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The only lamb cuts guide you’ll ever need: how to choose and cook your cuts

21st March 2018

The ultimate lamb cuts guide – so you’ll never be stumped on what’s available or how to cook a cut again.

The only lamb cuts guide you’ll ever need: how to choose and cook cuts

With Easter Sunday fast approaching, it’s time to think about the big feast, the spring equivalent to Christmas lunch. Instead of sticking to the same old fail-safe lamb joint, discover the world of nose-to-tail cooking with your new favourite cut.

When it comes to choosing the perfect cut, price doesn’t necessarily reflect the best. In fact, cuts that include a large amount of bone can be the most flavoursome and tender. This is thanks to collagen and marrow released from the bone in cooking, which tenderises and flavours the meat.

Unfortunately, nose-to-tail cooking has fallen out of fashion at home, with many of us opting for the same old faithful lamb leg joint for our Sunday roast.

Trust us, you’re missing out. Here’s our guide to finding the perfect lamb cut for every occasion (and you might even save yourself a quid or two too).

The ultimate lamb cuts guide

Lamb shank

The only lamb cuts guide you’ll ever need: how to choose and cook cuts

Best for: Slow cooking

The shank is a meaty cut from the lower end of the lamb leg. Excellent for slow cooking, it’s great value. The bone running through the centre provides a lot of the flavour, releasing collagen as the joint cooks and tenderising the flesh. 

How to cook lamb shank

Shanks need low and slow cooking to achieve meltingly tender meat that falls off the bone. The rich meat can handle a good amount of flavour, so be bold.

For delicious red wine braised shanks, dust the shanks in flour then brown in a hot pan before roasting in a low oven with carrots, celery, onions, herbs and plenty of red wine.

For a bold take on a Moroccan tagine, marinade the shanks in a ground spice rub of cumin, coriander, ginger, paprika, before stewing in plenty of passata, preserved lemons, apricots and saffron. Serve with flaked almonds, fresh coriander and fluffy couscous. Or try Skye Gygnell’s zero-waste lamb shank recipe.

How much to get

1 lamb shank will serve 1–2 people.

Lamb leg and lamb steaks

The only lamb cuts guide you’ll ever need: how to choose and cook cuts

Leg best for: roasting

Leg steaks best for: quick cooking

Everyone’s favourite Easter Sunday roasting joint, lamb leg is popular due to it’s dark, melt-in-the-mouth meat and high meat-to-bone ratio, making this one easy to carve at the dinner table.

How to cook a lamb leg

You can keep things simple by slowly roasting the leg whole, studded with garlic and rosemary, for dark, tender meat.

For a centrepiece with a difference, try a sweet, nutty stuffing and drizzle over homemade Romesco sauce as in our super simple recipe.

How to cook lamb steaks

If you’re stuck for time and looking for a quicker supper, lamb leg steaks are a wonderful lean cut, each with a portion of bone in to keep the meat wonderfully juicy when cooked. Griddle or pan fry for 3–5 minutes on each side for medium-rare meat, or longer if you like it well done.

How much to get

1kg leg of lamb will serve 4–6 people.

Allow 1 x 225g lamb leg steak per person.

Lamb rump

The only lamb cuts guide you’ll ever need: how to choose and cook cuts

Best for: Quick cooking

Also known as leg chops, this cut is really versatile and is mid-priced.

Lamb rump

Best for: quick roast

Also referred to as chump, rump comes from the back side of the lamb where the top of the leg meets the loin. It’s a plump yet lean cut, with a generous layer of fat to keep the meat juicy. Unlike beef rump, lamb rump isn’t quite as popular, but it definitely should be.

How to cook lamb rump

Boneless rump/chump steak

The only lamb cuts guide you’ll ever need: how to choose and cook cuts

Herb crusting is a great way to retain moisture in leaner lamb cuts and works a dream with lamb rump/chump steak. Blitz woody herbs such as rosemary and thyme with garlic and homemade breadcrumbs until course. Brown the steaks in a hot pan then brush with mustard and roll in your herb crust. Roast in the oven until slightly pink in the middle (about 15–20 minutes) and rest for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

Bone-in chump chops

The only lamb cuts guide you’ll ever need: how to choose and cook cuts

Unlike the boneless steaks, chump chops contain bone so need slightly longer cooking. Rub with oil and fresh chopped herbs like mint and parsley then oven bake until crisp and golden brown for about 30–45 minutes, depending on the size of your chops.

Both kinds of lamb chops and steaks are ideal for barbecuing and need no more than a drizzle of oil and seasoning before hitting the coals for perfect, smokey meat.

