Fried mutton loin with shaved cauliflower, preserved lemon & smoked paprika

Fried mutton loin with shaved cauliflower, preserved lemon & smoked paprika

By
From
Gather
Serves
4
Photographer
Andrew Montgomery

I remember being told the best thing to do with an old mutton carcass was to ‘slow-cook the whole thing’. I was younger and less experienced, but we had hung that thing for four weeks. The meat was dark and dry and carried a good-looking, firm, white fat. I kind of hoped the loins would be tender enough to serve pink. So, ignoring the slow-cooking advice and without really knowing how things would turn out, I cooked the loins hot and fast, with coarse salt, olive oil and the verve of youth. The meat was sensational – as tender as you could wish for.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1 small, firm cauliflower
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted
2-3 mint sprigs, leaves picked and shredded
1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
2-3 teaspoons sunflower seeds
1 large white onion, thinly sliced
or 2 small white onions, thinly sliced
250g mutton loin, trimmed
1 garlic clove, bashed
1 small preserved lemon, very thinly sliced
1 tablespoon runny honey
1 1/2 teaspoons sweet smoked paprika
6-8 sprigs fennel tops, torn
salt
freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Cut away the outer leaves from the cauliflower, then trim back and remove the central stem, dividing the cauliflower into large florets as you do so. Thinly slice the florets about 2–3mm thick and place them in a large bowl. Drizzle over 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, pour over the lemon juice and scatter over the cumin seeds and mint leaves, then season well with salt and pepper. Use your hands to tumble everything together gently and set aside.
  2. Set a large frying pan over a medium heat and add a dash of olive oil, followed by the pumpkin and sunflower seeds and a scattering of salt. Toast the seeds for 3–4 minutes, then remove them from the pan and set aside. Return the pan to the heat, add a further 2 tablespoons of olive oil and when the oil is hot, add the sliced onion. Season, then cook, stirring regularly, until the onion is soft and beginning to crisp around the edges (about 10–12 minutes). Remove the onions to a plate and keep warm. Return the pan to a high heat. Add the mutton loin and garlic to the pan. Season all over with salt and pepper. Cook for 5–7 minutes, turning regularly, until they’ve taken on some golden colour, then remove from the heat and allow to rest for 5–10 minutes in a warm place.
  3. Scatter the cauliflower over four large plates or a serving platter. Slice the mutton into 1–2cm slices and lay it over the top of the cauli. Scatter over the onions and the toasted seeds along with the preserved lemon skin. Drizzle with the honey, and dust with smoked paprika. Finish with a tangle of torn fennel tops, a lick more olive oil and some salt and ground black pepper.
Tags:
River Cottage
seasonal
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