Put the spring back into your cooking this season

Easy Herdwick lamb chops
Easy Herdwick lamb chops
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From Morecambe Bay shrimps and Chorley cakes to hot pots and butter pies, Lancashire is blessed with some of the best food in the country.

From artichokes and strawberries to Jersey royals and Lancashire asparagus, spring is a great time to eat well.

But the star of the spring dinner table has got to be that new batch of tender, fatty, wonderfully flavourful lamb that arrives just in time for an Easter feast.

And when it comes to lamb, nothing beats the iconic Herdwick breed reared by just a few remaining farmers north of the border on the Cumbrian hills.

The foodie favourite breed has historic ties to the Lake District but, with 20 per cent of farmers expected to retire or stop farming in the next five years, getting your hands on it isn’t always easy – unless you shop at Booths.

The supermarket, which champions local produce, is the only large supermarket to stock Herdwick lamb and, to improve the viability and profitability of upland farming, they have announced a collaborative project with farmers to help secure the future of this wonderful meat.

The supermarket has devised a programme whereby farmer Ian Knight sources Herdwick from several local farms and supplies it to Booths for a guaranteed fair price.

To get the best out of this beautiful product, which is back on shelves this month for its limited four-month season, we’ve teamed up with the supermarket to put together three easy, globe-trotting recipes sure to spice up your spring menu.

Mexican Lamb barbacoa

INGREDIENTS

For the lamb

Shoulder of herdwick lamb

5 dried ancho chiles

100ml apple cider vinegar

1 medium tomato, cut into quarters

1 onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

3 cloves

For the vegetable base

2 medium onions, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

1 can chickpeas, drained

1 bottle light beer, such as Corona

3 cups water

bay leaves

METHOD

For the marinade: rehydrate the dried chiles in some hot water.

Transfer to a blender and blitz with 300ml of the liquid, plus the vinegar, tomato, onion, garlic, the dried herbs and some salt.

Sauté the pureed marinade for about 10 minutes or until the colour darkens and the mixture thickens. Marinade lamb in the mixture for two to 24 hours.

Once ready to cook, combine the onions, carrots and chickpeas in a large roasting tray.

Pour the beer over the top. Add the bay leaves and season with salt.

Arrange the meat on top and roast in low oven for four to six hours, or until the meat falls off the bone.

Shred the meat and spoon off any excess fat from the vegetables.

Serve with lime wedges, warmed tortilla wraps, sour cream and salsa for a great Mexican feast.

Moroccan leg of lamb

INGREDIENTS

Half a leg of herdwick lamb

100g dates, chopped

2 onions, sliced

6 garlic cloves, chopped

1 tbsp chopped ginger

2 tbsp harissa paste

2 cans chickpeas, drained

1 cinnamon stick

250ml (9fl oz) chicken stock

Tin cherry tomatoes

6 tbsp chopped fresh coriander

METHOD

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.

Set the lamb on a chopping board and slash the flesh all over, in a criss cross pattern. Cover with harissa paste.

In a roasting tin, combine onions, garlic, ginger and any leftover Harissa.

Add the chickpeas, cinnamon and chicken stock.

Set the lamb on top of the chickpeas and roast in the oven for two to three hours, or 30 minutes per 450g, basting every now and then and stirring the chickpeas.

Thirty minutes before the end of cooking time, add the tomatoes.

Allow the lamb to rest for 15 minutes before carving. Stir the coriander into the chickpeas.

Serve with cous cous or flat breads.

Easy lemon lamb chops

INGREDIENTS

Herdwick lamb chops

juice of 1 lemon

1 lemon, cut in half

Thyme

Olive oil

Salt

METHOD

Marinate the lamp chops, lemon juice and thyme leaves and let sit for at least 20 minutes.

Grill in a really hot griddle pan for three to four minutes on either side, allowing nice grill marks to form.

Grill the halved lemon along with the lamb. Serve with new potatoes (not leftover creamy dauphinoise potatoes, like me) and steamed vegetables.