How much to get

1 x 250g lamb rump/chump steak per person

1 x 350g lamb chump chop (with bone) per person

Lamb loin

The only lamb cuts guide you’ll ever need: how to choose and cook cuts

Loin best for: roasting

Chops best for: quick frying or grilling

Taken from the top of the back, the loin is a prized cut of lamb due to the super tender meat. It’s an ideal cut for roasting, however, as it doesn’t have a layer of fat for protection, care must be taken not to overcook. The loin comes in different cuts:

Rolled lamb loin (also known as saddle)

Loin chops (chunky and boneless)

Barnsley chops (effectively two loin chops in one or a double-sided chop cut across the whole loin with the bone)

Noisettes (smaller medallions of lamb loin wrapped in a thin layer of fat with no bone)

How to cook lamb loin

Rolled lamb loin

The only lamb cuts guide you’ll ever need: how to choose and cook cuts
Also known as a saddle of lamb, rolled lamb loin makes for a great family roast. The loin of lamb is a tender and prized cut of the animal as it’s from an area where the meat has worked the least – making it an ideal cut for roasting. However take care not to overcook – it should be served pink in the middle.

You can also stuff it, which soaks up the roasting juices from the lamb whilst cooking. Put seasoned lamb on a rack in a roasting pan and roast in middle of oven 30 to 40 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reads 50°C for medium-rare/ 55°C for medium. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

Loin chop and Barnsley chop

The only lamb cuts guide you’ll ever need: how to choose and cook cuts

As with rump, lamb loin chops are wonderful cooked on the bbq, smothered in a herby, garlic marinade. The Barnsley chop (named as it’s believed to have originated in a hotel in Barnsley) needs slightly longer cooking than a regular chop, so try roasting in the oven with a bottom layer of onions, celery and carrot for 10–15 minutes before finishing off on the BBQ for that smokey flavour.


The only lamb cuts guide you’ll ever need: how to choose and cook cuts

Noisettes make a elegant dinner party option. Wrap each noisette in parma ham, then fry in a pan to crisp up and finish in the oven for 15–20 minutes. Serve with gratin Dauphinoise and wilted seasonal greens.

How much to get

1 x 220g loin chop or 1 x 250g barnsley chop per hungry person

1–2 noisettes per person

Rack of lamb

The only lamb cuts guide you’ll ever need: how to choose and cook cuts

Best for: quick roasting or grilling

Taken from the lamb rib, the rack is an impressive all rounder. It’s super quick to cook, easy to achieve perfectly crisp skin and tender, melt-in-the-mouth flesh. The cutlets are individual rib steaks taken from the rack at the top of the animal and look beautiful on the plate.

How to cook a rack of lamb

Unlike some fattier cuts, the rack is light and delicate, so needs a light dressing to avoid overpowering the flavours of the meat. Lightly score the fat then sear on each side in a hot pan until golden brown before finishing in the oven. Serve drizzled with mint sauce or atop a lightly dressed Spring salad. You can also crust the rack with a herby mixture as with the rump (see above).

Lamb cutlets

Cutlets are a perfect quick cook cut and benefit from light cooking such as on the BBQ, grill or griddle. Dress with lemon and olive oil and eat like lollipops.

How much to get

1 rack of lamb containing 4 cutlets (around 560g) will serve 2 people

1–2 individual cutlets per person


The only lamb cuts guide you’ll ever need: how to choose and cook cuts

Best for: slow roasting

Lamb breast is a value cut that is often underused as it has quite a lot of fat and can be tough if cooked incorrectly. Treat as you would pork belly  –  the layer of fat brings oodles of flavour and helps to tenderise the meat as it cooks.

How to cook lamb breast

Rolled lamb breast

For perfect rolled lamb breast (also know as ‘rack of ribs’), brown on each side in a hot pan then roast low and slow on a bed of shallots. This cut can handle a good dose of flavour, so whip up your own wild garlic and lemon oil and drizzle over juicy rings of lamb breast. Check out our recipe.

Lamb ribs (or riblets)

Also known as riblets, these are one of the most delicious ways of eating lamb, and certainly the least expensive. For the best spare ribs you’ll eat, marinate them for an hour or so in a Moroccan style spice mix of  ground cumin, coriander seeds, some lemon zest and chilli. Cook long and slow for 2 hours at 140C in the oven, then cut into individual ribs. Add a glaze of pomegranate molasses or honey, and cook for 15 mins at 180C to get them deliciously sticky.

How much to get

700g lamb breast will serve 4 people

Allow 6 lamb ribs per person.

