Everywhere you look in the Lake District, there are sheep. They're adorable! Back in the states, I thought there were just two kinds of sheep: black ... and white. The National Sheep Association (UK) website lists 85 breeds. Who knew?
Now I know next to nothing about sheep farming and assumed that while a few lambs may be sold for Easter dinners, lucrative earnings come from the sale of fleece. I still know next to nothing about sheep farming but I've recently learned that farmers "will get an average of £1 per fleece, which for the first time in years will cover a farmer’s shearing costs." I'm guessing the sale of lambs for meat is far more profitable.
To honor those Cumbrian sheep farmers, today's dinner is prepared using a recipe that calls for lamb, black pudding, and potatoes: Tatie Pot.
Now if you haven't heard of black pudding, I urge you to google it first so you know what you're getting into. I bought a package of "Real Lancashire Black Pudding" (as small a package as I could - 250g - and even then only used 1/4 of it).
The original recipe also calls for "middle neck of lamb cut into chunks" - I wish it wasn't quite so graphic. I selected a benign "lamb neck fillet" from Booths deli and pretended it was something else.
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 1 hour, 45 minutes
300g lamb neck fillet
60g black pudding
1 bunch fresh thyme
1 red onion
1 tbsp sunflower oil
1 cup chicken stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Cut the fillet into bite-sized chunks.
Cut the black pudding into littler chunks.
Collect thyme from the garden and snip it to fine bits.
Mince the onion.
2. Put it together
Coat the bottom of a casserole dish with oil and add lamb, black pudding, onion, bayleaf, thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Add stock.
Arrange the potato slices on top, overlapping them like slates on a roof. If desired, add a few bits of butter on top.
Cover with foil and cook in the preheated oven for about 60 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for a further 45 minutes until browned on top.
4. Serve with pickled red cabbage (as per tradition).
I know you're wondering. Did we actually eat it? Yes, we did. The flavors were quite strong and the meaty smell of the stew hung in the air for a day or so (it seemed) but it was good. The pickled red cabbage cut the heaviness and complemented the casserole quite nicely. I'm not sure that I'd make it again but it was definitely worth trying once.