Borough Market’s Roast Restaurant has a new head chef, Marcus Verbene. Verberne was previously at Brown’s Hotel and arrives at Roast having worked alongside Mark Hix at Le Caprice, J Sheekey and The Ivy. His role at Hix at The Albemarle rewarded him with 3 AA rosettes.
Marcus’ menus at Roast reflect his focus to support British suppliers, whilst still retaining the core of what the restaurant is known and loved for. In keeping with seasonality, this recipe is a new twist on lamb and uses mutton.
Anchovy-rubbed, hay-baked leg of mutton with parsley and caper sauce
There are varying standards of mutton on the market, make sure you ask your butcher for mutton that meets the exacting standard drawn up by The Mutton Renaissance. These guidelines ensure a consistent quality expected by chefs and home-cooks. The sheep must be over two years old, have had a forage-based diet, have sufficient fat cover, and be matured (hung for at least two weeks). There are certain breeds known for producing delicious mutton such as, Herdwick, Romney, Blackface and Southdown. The latter, we use at Roast.
Ask your butcher to bone-out the leg, removing the femur but leaving the shank bone in for presentation. Then he/she should butterfly the individual muscles, opening them out sufficiently for the anchovy rub.
If you’re worried about where to find the hay, try a pet shop!
- 1 leg of mutton, femur removed and butterflied
- Enough hay to wrap the leg thoroughly
- 16 salted anchovy fillets
- 2 cloves of garlic
- Leaves from 3 sprigs of rosemary
- 2 tablespoons of rapeseed oil
- Freshly milled black pepper
- Sea salt
For the sauce:
- 1 large onion (sliced)
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons of flour
- 500ml lamb or beef stock (hot)
- 150ml Double cream
- 80g capers
- 1 small bunch of parsley (chopped)
Soak the hay in cold water. While it’s soaking, start with the anchovy rub. Place the anchovies, garlic, rosemary and rapeseed oil into a pestle and mortar and grind into a smooth paste.
Open out your butterflied mutton leg with the inside facing up. Massage all of the anchovy paste into the meat evenly and season with a few twists of black pepper. Roll the leg back up and tie tightly with butchery string at 2 inch intervals. Season the outside with sea salt and pepper.
In a large heavy based pan on a moderate heat, seal the meat, rendering out any excess fat from the outside of the leg. Continue this process until the meat is caramelised on all sides.
Place a large length of tin foil on your work surface and place the wet hay generously inside the foil, saving some for the top. Lay the sealed leg gently onto the hay and cover with the remaining hay. Wrap the leg up tightly in the foil covering with several layers so no moisture is released during cooking.
At Roast we bake the leg very slowly for 8-10 hours on 80c which results in the leg being pink all the way through and means there is minimal moisture loss or shrinkage. If time isn’t on your side, bake for 3 hours on 140c.
Once cooked, rest the meat for at least 20 minutes before unwrapping to carve.
For the sauce
In a sauce pan, cook the onions and bay leaf gently in the butter until the onions are soft. Add the flour and cook for a further 2 minutes, stirring often so it doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan.
Add the hot stock a little at a time and stir constantly to avoid lumps. Reduce until a gravy consistency is reached before adding the cream.
Add the capers and chopped parsley just before serving.
At roast we serve this dish with bubble ‘n’ squeak, but it works just as well with mashed potato or champ.