When I was at the Food Fair at Galleon Wharf on 12th June, my table was next to his so I had chance to have a proper look at his wares. On this occasion he was again selling pork and lamb from the farm near Buckingham, some of it in the form of sausages.
I am a bit partial to a sausage so I was interested in his products: a spicy lamb sausage that he said was similar in flavour to kebab meat, a 100% pork, which had nothing other than salt and pepper added to it, and a more finely ground 80% pork with the other 20% being rusk. It is no easy task selecting a sausage that my whole family will enjoy as Steve and I prefer a properly meaty sausage and the girls prefer theirs to be more pasty and, actually, cheaper in quality. Fortunately, Tim had a little pack of four 100% pork sausages that was just the perfect size for me to take home to try.
I was also intrigued by his diced hogget as this isn't a term I come across very often. Tim explained that hogget comes from 1 year old lambs and is part way between lamb and mutton. It would require, he said, slow gentle cooking, but the flavour was amazing. Given that I love the flavour of lamb, particularly casseroled, I was keen to give this go so ! swapped a bottle of brown sauce and jar of chutney for a pack for his hogget.
Thinking about it, I realised that I had first come across the term "hogget" recently when Gordon from Urban Grilla had mentioned that he was now using Bourton Farm Food's hogget in his street food, so I decided to ask him how he cooked it.
"I start by browning the shoulder on a barbecue," he said. "This gives it a lot more flavour than browning it in the pan. After it's got a nice, brown crust, I pot roast it with rosemary and garlic, carrots, onions and celery. I season it well and add a few ingredients of my own and add a bottle of Hornes Brewery Triple Goat porter, whilst trying my hardest not to drink any of it. I then put it in the oven between 120 and 140°C, and leave it to cook slowly for between 5 to 8 hours. I know its ready when the meat literally falls off the bone. Bourton Farm hogget is some of the tastiest lamb I've ever eaten which is why they are our main suppliers."
Now doesn't that sound amazing? Something to put on my "must try" list for sure. Maybe I'll catch up with Gordon and some slow cooked hogget at the Wolverton Food & Fun day on 2nd July.
In the meantime, not having a whole shoulder of hogget to play with, I decided to stick to my original plan of casseroling it. I browned it first, in a conventional frying pan I'm afraid, and added it to some lamb stock I'd made previously from the bones of a roast leg of lamb. To this I added par boiled carrots, celery, leek and butternut squash. Then I briefly fried an onion, some mushrooms and garlic, added a splash of mushroom ketchup, soy sauce and sweet chilli sauce and added these to the dish too. This I topped with slices of par boiled potato before giving it a splash of Worcestershire sauce to finish it off. After an hour in the oven at 180°C, the potatoes were crisp and the meat tender.
I did kind of expect the first mouthful of meat to blow me away - you know, like the flavour of the first hungry bite of steak, onions and mustard - but it didn't. It was tasty and tender but not in your face. Then, gradually, over the course of the meal, the flavour seemed to somehow build, developing a depth and savouriness that younger lamb doesn't have. It was a bit like the opposite to a Chinese takeaway where the first mouthful is amazing and then half way through the meal you get fed up with it. With this casserole I enjoyed the flavours more as it went on and right to the last mouthful. I ended it feeling suitably satisfied.
It was a few days later that I cooked up the sausages to try. They were undeniably meaty and it was nice not to have them over-complicated with herbs and spices. Personally I think they could have tolerated a slightly higher fat content but others might prefer their lean qualities. But it is hard not to feel happy about eating a 100% pork sausage from a local farm for the principle alone so its delicious meaty flavour just seals the deal. Sadly, my daughter refused to even try these, preferring her lesser quality ones, but no matter as they made a delicious cold sausage and ketchup sandwich for lunch the next day.