New season Scotch Lamb is at its best right now, sweet and tender, 4-6 months old and raised on the Scottish hills, and celebrity chef John Torode is enthusing about the dishes he plans to cook.

Nothing beats local lamb for flavour, he says, whether you cook it simply or zhoosh it up with spices or a marinade.

“Lamb is one of those extremely versatile meats and that’s why everybody loves it so much,” says the TV chef.

Scotch Lamb PGI takes its quality and characteristics from a stress-free life grazing on the Scottish hills and is famously sweet and tender with delicate flavours.

Sourced from selected Scottish farms that adopt best practice regarding animal welfare and production methods, buying Scotch Lamb PGI  guarantees the highest quality meal and also supports local farmers.

“One of the great things is that even for novice cooks it’s easy to cook lamb," adds John.

"Anyone can roast a shoulder or a leg of lamb. Score it well so that fat starts to melt into the meat, making it lovely and moist, then you’re going to get maximum flavour of rich and lovely lamb, which is what we’re after.”

What’s not to love about a show-stopping roast, cooked low and slow, the aroma driving everyone to distraction until they can sit down and tuck in.

But the leftovers are what really sets this apart and make it worth investing in a larger joint, because the next day you can create another amazing dish the whole family will love.

John says a roast leg or shoulder of lamb can be a delicious midweek feast  that you can stretch over a couple of days, making it cost effective.

“Once it’s been cooked you can take it off the bone and shred it, or you put it back in gravy and braise it, or make it into fritters like the wonderful ones my dad used to make,” he says.

“It’s something he cooked when I was a kid and it's pretty simple. You’ll eat about 10, they are so delicious.

Dad always cooked these fritters the day after we had feasted on roast lamb. They are easy to make, quick and cheap. I don’t know where the recipe originated but my dad used to cook them for my brothers and me and they bring back many happy memories of growing up. I love them. And him.

(Makes about 8–10 fritters)

Ingredients

Heat the oven to 160°C/Gas 3.

Method

Mix together the lamb and onion. In a separate large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, pepper and water. Drop the lamb and onion into the flour and mix well.

You will need to cook the fritters in at least 2 batches. Pour a good layer of oil into a large frying pan – it should be about 0.5cm deep. Drop large tablespoonfuls of the fritter mixture into the oil. These little morsels are cooked in the same way as a pancake – slowly, over a medium heat for 3–4 minutes, until brown around the edges. Turn the heat down if the fritters cook too frantically. Turn the fritters over and leave to cook for another few minutes until they’re brown and crispy.

Move the cooked fritters into a roasting tin and pop them in the oven to keep warm while you cook the remaining batch(es).

Serve with creamed spinach, peas, beans and buttered carrots or as a snack with piccalilli, mustard, tomato or brown sauce.

“Using leftovers comes from a time when people were more frugal and in recent months people have become more like that again. With lamb there’s so many things you can do and, of course, a cold lamb sandwich with lots of butter on white bread is a still a delicious thing.”

When you see the PGI badge with the Scotch Lamb logo, you can be confident that all lamb were born, reared and processed in Scotland and hold whole life quality assurance.

Make sure you chat to your local butcher, says John, who’ll be able to tell you where the lamb came from and may suggest different cuts for you to try.

“The butcher is brilliant because you can see what you’re buying and you can ask exactly where it came from.

Drew Mackenzie, from Robert Alexander Butchers in Port Glasgow, supplies Michelin restaurants as well as loyal locals with new season lamb.

Customers love some of Drew’s more unusual cuts including lamb tenderloin which cooks in seconds and he’s currently batch cooking his famous lamb casserole to keep up with demand.

He also has some words of advice on cooking: “My late mother was a butcher’s daughter and a butcher’s mother and she always said you don’t need anything to cook lamb because good lamb has all the flavour you need.”

Everyone’s been at home recently, planning meals and cooking, and John and wife Lisa Faulkner have shared a recipe on Instagram every day.

Sitting down to eat at the table together is also a daily ritual: “Whether it’s just me and Lisa or the family are here, the table is always set," he says.

If you are planning ahead, John suggests buying a joint of lamb to freeze until you need it, just taking it out the night before you intend to cook.

It’s also fine to freeze cooked lamb, as long as you defrost properly before reheating thoroughly, then eat it straightaway.

Research the dish you want to create, go online at www.scotchkitchen.com and be inspired by some of the new season lamb recipes or try John's recipes then enjoy the preparation which, for many people, is like therapy.

John adds: “It’s one of the great things about cooking and the the reason I love it. You have to concentrate, watch what you’re chopping, keep an eye on the stove, maybe have the radio or some music playing."

Then tuck into the dish with the same passion that went into producing your PGI Scotch Lamb.

Ingredients

 

Method

Preheat the oven to 180oC/Gas 4