Lamb shoulder

The only lamb cuts guide you’ll ever need: how to choose and cook cuts

Best for: slow roasting

This large cut from the top front leg of the lamb has lots of lean juicy meat. The bone and generous marbling help keep the meat juicy and the flavour intense.

How to cook lamb shoulder

Create your own pulled lamb by marinating a whole shoulder of lamb with garlic, chilli, paprika and cumin. Wrap in foil and cook slowly until the meat pulls away from the bone with a fork. Serve stuffed into bread buns, flatbreads or use as a stuffing for filo pastry pasties.

How much to get

2kg of lamb shoulder will serve 6–8 people

Lamb neck

The only lamb cuts guide you’ll ever need: how to choose and cook cuts

Best for: slow cooking

The neck fillet is often underrated. It’s inexpensive as it takes a little longer to cook than other popular cuts — but it’s the marbling through the cut that gives all the flavour.

How to cook lamb neck

Lamb neck can be cooked whole, long and slow to ensure tender meat.

You can also chop the neck into chunks and brown off for use in stews and curries. Marinade the cubes of neck in a rub of ground coriander, cumin, sumac and chilli before pushing onto skewers and flaming over the BBQ for wonderful homemade kebab. Serve with hummus and warm wood fired pita bread.

How much to get

1 lamb neck fillet (350–400g) will serve 2 people

What to look out for when buying lamb

The most important thing to watch out for is the quality of the animal — always buy outdoor reared, grass fed meat from a reputable farm for the best meat. The bones should be slightly pink in colour and the fat quite dry and crumbly. As a rule of thumb, the darker the colour of meat, the older the animal — young lamb will be pale pink and older lamb pinkish-red.

Cooking tips for lamb

Always bring meat to room temperature before cooking to allow perfectly cooked meat throughout. You can serve lamb a little bit pink – when cooked the meat should always look moist and juicy, but never bloody.

Our lambs are born in spring as nature intended; arriving into the world with the first nip of luscious pasture growth.

Every time you buy from us, you directly help the recovery of wildlife, help to build soils and take carbon out of the atmosphere. Discover our British lamb and pre-order your Easter feast now at

Find out why ‘new season’ spring lamb is myth and why Farmdrop pays British farmers double what they get in the supermarkets.


Cook once, eat all week: A lamb shank leftover dish with a difference by Skye Gyngell

20th March 2018

Spring supremo Skye Gyngell cooks up a clever lamb shank dish that uses up the week’s leftovers and tastes no less delicious as a result.

This week also sees the launch of the One Planet Plate campaign – a restaurant movement that puts sustainability the menu via top chefs such as Skye.

Spring chef Skye Gyngell. Photo: Carol Sachs.

The original premise for Cook Once, Eat All Week was to provide one hero recipe and three resourceful ideas for using up the leftovers. This month, though, we have something a little different for you, as chef Skye Gyngell twists the idea to provide one hero recipe conjured from three traditionally leftover ingredients. We hope you agree that it is an exception worth making.

Originally from Australia and having trained in kitchens across Europe, Skye Gyngell came to prominence at Petersham Nurseries, where against all odds she won a Michelin star for the irresistibly dishevelled Richmond cafe (wooden floors and wobbly tables and all). Around the same time, Skye also served as The Independent on Sunday’s food columnist and has subsequently released four cookbooks.

Since 2014, she has been at the pass of her Somerset House restaurant, Spring, set inside a 19th Century drawing room in the venue’s New Wing. Here she has free reign to develop daily-changing dishes straight from the Skye Gyngell playbook of seasonal, wholesome, homespun cooking.

The dining room of Skye’s restaurant Spring at Somerset House. Photo: Amber Rowlands.

As well as earning great reviews for the food, Spring has won plaudits for its commitment to sustainability, too. The restaurant’s ‘Scratch Menu’ — available between 5 and 6pm daily — features dishes comprised entirely of offcuts and scraps and at £20 for three courses is priced accordingly.

Which brings us nicely to this month’s recipe; a gorgeous lamb shank dish seen frequently on Spring’s Scratch Menu and perfect for whipping up over a cold Sunday afternoon.

As for how you get the leftover potato skins, broccoli stems and lamb shank in the first place, we’ll leave that up to your own culinary imaginations.

Slow cooked lamb shank, potato skin mash and broccoli tops

Step into spring with Skye's lamb shank leftover dish. Photo: Natale Towell.

Step into spring with Skye’s lamb shank leftover dish. Photo: Natale Towell.

Skye Gyngell: “At Spring, we often grill beautiful legs of lamb from Daphne at Elwee Valley farm. Once we have broken down the lamb legs we always have the shank left over which is difficult grill. It’s such a beautiful succulent tender part of the leg that rather than discarding it, we slow cook it and serve it on the Scratch menu.”

