Last month, FOODLOVER caught up with the Richards, a Dorset family that has tended to the land around Kingston Lacy for 150 years to find out about food, farming and making the most of some gorgeous spring lamb. Pamphill Dairy is a farm shop, butchers and parlour café. Originally a milking site, the Richards converted Pamphill in the 1980s to make it the much-loved hub for authentic Dorset produce it is today, proudly supporting local businesses and is called home to a variety of on-site artisans.
Fresh ingredients, straight from farm to plate
Spring lamb is available from early spring until the summer. It’s very tender and is lighter in flavour than autumn lamb as it hasn’t had as much time to graze. If you’re not a fan of very flavoursome lamb, then spring lamb is the best type for you. The best cuts of lamb depend on the cooking method; for roasts, the best cuts are leg, rack of lamb and rump. Whereas if you’re looking for something to pop in the oven to cook low and slow we recommend going for shoulder, breast and shanks.
Butcher’s tips for prepping lamb
Go for bone in cuts wherever possible; the bone adds flavour and keeps the meat tender and helps prevent it from drying out. Rest your lamb after cooking to let the juices redistribute inside the meat and keeps it moist and juicy. You can eat lamb from rare to well done so work out how you like your meat and tweak the cooking times accordingly.
Let’s get cooking
Our favourite way to cook lamb is low and slow. This is what will result in a crispy skin and tender, fall-apart meat. We’d recommend using a shoulder for this, but you can also do it with a leg too.
2kg shoulder of lamb
2 onions, sliced
3 carrots, sliced
2 celery sticks, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
For the marinade:
6 cloves of garlic
Zest of 1 lemon
Bunch of rosemary, remove the stalk and discard
Third cup of olive oil
- For a shoulder of lamb this size, preheat the oven to the highest it will go.
- First make a marinade for the outside of the meat; in a blender add the garlic, lemon zest, the rosemary, anchovies, olive oil and plenty of cracked black pepper. The anchovies act as salt in this marinade, so you don’t need to add any extra salt.
- Using a sharp knife, score the outside of the lamb and get stuck in rubbing the marinade in really well, pushing it into the score marks.
- Place the onions, carrots, celery sticks, garlic and add to the base of the roasting tin with any leftover rosemary and some fresh thyme. Pour a couple of glasses of water into the tin and place the lamb on top of the vegetable base. This base will form your gravy so it’s important you add the water so the veg doesn’t burn. Tightly cover the tin with foil.
- Put the roasting tin in the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 170C/Gas 3 and cook for around 4 hours, you’ll know it’s done when you can pull the meat apart with two forks and it has a pulled pork consistency. We like to take the foil off for the last 30 minutes to allow the skin to really crisp up.
- Take the lamb out and rest it under some foil for 20 minutes. while it’s resting use the vegetables and pan juices to make your gravy. Using a stick blender blitz up the vegetable mix to thicken, adding some stock if you need more liquid, or flour if it looks too loose.
- Get creative with adding flavouring and tastes as you go; a bit of mint sauce, some cranberry jelly, Worcestershire sauce, fresh herbs and roasted garlic are all great elements you could trial adding in.
Words and recipe from the folks at Pamphill, for more details visit www.pamphilldairy.co.uk