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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.


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.


5 of the best restaurants to build a country weekend break around

28th February 2018

Desperate for a foodie getaway? Feast on five hand-picked delectable destinations just two hours (or so, ish) from London worth building the ultimate country weekend break staycation around. So go on, book that Friday off and make plans for a game-changer of a dinner-meets-weekend away. Your inner chef deserves it.

1. The Sportsman, Whitstable

5 best restaurants to build a country weekend break around near London

The Sportsman: the best ‘grotty rundown pub by the sea’ you’ll ever eat at.

When this pub was crowned National Restaurant of the Year 2016, it left it’s chef/patron Stephen Harris ‘gobsmacked’. It won again in 2017 and was also named Gastropub of the Year for the second time in a row. The only non-London restaurant to make it into the top five, you can find the Michelin starred-pub on the windswept barren beauty of the Seasalter coast. Self-taught cook Steven swapped a career in finance in 1996 for a professional kitchen and three years later landed near his home town of Whitstable.

Previously a self-proclaimed ‘grotty rundown pub by the sea’ (via their Twitter bio, now minus the words grotty and rundown), Stephen used ingredients he could see from his kitchen window long before the farm-to-fork movement hit the mainstream, saying: “This bit of salt marsh on the north Kent coast was owned by the kitchens of Canterbury Cathedral, and for more than a thousand years it was the larder for this area, so it seemed right to use the land.”

Now equipped with a small kitchen garden, his dishes let native ingredients do the talking with beautiful finesse. Whether going a la carte and or for the excellent value daily tasting menu, dine on Whitstable Native Oysters, slip sole grilled in seaweed butter and round it off with a rosehip ice lolly. Book far in advance and don’t forget to take a trip down the coast to see the sights, shops and sounds of Whitstable seafront too.

Getting there: 1hr 40mins by car from central London.

Find it: The Sportsman, Faversham Road, Seasalter, Whitstable, Kent, CT5 4BP

2. 64 Degrees, Brighton

5 best restaurants to build a country weekend break around near London

Truffle tagliatelle with confit egg yolk at 64 Degrees, Brighton.

Tucked away in the Brighton Lanes, 64 Degrees is a tiny restaurant serving small plates using fresh, local produce from an open kitchen. Founded by chef Michael Bremner (a Great British Menu finalist), his award-winning kitchen sits bang in the middle of the seating area. Perch on a high stool — one of only 27 seats — and you’ll see every slice and dice as you sit at the pass.

There are just 16 plates to choose from — four of each meat, veg, fish and sweet — and its relaxed muted interior leaves space to focus on all the drama happening before your eyes. The co-creator behind dishes such as ‘tongue, pea, jowl’ and ‘celeriac, chestnut, yolk’, head chef Sam Lambert says: ‘we just stick to local, and the fact we’re face to face with customers means we can tell them exactly what’s in the food’. And the name? We hear it pays tribute to the optimum temperature for poaching an egg.

Getting there: 1hr train ride from Victoria + 10 mins walk

Find it: 64 Degrees, 53 Meeting House Lane, Brighton BN1 1HB

3. Hartnett Holder & Co at Lime Wood Hotel, New Forest

5 best restaurants to build a country weekend break around near London

Hole up for the weekend at Hartnett Holder & Co in the New Forest. Photo: Áamy Murrell.

If you weren’t aware already, Angela Hartnett’s cooking is an Italian-inspired tour de force (pop to Murano and you’ll know what we mean). Hartnett Holder & Co is the restaurant of the luxury country-house Lime Wood hotel set in 145 square miles of ancient heath in the heart of the New Forest and makes for an idyllic epicurean country weekend break.

Together with chef Luke Holder, Angela and the team create locally sourced Italian dishes with a respectful nod to the seasons. Pretentious fine dining and big plates are out and home cooked sharing plates are in. Expect dishes such as fresh wild garlic, served simply with gnocchi, Parmesan and pine nuts or a cashew nut hummus (as spotted on Instagram). Complete with cosy wood fires, oak interiors, and an onsite smoke house, handily there’s a sumptuous bed you can roll into after dinner.

Getting there: approx 2hr drive from central London

Find it: Lime Wood Hotel, Beaulieu Road, Lyndhurst, Hampshire SO43 7FZ

Honorary mention: The Pig, Brockenhurst

Sister hotel of Lime Wood, it’s another fine example of the right amount of glamour needed to make a time-precious country weekend break go with a bang. Expect locally sourced and foraged ingredients with a story without any old-fashioned stiffness. Its menu is uncomplicated seasonal British garden food influenced by the forest and coast and all to enjoy in a stunning country house.