Serves 4


4 lamb shanks

1 dried chilli crumbled

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

5 stalks of oregano or marjoram

1 teaspoon of toasted, ground fennel seeds

3 glasses of dry white wine


1. Preheat the oven to 180C.

2. Place a pan, large enough to hold all the shanks, over a medium heat. Add a little olive oil to the pan. Season the shanks generously all over with sea salt and a little freshly milled black pepper.

3.Once the pan is hot, add the shanks and brown well all over. Once brown, remove from the pan and transfer to a roasting tray.

4. Pour off the fat from the pan, turn the heat down slightly and deglaze the plan with the wine.

5. Pour the wine and pan juices over the lamb ensuring it is submerged. Scatter over the fennel seeds, marjoram, chilli and garlic and cover with foil.

6. Place on the middle shelf of the oven and cook for 20 minutes then turn down the heat to 160C and cook for a further 1.5 hours by which time the meat should be sticky, very tender and deeply flavoured. Cook uncovered for a final 20 minutes. Remove from the oven.

Slow cooked broccoli tops

I find the most delicious part of the broccoli is its stems. Sometimes the ends can be a little woody but cooking for a good amount of time tenderises them.


A couple of handfuls of broccoli stems

A little dried chilli

2 anchovies

A knob of butter

1 x clove of garlic, crushed


1. Place a pot of well salted water on to boil. Once boiling, drop in the broccoli stems and blanch for 2 minutes. Strain and once cool enough to handle chop into little pieces.

2. Place a pan large enough to hold the broccoli over medium heat, add the butter and a glug of extra virgin olive oil – then add the anchovy, chilli and garlic and stir well to combine. Add the broccoli stems and stir together.

3. Turn the heat to low, place a lid on the pan and cook for 35-40 mins, stirring occasionally.

Potato skin mash

Skye Gyngell: “I tend to use a little paring knife to peel potatoes rather than a peeler, being left handed I find it easier and it is a habit I’ve gotten into over the years that I haven’t changed. Peeling potatoes this way takes off more flesh than using a peeler. I love the flavour in potato skins and we often turn them into this mash. We make butter at work so we always have left over buttermilk to hand but you can use regular milk if you don’t have buttermilk.”


300g potato skins

80ml mild buttermilk

Small knob of butter

Sea salt

Plenty of freshly ground black pepper


1. Make sure you have scrubbed the potato skins well before peeling. Peel using a small sharp knife allowing a little flesh to remain attached to the skins.

2. Place in a pan and add enough water just to cover. Season with a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil then turn the heat down slightly and simmer until tender (approx 20 minutes). Strain.

3. Gently warm the buttermilk and butter together in a small saucepan. Once the milk is warm and the butter melted pour over the strained potatoes and mash until smooth. Season with a little salt and plenty of pepper.

Skyes extra tips for using up leftovers: 

Use leftover porridge oats as the base for a sourdough.

Juice the pods of peas for a refreshing morning drink.

Pickle leftover vegetables.

Slow-cook the tops and stalks of veg.

Skye is one of many top chefs supporting the One Planet Plate campaign – a restaurant movement that puts sustainability and zero-waste on the menu via chefs worldwide showing how food can help us live better. Check our their website or Instagram for more sustainable recipe inspiration and to find a plate near you.

Discover more top chef food waste fighting recipes by Massimo Bottura of the three Michelin-starred Osteria Francescana, Chantelle Nicholson of Tredwells and Freddie Bird of Lido Bristol.

Meet the cult chefs taking Instagram by storm and slow-cooker perfect recipes from London’s top chefs.

Cooking DIY Pantry

A DIY guide to dairy-free milk

14th March 2018

Oat and sesame, almond and coconut – dairy-free milk is fast becoming a fridge staple. But how tasty are they really? And how easy are they to make yourself at home? Food writer and DIY pantry regular, Malou Herkes, reveals all.

A DIY guide to making dairy-free milk at home

Which one will be your new go-to alt milk? Photo: Natale Towell.

Dairy-free milk: a real alternative to cow’s milk?

Cow’s milk alternatives are evermore popular these days. A rise in lactose intolerance and vegan diets probably has a lot to do with it, they can be cheap to make and they offer something new by way of flavour (coconut-milk pancakes or pistachio-milk smoothies are arguably much tastier than dairy milk!). There’s also something to say for the ease of turning a pantry staple into something resembling cow’s milk, which you can use in much the same way in the kitchen – think pancakes or smoothies, soups or curries, even lattes (although I wouldn’t recommend builder’s tea).

