Cooking in hay may seem like a new trend but it has actually been around for centuries. It’s the marriage of the animal with the food it was reared on, and the two sit sublimely together in perfect harmony. The hay infuses the meat with an earthy, bonfire fragrance, gently smoking the mutton while keeping it beautifully tender. 

This recipes makes a wonderful alternative to a traditional Sunday roast - visually impressive, deliciously flavoursome and with an interesting story to boot. 


  • 1
    Leg of mutton on the bone
  • 2 tablespoons
    Olive oil
  • 6
    Baking potatoes
  • 3
    Garlic bulbs, halved
  • 2 handfuls
    Meadow hay (optional)
  • A good pinch
    Sea salt
  • A good pinch
    Freshly ground black pepper
  • For the sauce

  • A handful
    Flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked
  • A handful
  • 1 tablespoon
  • 2 tablespoons
    Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove
    Garlic, grated
  • 1 tablespoon
    Cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons
    Olive oil


  • Preheat the oven to 200C. 

    Place the mutton leg in large roasting tray and rub it all over with the olive oil. Season generously with salt and pepper and roast in the oven for 25 - 30 minutes until the meat has taken on some colour and is already smelling delicious. 

    Remove the tray from the oven. Arrange the potatoes and garlic bulb halves around the mutton, turning the potatoes through the fat once or twice as you go. Season the potatoes and garlic with a little salt, then (if using) tuck the hay around everything like you're a bird making a nest for your eggs. 

    Cover the tray with a sheet of baking parchment followed by a sheet of foil. Crimp it up round the edges of the tray so it keeps the steam in. Reduce the oven temperature to 160C and return the mutton to the middle of the oven and cook for a further 1 1/2 hours. 

    While the mutton is cooking, make the green herb sauce. Place the parsely and mint on a board and use a nice sharp knife to chop it all up. Add the capers, mustard and grated garlic and carry on chopping until it's all fairly fine. Spoon into a bowl and add the vinegar and olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. It should have a loose-ish consistency, a bit like a dressing, so add a splash more oil or a tiny dash of water if it's a bit thick. 

    Remove the roasting tray from the oven, uncover and check the mutton is cooked to your liking, using a digital thermometer probe if you have one. Check the potatoes are cooked too; if they're not quite there yet, return them to the oven to finish off. Either way, leave the meat to rest for 20 - 25 minutes. 

    To serve, carefully lift the mutton from the tray to a wooden board or a platter, give everyone a potato to split and butter, carve some nice slices of mutton for everyone and share out the roasted garlic and green herb sauce. 

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