Getting there: approx 2hr drive from central London

Find it: Beaulieu Road, Brockenhurst, Hampshire, SO42 7QL

4. Hand & Flowers, Marlow

5 best restaurants to build a country weekend break around near London

Fancy an Essex lamb “bun” and a pint?

Zoom down the M40 and you can be at chef Tom Kerridge’s Hand and Flowers  – the only pub in the UK to hold two Michelin stars  –  in just over an hour from central London. Located in the Georgian town of Marlow, there’s a little whimsy to be experienced amongst it’s chocolate-box pretty, winding historic streets along the Thames. A thoroughly modern British pub that you can stay over in, Tom and his wife opened in 2005 with the idea of it being a place they’d like to go on their day off. Now it’s a place that folk from around the world are desperate to visit on their day off.

The menu’s focus is on making the most of the best seasonal ingredients with little fuss and lots of charm. Dishes include lovage soup to start, and an Essex lamb “bun” for a main and chocolate and ale cake to finish. Book a table in advance or if you prefer to be spontaneous on a country weekend break, head to his second non-bookable pub called The Coach, also in Marlow.

Getting there: 1hr 10 mins drive from central London, or 1hr 30mins by train and bus

Find it: The Hand and Flowers, 126 West Street, Marlow SL7 2BP

5. The Ethicurean, Bristol

5 best restaurants to build a country weekend break around near London

Dine overlooking an exquisite Victorian walled garden and the Mendip Hills at The Ethicurean.

The Ethicurean is a must-visit destination for arguably the most beautiful setting to eat in on a country weekend break in Somerset. Focussed on sourcing ingredients from the nearby fields, forests and orchards that surround their garden, its philosophy is simple: “eat local, celebrate native foods, live well.”

Its story began when friends Jack Adair Bevan, Paula Zarate and brothers Ian and Matthew Pennington met working at farmers’ markets. They took a shine to an apple business at Barley Wood Walled Garden and its conservatory-style cafe was available to rent too. Together, they grabbed the opportunity and use everything from its bursting vegetable and herb patches to make their own vermouths, fermentations and of course, apple juice. Expect vibrant dishes such as cucumber with labneh at lunch to a scones adorned with jam made from their walls which ‘drip with fruit’ for an afternoon tea break. Check out their cookbook to try their dishes at home.

Getting there: 2hrs 40mins drive from London (okay it’s not 2hours, but you need to go!)

Find it: The Ethicurean, Barley Wood Walled Garden, Long Lane, Wrington, Bristol, BS40 5SA

In need a rural escape that requires a flight? Take a look at our top 8 international farm stay holidays guaranteed to beat winter blues.


Pullet eggs: what are they, why they’re hard to find and how to cook them

19th February 2018

There’s a mini egg scandal happening in Britain. Farmers are forced to throw away millions of smaller pullet eggs each year because they don’t make the size-grade. Thankfully, there is a way to pick up pullet eggs direct from the farm and save them from their food-waste fate.

Ordinary eggs vs. small pullet eggs

Ordinary eggs vs. smaller pullet eggs. Photo: Natale Towell.

One of the greatest pleasures of local food is the increased likelihood of running into unusual ingredients that you won’t find elsewhere. So familiar are we with what industrially produced eggs have to offer, you won’t find small pullet eggs in a supermarket and instead medium, large and even extra-large are the order of the day.

Pullet eggs are not found in the supermarkets because they are too small to conform to the rules set by regulators. This shortsighted approach to selling fresh eggs has meant that millions of pullet eggs are not reaching tables but are destined for liquid eggs, or even worse, the bin. Which is a real shame, because they’re a delight.

What are pullet eggs?

A pullet is a hen that is under one year old and has only been laying eggs for only a few months. Pullet eggs are the first eggs laid by hens at about 18 weeks old. These young hens are just getting into their egg-laying groove, meaning these eggs will be noticeably smaller than the usual eggs you come across. And that’s where the beauty in them lies – quite simply, they are delicious.

Chefs can’t get enough of them because of their brightly coloured yolks and a unique richness that eggs from an older hen simply don’t have. Pullet eggs also hold together beautifully (like little mountains) in the pan, so are incredible for poaching and frying. The smaller size of pullet eggs only last about 4 weeks before they get bigger. They’re not around for long and that’s why they’re not available all year round.

Rowie with her free-ranging hens

Rowie with her free-ranging hens. Photo: Nigel Akehurst.


Why is it so hard to find pullet eggs?

Outside of their incredible richness (we’ve definitely heard the words ‘avian caviar’), pullet eggs highlight economic and sustainability issues too. Up to 10% of every egg farmer’s stock is thrown away because the eggs are too small. By not selling these eggs, farmers are losing out. You may have seen us talking to Jamie Oliver about them on Jamie And Jimmy’s Friday Night Feast.

