As best I can tell there is no definitive recipe for Herdwick stew. What we really have here is mutton stew. What gives it the name is the key ingredient, the Herdwick. What is a Herdwick I hear you ask? Well, it’s one of these.
These hardy mountain sheep live the majority of their lives roaming the fells only occasionally being brought down for breeding purposes and general husbandry. As a boy, in Cumbria, in the 1970’s, we were taught in school that the Herdwick was bred for its wool. We were taught that the meat was really to tough to make good eating. But, in reality, we all knew the truth. The life of this sheep, roaming the fells living on whatever it can find to graze, gives it an amazing flavour. Something which, in the last five to ten years, the rest of the world seems to have realised too. The secret is out!
This is how I cooked mine on this day. The ingredients are just what I could grab out of the fridge. I would expect you to use your favorite mutton stew recipe. By the way, I reckon that Herdwick mutton would make a brilliant Moroccan style lamb tagine.
I’m using, mutton (obviously), Chorizo, potato, tomato, mushroom, onion, leek, garlic, chilli, paprika, dried herbs, beer and a small dash of whisky. If I’d had fresh parsley or fresh thyme I would have used them. First, fry off the meat. Then fry of the vegetables and chuck in the seasoning. Add the beer, a dash of whisky and stir. Then sit back, relax, look a the view and stew for as long as it takes. The end result. The remainder into a food jar for later on in the day. You know, there are some people when out and about pour hot water in to those ghastly freeze-dried packet things. I suppose that’s ok if you’re some kind of long expedition type of person. But for the rest of us, there are alternatives.