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Slow-braised shoulder of hogget with balsamic vinegar and soy sauce

This recipe is inspired by Tom Aikins on Great British Chefs. It is a great way to slow-cook a shoulder of hogget or mutton, in this case a boned and rolled joint. The balsamic vinegar and soy sauce cuts through the fat, so it has a delicious combination of very tender meat with the sharpness of the gravy.

  1. Get the joint up to room temperature for an hour or so, and heat up the oven to 200c
  2. Peel and chop onions into halves (or quarters if they are huge). Peel cloves of garlic. Find the thyme from back of the cupboard, or even better, pick some fresh from the garden.
  3. Rub the shoulder of hogget with some olive oil and season with salt, pepper and thyme. Place a little more olive oil into the bottom of a large casserole pot and place the joint on top of the bed of onions and garlic.
  4. Place into the hot oven for 15-20 minutes for a ‘merry sizzle’ (as HFS calls it) until the lamb and onions have begun to brown and the pan is good and hot. Have a cup of tea.
  5. Turn down oven to 110c, or use a slow cooker, or if you are lucky enough to have an AGA then move the pan to the simmering oven. Put the lid on. Leave for five hours (yes, that’s right). Go outside and do some gardening, because you will want to work up an appetite for later.
  6. After five hours, remove the pot from the oven and add the balsamic vinegar. This is where we diverge from the Tim Aikins method, as he suggests removing the onions and garlic to reserve for later, but we find it better to leave them in so they steep in the gravy. The recipe calls for 250ml of balsamic vinegar, which seems ridiculously extravagant. We did not have enough, so we did half and half with light soy sauce, which worked very well. It also means we can call this dish Devon-Asian fusion…
  7. Cook at low heat for a further hour or so, basting every 20 minutes.
  8. While that is simmering, cook some mashed potato. Some vegetables may also be a good idea, if you like that sort of thing.
  9. The shoulder should be so tender that you can carve it with a spoon, almost like pulled pork.
  10. For leftovers, heat up some diced onion and garlic, add Orzo or Arborio rice, add a splash of white wine. Then pour in the remains of the balsamic gravy (you may want to spoon off the fat first), then the diced shoulder. Top up with stock so the meat is submerged. Bring to boil and then simmer/slow cook for 40 minutes. This will make an unctuous and comforting winter supper.


  • shoulder of hogget or mutton
  • sea salt
  • black pepper
  • 2 tbsp of thyme
  • 8 medium onions, peeled and halved
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 bulbs of garlic, peeled
  • 125ml Balsamic vinegar
  • 100ml light soy sauce

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