On the other hand, alternatives they are. If you’re looking for something that will taste just like cow’s milk, you might find yourself hard done by. Nutritionists stress, too, that dairy alternatives are often packed with sugar, and can fail to provide the calcium and essential fats that kids need as they grow. Still, as an adult and as part of a balanced diet, non-dairy milks have their place.  

Additive and sweetener-free

Mylkman make rich, creamy almond, cashew, pistachio and oat blends from their kitchen in London, without all the additives and sweeteners you might find in the usual shop-bought versions. Making them yourself at home is also very simple, and you don’t need a cupboard-full of fancy equipment to do it – just a high-speed blender and a piece of muslin or cheesecloth will do. When it comes to nut, sesame and oat, you’ll need to soak them beforehand, but otherwise the formula is always the same – add your basic ingredient to a blender, add water, blitz well, then strain. Easy!

The water ratios here are given as a guide. The more water you add, the more diluted your milk will be, and the less you add, the more concentrated, so play around and see what you prefer. Most milks will keep for a good few days in the fridge, and don’t worry if they separate – just give them a good shake before use.

How to make alternative, dairy-free milk

Oat Milk

A DIY guide to making dairy-free milk at home

Photo: Natale Towell.

Oat milk has a smooth, mild taste, not as sweet as almond or as creamy as coconut milk, making the latter better for making pancakes. Oat milk is probably the nicest to drink straight up, without the bitterness of sesame or the starchy taste of rice, and needs little in the way of sweetner or flavourings, and works well in smoothies, too. Try Mylkman’s chocolatey version, combined with cocoa, agave and coconut.

How to make oat milk

Soak 1 cup of rolled oats in cold water for at least 30 minutes or overnight. Drain and rinse, discarding the soaking water. Blend the oats on high with 3 cups of cold water until smooth, then pour into a muslin or cheesecloth-lined bowl (you can use a nut-bag if you have one), bunch up the cloth and squeeze to strain out the milk. Decant into a clean bottle and store in the fridge for up to about five days.

Sesame Milk

A DIY guide to making dairy-free milk at home

Photo: Natale Towell.

Sesame milk has a sharper, slightly bitter taste in comparison to other dairy-free milks. Imagine the taste of tahini and you’re not far off. Straight up, sesame milk is an acquired taste (although not terrible!), but blitzed with nut butter and dates into a smoothie, it works well. Unhulled sesame seeds have a higher calcium content, but they’re more bitter than hulled seeds – experiment and see which you prefer.

How to make sesame milk. Soak 1 cup of white sesame seeds in cold water for 2 to 4 hours. Drain and discard the soaking water. Blend the seeds on high with 3 cups of cold water until smooth, then pour into a muslin or cheesecloth-lined bowl (you can use a nut-bag if you have one), bunch up the cloth and squeeze to strain out the milk. Decant into a clean bottle and store in the fridge for up to about five days.

Coconut Milk

A DIY guide to making dairy-free milk at home

Photo: Natale Towell.

Naturally sweet, rich and creamy, this milk is a great one to make at home. No soaking necessary, making coconut milk is simply a matter of blitzing dessicated coconut with hot water, and straining it afterwards. Coconut milk adds delicious depth and flavour to smoothies, pancakes, curries and soups. Keep a stock of dessicated coconut in your storecupboard ready to turn into milk in just 5 minutes.

How to make coconut milk

Place 1 cup of desiccated coconut and 3 cups of hot water into a blender. Leave to soak for 5 minutes or so, then blend on high until smooth. Pour into a muslin or cheesecloth-lined bowl (you can use a nut-bag if you have one), bunch up the cloth and squeeze to strain out the milk. Decant into a clean bottle and store in the fridge for up to about three days.

How to make nut milks

A DIY guide to making dairy-free milk at home

Photo: Natale Towell.

Nut milks are the most popular of dairy-free milks out there, and there’s good reason. You can use pretty much any nut, each offering slightly different flavours and creaminess, depending on what you like. Mylkman’s pistachio version is thick and creamy, mixed with a delicious chai blend of cinnamon, ginger, cloves, black pepper, allspice and cardamom. My experiments set almond milk as a favourite (see my step-by-step guide here), but the same rule applies to any nut. You can also try blending different nuts together – the only difference is in the soaking time.

Rice Milk

A DIY guide to making dairy-free milk at home

Photo: Natale Towell.

