Lakeland Walker Magazine - Autumn

Lakeland Walker Magazine - Autumn

Lakeland Walker Autumn
Autumn is a truly sensational time of year; out on the Fells there is a lovely earthy smell of falling leaves, Lakeland relaxes into a calmer time and of course the tree colours can be simply breath taking.
On the farming calendar it is a time for the tups (male sheep) to go forth and perform their annual duty - getting the ladies in lamb! Out and about you may notice the sheep start to get very colourful, this, believe it or not, is not just to cheer up our serious faced shepherds; it has an important purpose too. The male sheep are marked with a coloured oil paint on their chest; this ‘raddle’ allows the farmer to see where the boys have ‘been’ and thus ensures that he is doing his job correctly. The colour will be changed for a darker colour every10 days, this means that come spring the sheep can be sorted into groups dictated by how soon they are likely to lamb. In addition to this colour coding, the ewes will end up with another colour marker to indicate how many lambs they are having.
The time of year also makes you want to cosy in front of an open fire having enjoyed a hearty meal. It is a happy coincidence that this is the best time of year for a fairly forgotten delicacy - ‘mutton’. Mutton is sheep meat from animals over the age of two, the flavours are more intense than lamb and it is ideal for long slow cooking. Sadly the meat has had many decades of bad press based on a post war tendency to use fatty meat from very old animals that was often cooked badly; this has resulted in a stigma that has been hard to shake. Good quality mutton from Herdwick or other hardy fell grazed hill sheep should be hung for 2-3 weeks, this produces an product that no foodie should miss. The meat is melt in the mouth tender with rich flavours that are just delicious.
In another twist of nature, there is an astonishing array of wild food available in autumn that is perfect for a ‘backendish’ evening meal. Damson’s grow prolifically in the Lakes and make for not only fabulous sweet pies and crumbles but work very well in savoury meat pies too. Juniper berries can be gathered from their stumpy little stems in many areas of fell land; these little black berries marry well with game, other strong meats or stir fry with cabbage and bacon. Don’t forget to pack your fungi book in your sack when our walking, a fantastic risotto can be made from the fruits of a quick forage.
Try our recipe for a true taste of Lakeland in autumn.
Recipe – Herdwick Mutton, Damson and Juniper Pie
Preparation time : 30 min

Cooking time : 2 hrs 40 min

Oven Temperature : 170 c

Serves : 4-6
For the short crust pastry
500g plain flour
230g salted Butter
1 tsp dry mustard
beaten egg, to glaze
For the filling
1-2 tbsp oil
1kg Herdwick hogget or Mutton shoulder, cubed
4 Onions, chopped
1 Swede, chopped
600ml local stout or ale
100g black pudding, chopped
200g Damsons, stoned
1 tsp Juniper berries, ground
1 small jar damson Jam
1/2 tsp dried Garlic
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp Hawkshead relish or Worcestershire

1. For the pastry: sift the flour into a mixing bowl and rub in the butter with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the dry mustard and just enough cold water to bring the mixture together into a soft dough. Turn this on to a lightly floured board and knead it lightly until smooth, then form it into a ball. Wrap it in cling film and put it in the fridge while you make the filling.
2. For the filling: Preheat the oven to 170C/gas 3. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium-high heat. Brown the mutton in batches and transfer it to a large flameproof casserole. Add the onion and swede to the frying pan and cook until softened and turning golden, then stir them into the lamb. Add all the remaining filling ingredients to the casserole and top it up with as much water as needed to cover. Cover with a lid and put in the oven for 2 hours (or simmer over a low heat) until the meat is tender. Remove the casserole from the oven or hob and allow it to cool.
3. An hour before you want to serve, preheat the oven to 170C/gas 3. Take the dough out of the fridge, allow it to warm up a little and then roll it out on a lightly floured board. Use two-thirds to line a large pie dish and fill this with the lamb mixture. Cover the lamb with the remaining dough and crimp the edge to seal. Brush the beaten egg over the top to glaze. Cut a small hole in the top to allow the steam to escape during baking. Put the pie dish on a baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes, or until the pastry is golden.

Based in the heart of the Lake District

YEW TREE FARM, Coniston, Cumbria, LA21 8DP|Telephone: 015394 41433 | 07753 957150|Email: [email protected]