Mutton neck with onions and dumplings
Neck really is the best cut for a dish like this, or an Irish stew. It contains a good amount of natural marbled fat to keep it nice and moist during cooking.
500g-600g neck of mutton, cut into 3-4in chunks
4 medium sized onions
1.5 litres chicken or lamb stock
2tbsp chopped parsley
For the dumplings
120g minced mutton or lamb
60g fresh white breadcrumbs
2tbsp chopped chives
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place the chunks of mutton in a pan, just cover them with water, bring to the boil, then drain and rinse them under the cold tap. Clean the pan, put the mutton back in and pour in the stock. Place the whole onions in their skins in the pan, season, bring to the boil and simmer gently for one hour.
Remove the onions and continue simmering for another 30 minutes or so, or until the mutton is tender.
Meanwhile, mix the minced mutton with the other ingredients and season. Mould into 12 even-sized balls, place in a saucepan, cover with some of the mutton’s cooking liquid and simmer gently for five to six minutes. Next, halve the onions and carefully remove their skins.
To serve, mix all of the ingredients together in a pan, add the parsley, re-season if necessary, then serve in either a communal serving dish or in individual warmed bowls.
You can make this dish as spicy as you wish by adding more chilli. Once you’ve roasted the spices, you can keep them in a kilner jar for another time.
For the roasted curry powder (about 100g)
1tbsp fenugreek seeds
1tbsp fennel seeds
1tbsp fenugreek leaves
1tbsp cumin seeds
1tsp ground cinnamon
1tbsp dried chilli
½ tbsp caraway seeds
½ tbsp nigella seeds
1tbsp ground coriander
1tbsp mustard seeds
½ tbsp podded cardamon seeds
1tbsp ground cumin
Grind all the spices, except the ground cumin, cinnamon and coriander, in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle. Mix with the already ground spices and sprinkle them into a heavy-bottomed frying pan. Cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly and not letting them burn, until they turn dark brown. Transfer to a plate and leave to cool, then store in a sealed jar.
12 mutton chops or cutlets
2-3tbsp natural yoghurt
2 medium red onions, peeled and finely chopped
3 medium cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
A small piece of root ginger, scraped and finely grated
1-2 red chillies, finely chopped
A good pinch of saffron
A good pinch of curry leaves
75g ghee (or a half-oil, half-butter mix)
2tbsp roasted curry powder (see above)
1tbsp tomato purée
500ml lamb or beef stock (one made from a good cube is fine)
2-3tbsp chopped coriander
Marinate the chops in the yoghurt for a couple of hours. Meanwhile, gently cook the onion, garlic, ginger, chillies, saffron and curry leaves in two-thirds of the ghee for three to four minutes until soft. Add the curry powder and tomato purée and stir well. Add the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes.
Blend half of the sauce in a liquidiser until smooth, then strain it through a fine-meshed sieve into a clean pan, pushing as much through the sieve as possible.
Return to a low heat and simmer until the sauce has reduced and thickened. Heat the remaining ghee in a frying pan, remove the excess yoghurt from the chops and season. Fry them until lightly coloured. Pour the sauce in and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with basmati rice and scatter with the coriander.
Mark Hix’s ‘Seasonal Food’ is available from Quadrille at £25
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