Alongside oats, this is the cheapest of milks to make. You have two options: blend either cooked rice or soaked uncooked rice with water. The former is a good way to use up leftover rice, but the results taste like starchy rice water – not great. The latter is a little tastier, especially if you toast the rice grains before soaking them. Some prefer to use brown over white rice, and you can use either – brown rice gives a slightly nuttier, more complex flavour to the end result. Try sweetening with vanilla extract, maple syrup or honey.

How to make rice milk

Toast ½ cup of rice in a dry frying pan for about 4 minutes, or until smelling fragrant, then soak in cold water for 10 hours. Drain and discard the soaking water. Blend the rice on high with 1½ to 2 cups of cold water until smooth, then pour into a muslin or cheesecloth-lined bowl (you can use a nut-bag if you have one), bunch up the cloth and squeeze to strain out the milk. Decant into a clean bottle and store in the fridge for up to about five days.

Check out our guide to homemade almond milk as well how to make apple cider vinegar, an easy mayonnaise, gut-friendly kombucha, a go-to paneer cheese or creamy yoghurt and tahini at home in our DIY Pantry series.

Discover Mylkman’s range of alternative milk at


5 easy ways to eat wild garlic

8th March 2018

You know spring has sprung when the waft of garlic takes over parks and woodland pathways across the country. Wild garlic has a fresh, chive-like taste with that heady hum of mellow garlic and a mustardy twang.

A bunch of Wild Garlic

A tasty alternative bouquet perhaps…?

You can find it in wooded areas (they are a sign of Ancient woodland) from mid-March onwards, and usually you’ll smell it before you see it – so let your nose guide you. Its soft pointed leaves are at its sweetest in early spring. But if you don’t have the time to go out foraging, the green fingered folk at Chegworth Valley forage under the cover of the woods at their 100 acre Kent farm so you don’t have to. Wild garlic is, by nature, organic, so is grown with no harmful chemicals so it’s as natural as can be (and tastes all the better for it).

Once you’ve gathered your bunch and get it back to your kitchen, what to do? Well now’s the real fun part. Its leaves have a much more mellow taste than regular cultivated garlic, meaning it can be enjoyed raw or cooked. You can use both the leaves and the pale root – put your root to tip cooking into practice with our top 5 wild garlic recipes:

1. Wild Garlic Tear & Share Bread

Wild Garlic Tear and Share Bread

Everyone’s favourite Italian side gets a spring makeover. The mellow twang of wild garlic atop freshly baked soft bread is a thing of seasonal eating dreams. Get your friends around and dive into this easy-bake pull apart loaf whilst these leaves are still in season.

2. Asparagus, Mint & Wild Garlic Risotto

Asparagus, Mint & Wild Garlic Risotto

What grows together, goes together. That’s why springtime treasures wild garlic and asparagus are a match made in heaven in this creamy risotto.

3. Wild Garlic Chicken Kiev

Homemade chicken kievs are the ultimate spring comfort dish, made super simple with a few chef tips.

4. Rolled Lamb Breast with Wild Garlic Oil

Treat this slow-cooked, juicy breast of lamb with a fresh and punchy garlicky drizzle.

5. Wild Garlic Pesto 

Wild Garlic Pesto

This foolproof homemade pesto will complete all manner of dishes – stir through your favourite pasta or dot on top of torn bread, local tomatoes and mozzarella for a light and zingy panzanella salad.

1 bunch wild garlic • 2 packs basil • 50g of parmesan • 60g pine nuts • 1 lemon, zest & juice • 60ml rapeseed oil • 20ml olive oil • salt & pepper

In a blender, blitz most of the wild garlic and basil (if eating with pasta leave a handful for later to fold through the pasta at the end) with the grated Parmesan and pine nuts • Add the zest and juice of the lemon, then gradually add the two oils while the blender is on • Taste, adding salt and pepper.

Quick tip: I’d recommend always using two oils when making a pesto as using only olive oil can give it a bitter taste.

How do you use it? Share your tips below!

This article was originally published in May 2017 and has been updated.

Learn how to make a stunning apple cider vinegar, an easy mayonnaise, gut-friendly kombuchacreamy yoghurt and tahini at home in our DIY Pantry series.


How to avoid a soggy bottom, and other top tips from Britain’s pie peddlers

5th March 2018

Now’s the perfect time of year to up your pie game, with a few tips and tricks from a few of Britain’s expert pie makers.

Pie perfection by My Pie.

It’s a tricky thing to get right, a good pie. The pastry in particular – even experienced chefs will admit to sourcing theirs from a wholesaler, ready to roll. I’d urge you to ignore them. Homemade pastry tastes better than what you can buy, even when it all goes to pot.

As much of a challenge as it is, we’re not here to just talk about pastry. Rather, a few tips and tricks, with the help of a few pie makers who know their stuff, to help you up your pie game as a whole. Get ready to bake it ‘til you make it.

