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Chef’s table: James Durrant in Hampshire

Hampshire convert, James Durrant uncovers the best places, dishes and produce from his adopted county

Chef’s table: James Durrant in Hampshire
James Durrant. Image: www.jeremyrata.com

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Local love
I moved to Hampshire from London in 2012 to run my own pub, and fell in love with the place. The landscape is so varied, from the coast and the New Forest, to the rolling hills of the South Downs: fantastic for dairy and free range meats, wild game, birds and fish. I’m surrounded by amazing producers and restaurants, all passionate about their craft and county. There’s no doubt we’re spoilt for choice down here.

Hampshire hot spots
I’m a big fan of a good breakfast, and Thyme and Tides in Stockbridge is my favourite spot for a family brunch. They also have a wonderful fish counter. I love tapas, and Andres has nailed it at Pulpo Negro in Alresford, blending Spanish and Hampshire produce to create amazingly tasty dishes. There’s a great pub in the village of Upton Grey, called The Hoddington Arms, where they bake Tunworth Cheese whole and serve it with fresh sourdough.

Farmers’ fare
Hampshire Farmers’ Market is one of the UK’s largest, held in a different town every weekend; the biggest one is on the last Sunday of the month in Winchester. It’s where I buy my lamb (Rother Valley Organics), for the featured recipe. My family usually stops at Broughton Buffalo Burgers or Greenfield Hog Roast for lunch. The two food festivals I love are the Alresford Watercress Festival in May, and Trout ’n’ About in Stockbridge in August.

Trout test
Chalk Stream Foods is producing some of the best trout I’ve ever used. I simply fillet it and cure it with salt, pepper, a touch of sugar, dill and citrus zest.

Lamb Lobscouse

Lamb Lobscouse

Make it at home: Lamb Lobscouse 
(serves six)

INGREDIENTS

· 1 lamb shoulder, boned (1.5kg)
· 1 tsp rock salt
· Couple of sprigs each of rosemary and thyme
· 1 bay leaf
· 8 cloves peeled garlic
· 1.5 ltr duck fat
· Baby vegetables (turnips, carrots, leeks, onions)
· Six 4oz lamb rumps  
· 1 ltr fresh lamb stock, reduced by half

METHOD

Pre heat the oven to 140C. Place the lamb shoulder in an ovenproof casserole dish, sprinkle with rock salt, thyme and rosemary sprigs, bay leaf and garlic. Pour enough duck fat to cover. Heat slowly until the fat starts to simmer, then place in the oven for three hours until tender. Allow the lamb to cool slightly, remove from the duck fat, and using a couple of layers of cling film, shape the shoulder into a log and wrap it tightly. Chill overnight.

Blanch all the baby vegetables separately in salted water drain them off and refresh in ice water. Reheat the vegetables when needed with a knob of butter.

When you’re ready to serve, cook the lamb rump for six to eight minutes in a hot pan, then allow to rest. Slice a thick disc of lamb shoulder and shallow fry it in butter, then place in the bottom of your serving dish, followed by the buttered vegetables and then the sliced lamb rump. Pour over the reduced lamb stock and
serve immediately.

The chef: James Durrant

Former Jason Atherton protege, with over 10 years spent in Michelin-starred venues, James Durrant is the executive chef at The Stafford hotel, London.

Published in the April 2017 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)