December 31, 2008

Filed under: Northwest European, Reared red meat, Offal, Unusual meat — ros @ 12:55 pm

after several months of not being able to properly access your blog. When I finally opened up my admin page after goodness knows how long, I was pleased and slightly suprised to find some people had linked to me. Of course I was less pleased when I found they’d just been hotlinking my photos. Chuh! :roll:  

Then there were the forty or fifty comments largly made up by spam. Having been there when my spam filter was designed, I know that this spam isn’t made by spam robots as it used to be. There are apparently now many hundreds of trained spam monkeys trawling the internet and leaving badly disguised links to their websites, masqueraduing as gushingly complementary comments.  

Anyay, yes, hello, I’m back, at least temporarily. I still don’t have a real computer. Just a laptop with a screen I can barely read and no keyboard. Thank God the boredom of the Christmas holidays has finally forced me into typing on a barely functioning USB device to update this poor, neglected website. So now I can tell you about my recipe for sheep.

No, of course I couldn’t eat a whole one. Not in one go anyway. But this dish includes a fair number of sheep consituents.

sheep dish with offal

Towards the end of August, I went to the Covent Garden Night Market specifically to see Fergus Hendrson perform on their stage kitchen. Softly spoken and slightly awkward in front of the large audience, he was a far cry from what you’d expect from a ‘celebrity chef’, yet he conveyed his passion for good cooking and ingredients better than any popular household name. Two things in particular stick in my mind. The first is his assertion that recipes are merely guides, not rules, for a genuinely good cook. The second is what I have come to hold high in my list of cooking commandments:

Love Thy Butcher

According to Henderson, if you find a butcher worthy of your custom and let them know how much you love them, you can expect great things. In his case, he got pig trotters. I was after sonething slightly different.

I was expecting a negative reaction clutching my short but unusual shopping list but the gentlemen at H G Walters barely batted an eyelid when I handed them the piece of paper. One veal kidney, some lamb sweetbreads and two lamb tongues would apparently be no problem.The two latter ingredients were destined for a recipe that held my fascination for some time: lamb rack with sauteed tongue and sweetbreads.

The original recipe, from the first series of ‘The Great British Menu,’ had obviously been created in the summer and required fresh broadbeans and samphire. I made do with defrosted peas but otherwise the ideas are largely unchanged. 

Sheep Feast (Rack of Lamb with sauteed tongue, sweetbreads and peas)

For Two People

  • 1 large rack of lamb (wih about 6 rib bones in)
  • 2 lamb tongues
  • 350g lamb sweetbreads
  • 2 handfuls of peas, fresh or defrosted
  • 200ml fresh lamb stock
  • unsalted butter- around 30g
  • salt and pepper
  • parsley to garnish
  1. Prepare the sweetbreads: If they’re frozen, allow them to defrost. My butchers say that if you’re short on time, let them sit it some warm water to speed this up. Then soak them in cold water in the fridge for two hours.
  2. Drain the sweetbreads. Bring a pa of water to the boil. Drop in the sweetbreads, bring back to the boil. Drain immediately and refresh in cold water. When they’re cool, peel off the tough outer membrane, then pop them in the fridge until ready to cook.
  3. Prepare the tongues: Place in cold water and brinng to the boil. Simmer until tender (around 1 hour 15 minutes). Remove from the heat and allow to cool in the cooking liquid.
  4. Roast the rack of lamb as you norally would. I brushed mine with olive oil, seasoned and roasted it in a preheated oven at gas mark 6 for15 minutes This gave me pleasantly rare meat. Wrap in foil and leave to rest.
  5. While the lamb is roasting/resting, cook the peas in boiling water then drain.
  6. Pat the sweetbreads dry and dust them with the seasoned flour. Heat half the butter in a frying pan and when it is foaming add the swweetbreads and fry until golden brown on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  7. Drain the tongues and cut in half. Sautee on both sides auntil golden brown.
  8. Add the sweetbreads, stock and peas to the pan Simmer together for a few minutes.
  9. Cut the lamb rack into cutlets and serve with the peas and sweetbread mixture. Garnish with parsely. Minted new potatoes made a good accompaniment to this.


All in all a good recipe. The slighly diappointing thing for me is that the sweetbreads weret te crispy type I’ve had before. Perhaps that is easier to achieve with calf sweetbrads. Still, the flavour was good and I imagine that if I’d had a chance to get my hands on some samphire, it would have been even better. Incidentally, lamb sweetbreads are CHEAP. Excellent value for money if you have a good butcher that can order them for you. The most expensive part of this meal was the lamb rack but, given the quality it was well worth it. 

Happy New Year, everyone!


  1. Hello! Happy new year! Glad to have you back.

    I know what you mean about the picture thieves, I’ve taken to leaving rude comments on their sites but I really should get round to watermarking photographs.

    I love the sound of this dish, I’ve been seeing this kind of thing a lot lately: dishes made up of more than one cut and I think it’s a great way of cooking.

    H G Walter is great isn’t it, a little too far for me now I no longer work out that way.

    Comment by Ginger — December 31, 2008 @ 1:30 pm

  2. Hey Ros: Happy New Year to you! Good to see your blog back. I’m not much of a cook myself, but I can drool with the best of them over your lavish preparations and recipes and photos. Meanwhile, why don’t you check out this recipe and let me know if it’s as great as it’s touted to be in the book! :-)

    Comment by Fëanor — December 31, 2008 @ 2:21 pm

  3. Good to see you posting again, Ros. Over Christmas dad took us all to the local farm where he gets his lamb and pork and we were shown round the pig pens. This definitely counts as Love Thy Butcher. He got free trotters last time he was there buying sausages and rolled loin.

    Happy New Year to you and wishing you grand feasting in 2009.

    Comment by Trig — December 31, 2008 @ 7:18 pm

  4. Welcome back Ros! It’s great to see some offal there in your dish. I think Fergus is brilliant too and I love both tongue and sweetbreads. How excellent that you have a decent butcher. Here’s to more meat feasting in 2009!

    Comment by Helen — January 1, 2009 @ 1:01 pm

  5. Hi Ginger. I’ve thought about watermarking my pictures but I never thought anyone would particularly want to steal them until now. I honestly don’t understand what it is with content thieves. Do you still want a list of HAmmersmith restaurants? Sorry for not getting around to e-mailing you before.

    Feanor, I think you’ve just reminded me of why I haven’t read any fiction in years! What narrative!

    Trig, what did your Dad do with the trotters? The dishes Fergus Henderson described on stage were gorgeous but took a long time to make. Still, it could be a good Easter Holiday project.

    Helen, I have a list of offal recipes I had stocked up which I couldn’t try due to a lack of a good butcher last year. Tongue and tail is next on the list with the tongue sitting in my slow cooker right now. :)

    Comment by ros — January 5, 2009 @ 2:46 pm

  6. I asked him earlier and apparently he cooked this:
    which he reckoned put about half a stone on his weight.

    Comment by Trig — January 6, 2009 @ 11:41 pm

  7. Happy New Year (rather belatedly!!) Nice to see you are alive and kicking. Smappers and content thieves - uurrrggh, don’t get me started! Thoe other day somebody whom I thought was a friend hotlinked to my picture with no hint of credit to me and when I pointed it out to her she disappeared from my comments in a huff!!

    I love tongue but have only ever had beef - would love to try sheep…

    Comment by Jeanne — January 26, 2009 @ 7:17 pm

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