Jamie says: “They may be little but farmers say they’re the tastiest you can get. The great British public are missing out on a premium seasonal product and worse, farmers’ livelihoods are on the line.”

Third-generation poultry farmers Danny and Susie Macmillan of Mac’s Farm who featured on the show say they lose around £60,000 a year due to few people eating pullet eggs. The supermarkets may not want them, but the rise in public interest in our pullet eggs after the show aired showed us that you do. Which is fantastic news for our farmers Rowie at Purton House Organics and Andrew at Haresfield farm, who now have a home for pullets hens’ eggs.

Pullet egg on the bottom, ordinary egg on top

Pullet egg on the bottom, ordinary egg on top. Photo: Natale Towell.

How to cook a pullet egg

Our recipe developer and MasterChef semi-finalist Beth shares her tips for the perfect pullet:

You can cook a pullet egg in the same way you would a normal egg. However, using pullet eggs for poaching is much easier as they have a brilliant ability hold together more so than normal eggs. For soft boiled pullet eggs, cook for 3 to 4 minutes from a rolling boil and make sure you use eggs that are at room temperature.

To easily remove its shell, put the egg straight into iced water and leave to cool (for about 5 minutes). Gently roll the egg along a surface to get an even layer of cracks in its shell and you’ll feel it come away. Find a weak spot to get under the shell and gently pull it off.

Just how small is a pullet egg?

Got pullet eggs and can’t wait to get cracking? To help you use them in baking, here’s a quick size comparison guide based on EU weights:

Standard EU Egg Sizes

Extra-large (XL) 73g+

Large (L) 63g – 73g

Medium (M) 53g – 63g

Small (S) less than 53g

Average Pullet 35g – 40g

How do you use yours? Let us know in the comments below.

This article was originally published in May 2017.

Pick up your pullet eggs now available from organic farmer Andrew at Haresfield Farm. 

Keep your eyes peeled for availability from Rowie at Purton House Organics.

Here’s why we pay farmers double compared to supermarkets.


Behind Cub, London’s most sustainable bar and restaurant

13th February 2018

Cub is the kind of place that thinks nothing of using bananas to soften carrots and serving produce grown out of a city’s food waste. Part art, part alchemy, meet the team smashing the concept of ‘sustainable restaurant’ apart with an inimitable approach to zero-waste food and drink.

Behind Cub, London's most sustainable zero-waste bar and restaurant

The interior of Cub in Hoxton. Photo: Kim Lightbody

Sustainable restaurant, eh?

It’s hard not to sneer at the concept of a ‘sustainable restaurant’. On the whole, restaurants tend to live by bulk wholesale orders, non-native recherché ingredients, and relative lavish excess.

Perhaps it’s healthy to uphold such scepticism, as it leads you to some interesting places. I’m at Cub, in Hoxton, talking with general manager Maja and operations manager Robin. The word ‘conversation’ comes up a lot. Here a discourse, rather than a main course, is the dish du jour.

Cub, at least by their own expression, is an embodiment of ‘a conversation’. And one, as it’s increasingly clear, that we should all be having. The space in which it sits formerly housed White Lyan, which Time Out called the ‘Fat Duck’ of cocktail bars, and is Cub’s predecessor. ‘We closed White Lyan because it needed to evolve into something else,’ says Robin. ‘We’d had the conversation by that point.’

One man’s trash is another’s edible treasure

Before you decide things are getting a little too pompous, the discussion revolves around one of the most unsophisticated things imaginable: waste. Specifically, how we can turn it into a force for good in the wider context ­– not just within these four walls in East London. ‘The whole idea,’ says Robin, ‘is to show what you can make to eat and drink from ingredients that might otherwise have earthy roots, as sustainability in general has quite an earthy approach to it.’

Behind Cub, London's most sustainable zero-waste bar and restaurant

Mr Lyan’s scotch blackcurrant cobnut mazake cocktail at Cub. Photo: Kim Lightbody

When it’s a discussion that’s brought together Ryan Chetiyawardana, one of the world’s best mixologists and founder of Dandelyan, and Doug McMaster, chef at and owner of Britain’s first zero-waste restaurant Silo, there’s reason to take notice.

Ultra-sustainability and zero-waste, it’s all down to harmony

Food is talked about in the same breath as drink (as evidenced by the menu, where drinks are served as constituents of the 12-courses), while bartenders are chefs, and chef are bartenders. ‘There’s four stations for the staff,’ says Robin, gesturing from the bar and kitchen to the tables. ‘And everyone works on each station simultaneously. That’s when you start to see bridges in food and drink come together.’

