Douneside House Head Chef Matt Price shares his recipe for Wark Farm hogget
As a chef, there’s a particular pleasure from going into the garden to pick the herbs, vegetables and fruit that you’re about to cook. At Douneside House, head chef Matt Price and his team have an extraordinary selection of produce to choose from.
The four-star hotel in Royal Deeside has 17-acres of glorious gardens, including a walled garden where more than 80 types of organic vegetables, salad leaves, herbs and fruit are grown.
‘The gardens at Douneside are the best I have ever seen,’ says Matt, who has generously provided a seasonal recipe, using homegrown vegetables, for supporters of Scotland’s Gardens Scheme to try.
Matt, aged 34, ensures that the kitchens at Douneside - the only venue in Aberdeenshire with an AA triple rosette award - use the freshest, best quality, local suppliers. His recipe uses hogget from the Hebridean sheep reared at Wark Farm, a 100% organic, closed circuit farm just three miles over the hill at Cushnie.
Hogget (in case you didn’t know) comes from animals aged between one and two years which have been kept at pasture a few months longer than lamb. The meat offers a ‘perfect combination of tenderness and flavour – not as sweet as lamb, nor as gamey as mutton, but packed with flavour.’ Matt says Wark Farm hogget is ‘stunning’ in quality, with marbling similar to Angus beef.
‘It is always worth paying for quality meat. We are aiming for a more sustainable and responsible experience at Douneside, and this is something we are looking to promote – eating less meat but of a better quality is better both economically and environmentally.’
Douneside House is owned and run by the not-for-profit MacRobert Trust. Surplus profit is either reinvested in the estate or donated to charity, with grants totalling about £1 million going to charitable causes each year. Douneside is an Royal Horticultural Society Partner Garden and has a team of four full-time gardeners, supplemented by four to six RHS trainees.
Douneside House, Tarland, AB34 4UL dounesidehouse.co.uk
Douneside has opened for Scotland's Gardens Scheme for over 50 years. Their next open day is on 10 July 2022 in aid of Perennial.
Wark Farm hogget with turnips, peas, bacon and parsley sauce
Ask your butcher to prepare the hogget/lamb as a ‘cannon’. Chill until ready to cook. 500g will serve 4.
Black garlic mustard
100g black garlic
50g Dijon mustard
Blitz with a stick blender, add a little water to achieve a smooth consistency.
Smoked bacon lardons
Slice the bacon into lardons, sauté until crisp. Reserve the fat to cook half the turnips in, see below.
Pickled turnip dice
Use about 4 large Milan turnips (the purple and white ones) if available.
Dice the turnips into 1cm bits. Keep half to sauté, see below.
Take equal quantities of white wine vinegar, sugar and water. Melt the sugar in the water and add to the vinegar.
Place half the turnip dice in the pickling liquor and cook over a very low heat until just tender, but still with a nice bite. Keep in liquid until needed.
Bacon fat turnip dice
Rest of the turnip dice
Streaky bacon fat, reserved from making lardons
Highland extra virgin rapeseed oil
Good sprig of thyme
Pinch of salt
Put the fat, oil, thyme and salt into a saucepan. Add the turnip dice – they should be just covered. Cook very gently over a low heat until just tender. Keep in oil until ready to use.
40g onion, finely sliced
3g garlic, roughly chopped
50g parsley, roughly chopped (thickest stalks removed)
Pinch of salt
In a large pan, sweat the onion and garlic in the butter over a low/medium heat until very soft and sweet, no colour. Add a good pinch of salt, then the milk. Bring to a simmer, then transfer to a blender. Blend hard and add the parsley whilst blending. Pass through a strainer, season and chill until ready to use.
Remove the loin of hogget/lamb from the fridge 30 minutes before cooking. Heat a non-stick frying pan with a little vegetable oil. Season the meat, sear all around, finishing with a little butter, garlic and thyme. Oven-roast if necessary – depends on the size of the meat, but around 2.5 minutes per 100g. Rest for the same amount of time as you cook the meat. Brush with the black garlic mustard.
While the meat is resting, take the pickled and confit turnips, with a little of the pickling juice and the confit oil, and put into a saucepan. Heat through, adding the peas, bacon lardons, chopped parsley and chives – be generous with the herbs! Season, and spoon onto a plate/shallow bowl.
Bring the parsley sauce to a simmer. Carve the hogget/lamb into even slices, place on top of the turnip/bacon mix. Foam the parsley sauce lightly with a stick blender and dress all around the lamb. Serve and enjoy.
Fresh peas (frozen petit pois are fine)