefully place into the middle of the preheated oven and roast for 2½ hours. Top up with more wine or water during cooking so the bottom of the tin doesn’t dry out. Remove the foil and roast for a further 10 minutes until the crumb coating is crunchy and golden.
Leave the lamb to rest for 10-15 minutes before carving. Serve with roasted potatoes with red onion and garlic