Test your metal (pie case)

The authentic Melton Mowbray pork pie by Hartland Pies.

‘Over the many years of making pies,’ says Ian Hartland of Hartland Pies, ‘a few things always crop up. “My hands are too warm to make a good pastry”, “which beer should I drink it with”, and – here’s the big one – ‘“will it have a soggy bottom?” For the home baker, Mary Berry’s famous words elicit pure dread. Probably because it’s such an easy mistake to make – a warm filling, a dish or tin poorly conductive of heat, or an oven set to too low a temperature will do that.

The solution? There be many, from making sure your filling’s cool, to heating up a pizza stone on which to place your pie tin. But the main thing is making sure the exterior has a chance to warm up before the fat in pastry melts. You want to bring the heat, in other words. One of the best ways to ensure this, as Ian says, is to ‘always use a good metal pie tin.’

A highly curious (pastry) case

“Romans would use meats and fish as the filling, with a mixture of flour, oil and water to keep it in place” say Amanda Jalland of Brockley’s Pies (pictured).

But the soggy bottom conundrum is all irrelevant if you haven’t, ahem, got a bottom in the first place. It’s a debate that has gripped the British public for years – how do we define this cultural item we’re so proud of? Does a pie require a bottom, or doesn’t it? Could a pie not fully encased in pastry be legitimately called a pie, or is that a bad way of describing a casserole with a lid? When consternation was at its peak, a petition on these very grounds made it halfway to parliament.

Amanda Jalland, from Brockleby’s Pies also based in Melton Mowbray, official home of the protected status pork pie, says a pie should be, as it has historically been, a full pastry shell containing the filling. ‘Romans would use meats and fish as the filling, with a mixture of flour, oil and water to keep it in place,’ she says. ‘The pastry was inedible, designed to be thrown away.’

Indeed, the pastry’s purpose was originally intended to make the filling easily portable. Puritans will stick to its roots, but some of today’s pie makers, like Ian, aren’t quite so bothered. ‘We’ll never be too hung up on the bottom or no bottom thing. Let’s have the pie eaters have the final say.’

In crust we trust

How to avoid a soggy bottom and other top tips from Britain’s pie peddlers

Lovett Pie’s certainly don’t scrimp on filling.

Alright, so a pie could be what you make it. As far as presentation and texture is concerned, though, this still doesn’t mean you can skip a good crust. Pastry is notoriously difficult to get right, but when you do, is oh so satisfying. The main problem, says Chris Brumby, founder of London street-side pie-slingers MyPie, is that we often don’t realise how delicate and not to be trifled with the gluten within flour really is.

‘Rolling it and re-rolling it, lots of people don’t respect their pastry,’ says Chris. ‘You’ve got one shot, or the gluten is over worked and may as well chuck it in the bin!’ Ian agrees: ‘Always remember ­– less work makes a better crust,’ he says. ‘And always use cold water,’ though obviously not for ‘hot water’ pastries such as pasties and pork pies.

Lastly, if you want your pie to have a shop counter sheen, running a brush lightly dunked in egg or milk over the top of the lid will do the trick. Or you could, you know, try both. ‘We use an egg yolk and milk wash,’ says Lovett Pies’ Phil Roseblade. ‘Which we find works quite well.’ If you’ve seen Phil’s pies, it’s kinda hard to argue.

It’s what’s inside that counts

Pastry’s one thing, but let’s not forget ­– the pie is a kind of matrimony between crust and filling. If you have one screwing it up, the whole dish falls apart. This is a big issue for Amanda. ‘Two really common mistakes,’ she says, ‘are too much pastry with not enough filling, or too much gravy and too little meat.’

As long as the home cook isn’t too vigilant in using up his components all in one go, balance in quantity is achievable enough. It’s more the quality we should be worried about. ‘Don’t be scared to season your fillings,’ says Chris. ‘Our pies contain around 220 grams of filling, and it takes a reasonable amount of seasoning to not leave it bland. Just to taste ­– and add little by little.’ A little goes a long way, as they say. Well, actually, perhaps not far enough: ‘We use loads,’ says Chris.

Lovett’s shortcrust pastry recipe:


  • 250g plain flour
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of ground white pepper
  • 125g salted butter, cubed
  • 60ml/5-6 tbsp cold water


  1. Mix together the flour and salt in a large bowl and add the cubes of butter.
  2. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Work quickly so as to not make the butter melt too much with the heat of your hands.
  3. Bit by bit, stir in just enough of the cold water to bind the dough together.
  4. Roll out to 2cm thick, wrap the dough in clingfilm and chill for 10-15 minutes before using.

