Spring is in full stride (forgetting lingering chilly winds and occasional frosts!), and there are plenty of special dates to celebrate this month.
First up is Wales’ St David’s Day on 2 March and, along with a bunch of daffodils, it’s the perfect moment to enjoy spring lamb. A beautiful leg, studded with rosemary and garlic, roasted just long enough to leave the meat tenderly pink in the middle, is aromatic and deliciously tasty.
A shoulder cut remains extremely popular and gently slow-cooked it’s meltingly good and packed with flavour. Chops and cutlets are perennial favourites too. James Martin has an unusual way of cooking these over hay – using a method of home-smoking, he lines a large pan with the hay, adding rosemary, garlic and a little oil before laying the chops on top. The pan needs to be tightly sealed with foil and a lid before cooking over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes, turning the meat halfway. Add a little butter to glaze and serve – different definitely, why not give it a go?
Just over a fortnight later, Ireland celebrates with St Patrick’s Day. Now, while Guinness has its place, Irish stew has got to be the dish of the day. Purists would argue that it has to be made with lamb or mutton, but many people use stewing beef. Cooked simply with carrots, onions and celery, and topped with sliced potatoes, this is a dream ‘prep and leave’ dish, giving you time to head outside and enjoy nature’s gifts in the garden or a country walk
Towards the end of the month, Mother’s Day on 26 March is a great occasion to say, ‘Thank you’ to the lady who gave you everything. Don’t forget a card and a gift, but why not cook her a delicious meal? One of the simplest yet stylish dishes that always impresses is stuffed chicken breast – use a wooden mallet (or rolling pin) to slightly flatten each breast before adding a generous dollop of soft herb or blue cheese; roll the breast up and tightly wrap with streaky bacon, laying the parcel on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil, cook at around 200C/400F/Gas 6 for around 20-25 minutes and serve with seasonal vegetables.
Finally 13-19 March is National Butcher’s Week and although more people are choosing to support their local butcher, it’s a good moment to celebrate the wide range of meats and cuts we are able to offer, along with, in our case, four generations of butchery knowledge. We’ve recently opened a third store at Creake Abbey Food Hall, enabling us to serve more customers across Norfolk, so spread the word and let’s celebrate eating local and eating seasonal together.
Visit E. H. Prior at St Nicholas Court, Church Lane, Dersingham PE31 6GZ or call on 01485 542589.