This synergy cuts across everything, from sourcing to the finished courses. Indie Ecology, who Cub source from, employ a system whereby waste and surplus food is collected from restaurants around London, composted on their farm in West Sussex, and ploughed back into the soil. From this soil, new crops are grown for the kitchens the waste material originally came from.

‘When you soak basil seeds in acid…they almost taste like clove instead.’

This relationship is quite unique, as it means Cub have carte blanche over what they can grow on their plot at the farm. And boy do they like control ­– the restaurant has a herbarium where they grow seedlings, tinkering with the temperature and ambience to change the outcome in flavour of the plant. ‘Basil’s got a clove-like flavour to it when you look underneath it all,’ says Robin. ‘When you soak the seeds in acid and give them a certain amount of light, they almost taste like clove instead of basil.’

Getting different flavours and textures out of ingredients will not be something new to those who’ve visited Silo, where the most popular dish is dried beetroot, rehydrated in beetroot juice, and served with a roasted potato skin stock. At Cub, the thinking is similar. Robin tells me of a trick involving using bananas to help soften carrots. ‘The gas that bananas give off when they’re ripening helps break down starches in the carrots, so it’s a bit like fermenting, but you’re speeding up the microbial process. You get floral notes from it, a bit like violets.’

Behind Cub, London's most sustainable zero-waste bar and restaurant

Linzer potatoes with blackcurrants and fennel flowers at Cub. Photo: Kim Lightbody

Social sustainability is as important as flavour at Cub

Like bananas, what they can’t grow over here in the UK Cub won’t ignore, even if they consider themselves conscious of the environment. Social sustainability is as important as flavour. The team want to make sure they’re supporting someone who’s growing something extraordinary and then honour that producer ­– and the environment – ­by getting as much out of an ingredient as possible. ‘Say after you’ve fermented the carrots with the banana,’ says Robin, ‘you take the banana and make banana bread, and roast the skins to make a syrup. But sometimes we’ll try and use something too much, and by that point it’s lost a lot of its flavour. Then the process becomes moot, as you’re not going to enjoy it.’

All this seems a tad ambitious, especially when everything ­– including the ‘kitchen’, which is actually a few hot plates behind the bar – fits inside a room no bigger than, well, a small cocktail bar. ‘For a no-waste operation, you need a space six or seven times the size of this,’ says Robin. ‘Just look at Silo.’ More of a challenge, perhaps, but less of a problem when it imbues everything they do: from the tables made from yoghurt pots and the recycled clay walls that filter minerals in the air, to the decision to keep the place open three days a week so that – contrary to the 80-hour week common in the industry ­– staff get a decent break.

Behind Cub, London's most sustainable zero-waste bar and restaurant

The brains behind Cub, Doug McMaster and Ryan Chetiyawardana. Photo: Xavier D. Buendia / XDB Photography

‘This is about making people think of the disconnect between where meat comes from, and what you find in the supermarket.’

Speaking of staff, only one on the team is vegetarian. Which might seem curious given such a tiny portion of what Cub serves is meat. Rather than being a purposeful omission, ‘this is about making people think of the disconnect between where meat comes from, and what you find in the supermarket,’ says Maja. A few weeks ago, Cub, like almost every other restaurant, put haggis on the menu for Burns Night. To mark the occasion, sure, but also as a timely reminder that the dish is one of the most sustainable in the world. ‘Because it’s everything people don’t want to eat shoved inside something people don’t want to eat. With some herbs and spices,’ says Robin.

Behind Cub, London's most sustainable zero-waste bar and restaurant

Photo: Kim Lightbody

‘If you can buy it in Tesco, it shouldn’t be on the menu.’

When the restaurant does bring meat in, it’s most likely to be off the back of a phone call with a farmer who’s got a pig or a cow coming to the end of its life. Or from a supplier who’s strong on their ethics. ‘We’ve bought fish from Cornwall that’s slaughtered by a needle down the spine so it dies instantly and without stress,’ says Robin.

High sourcing standards is probably why, as Maja tells me, people try cooking these dishes at home, only to come back, defeated, with more questions. ‘We have a small directive that,’ says Robin, ‘if you can buy it in Tesco, it shouldn’t be on the menu.’

As helpful as it is, a sustainable restaurant shouldn’t be exclusively about getting fish from healthy ocean stocks, waging war on plastic, or paying their staff the living wage. Though it might sometimes baffle the critics, it should be about nurturing a new dialogue. Plenty of that at Cub. Just don’t do it with your mouth full.

Discover more of Britain’s ethical food innovators or take a trip to London’s sustainable cocktail bars and cosy ethically-minded pubs. 

Don’t forget to meet the chefs taking Instagram by storm.