This article was originally published in December 2017 and has been updated.

Discover Hartland Pies and Lovett Pies at and celebrate British Pie Week 2018 between the 5th and 9th of March.


5 time-saving tips to ace slow cooker recipes

28th February 2018

Invaluable tips for getting slow cooker recipes right to help you slow-cook like a pro and slice hours off your working week.

Pork and bean stew, slow cooked to perfection. Photo: Natale Towell.

Slow-cooked meals are a dream to eat and a breeze to cook. With the weather not up to much, now’s the perfect time to be whipping up wintery warmers. Think you don’t have enough time for slow-cooking? Think again. You’ll actually save time, money and win major nutrition points by making the most out of seasonal ingredients with little effort and a lot of tasty reward. Here are our top hints and tips to help you become a slow-cook pro and save hours in the kitchen.

1. Embrace cheaper cuts (and save money)

Ward off ills with homemade Chicken Noodle Broth. Photo: Natale Towell.

It’s an old chestnut, but cheaper cuts of meat really do bring tons of flavour to the pot. Cuts such as brisket, shoulder, shin, skirt, chuck and belly demand slow cooking because they’re from a part of the animal has had to work harder. The result? Deep, layered, incredible flavours that just can’t be replicated in a quick-cook scenario.

Have a go at a classic meaty stew by throwing chuck or shin in a pot with root veg and red wine. Or try using beef bones or chicken carcasses that would otherwise go to waste to get your broth on. Slow-cooking performs the same magic on vegetables too, amping up flavours to reveal layers of luscious depths as well as keeping all of their goodness in.

2. A little prep goes a long way

Try slow-cooking dahl in advance and enjoy with pan fried hake for warming midweek supper. Photo: Natale Towell.

Browning meat or vegetables at the beginning imparts a caramelised flavour that’s essential to the magic slow cooking and is a step that shouldn’t be skipped. Recognise the gnarly brown bits at the bottom of the pan when you fry something? These bits are where the flavour building begins and is a step well worth doing if you’re after some glorious umami.

Try browning meat cuts lightly dusted in flour to ramp up the caramelisation and keep the flavour locked in. The same goes for vegetables. Pan fry onions on the lowest heat until meltingly soft (at least 15 minutes) to knock your soups, stews and curries into next Sunday.

3. Batch it up (and save time)

Always prepare for seconds when it comes to pulled pork. Photo: Natale Towell.

The beauty of slow-cooked meals is that they do the hard work so you don’t have to. This is where the time-saving part really kicks in. Taking some time to get your slow-cook on means it’s effortlessly easy to make every dinner day like a Sunday. The flavour of a cooked stew or pie-like dish intensifies over time as the ingredients have had longer to intermingle and get cosy – making that weekend bolognese all the better come Monday.

To make the most of your slow cooked meals, make double the original amount and freeze in tupperware. Batch cooking slow-suppers in advance will give your midweek meals unbeatable flavour and you’ll also save yourself a lot of time during the week. Double win.

4. Go slow, go low

Go low and slow for Phở. Photo: Natale Towell.

The great thing about dishes cooked slowly is that in their nature they ooze flavour, without all the legwork you’d usually need to put in to impart a big flavour punch in quick dish. Take things up a notch and slow-cook your dish for longer on the lowest heat and you’ll find most dishes benefit from gentle heat over a longer period of time.

Going low and slow means flavours have more time to develop with the added benefit of your kitchen smelling scrumptious. Go from 4 hours to 8 hours and you’re destined for a spot on the slow-cook hall of fame. Throw fresh herbs in the end for a clean kick and voilà – supper’s sorted.

5. No touching

If you like it then you better put a lid on it: slow-cook Spag Bol for flavour like no other. Photo: Natale Towell.

One phrase to bear in mind is ‘set it and forget it’. As tempting as it may be, don’t lift the lid for a peek. Each time you open the lid heat and moisture are released, lowering the temperature of what’s inside and letting that luscious liquid go up in vapour. Opening the lid over a period of eight hours will make also make a dent in your timings.

The joy of not peeping means you keep all the nutritious liquid in one place. If you’d like to thicken it up, add some cornflour right at the end, or reduce in another pan on the hob before devouring your sticky stash.

This article was originally published in November 2016 and has since been updated.

Feel good food: discover why British farmers receive double the pay the get from supermarkets at Farmdrop.

Need a wine with that? Here’s your seasonal food and wine guide to get you through a lingering winter.

Discover six utterly soothing slow cooker recipes from London’s top chefs.