Mutton Worth a Million. Part II

To vault to the 21st century from the 19th, let’s look at a current recipe for mutton hot pot.

Mark Hi’s recipe for Lancashire hot pot in the Independent is just the ticket. While dating from 2005, there is every indication similar conditions prevail today: mutton of traditional quality can still be found, one may need to look around, but it is there.

Mark Hi is the lightly disguised pen name of UK restaurateur and hospitality executive Mark Hix. The Dorset-born entrepreneur has long been a fixture on the London restaurant scene, notably in Soho, but is only 57 still.

This story by Hix in the Evening Standard brings career matters to present date. The London Hix restaurants had to close due to Covid-19. Sadly, 130 staff lost employment and the story conveys Hix’ emotions at having to inform staff.

But like inveterate entrepreneurs everywhere, Hix took the opportunity to rethink and regroup.

He’s got a business now in Morcombelake (outside Bridport, Dorset), Hix Fish and Oysters, selling marine produce from a vintage black Chevvy ambulance. He writes:

I struck upon something close to my heart: local fishermen, and the idea of supporting them whilst restaurants, shops and hotels were closed. Once I had my licence to buy and sell fish I got a pitch at Felicity’s Farm Shop in Morcombelake and started selling marine reserve fish and shellfish.

He’s also writing a book, working for others in hospitality, and planning the return of his own restaurant and bar with a new focus.

It’s this kind of can-do attitude so admirable in people who don’t give up, who try to find another way. I’m sure before long he will be a noted force in hospitality again.

His hot pot recipe has a keynote, apart the mutton and optional kidney, of rosemary. That’s a good choice to counterpoint an assertive meat. Other herbs of potency might suit as well, thyme I think, but your imagination is the limit.

Note how he doesn’t mix herbs, not that it’s “wrong”, but there’s no need to. He’s putting up one assertive taste to contrast with another, and job done.

This is food with strong roots in the meadow, the earth, and husbandry. Take it too far from origins and it loses its frank, rustic appeal.

Note: Part III concludes the discussion, here.





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