Do not skip over! This is a wonderfully, unctuous, cheap pasta dish
Ok, the scrag end of mutton tagliatelle doesn’t quite have the nicest ring to it.
But don’t be put off by a name.
You will be rewarded.
- Prep Time: 5 mins
- Cook Time: 3 hours slow-cooking, hands-off
- Serves: 4
- Difficulty: easy
- Ideal for: midweek meal, weekend meal
What is scrag?!
Scrag [ skrag ]
- a lean or scrawny person or animal.
- the lean end of a neck of veal or mutton.
- Slang. the neck of a human being.
verb (used with object), scragged, scrag·ging.
- Slang. to wring the neck of; hang; garrote.
- Metallurgy. to test (spring steel) by bending.
Ok, we’ve established it’s not the sexiest word to use for a meal.
And its various dictionary meanings, also don’t offer any redemption for this word.
But there is no denying it’s delicious.
So, what is it?
Mutton scrag, also known as mutton scrag end or neck of lamb.
It’s a cut taken from the top of the neck.
Mutton scrag is a very cheap cut of meat, but it does not lack flavour.
The scrag end of mutton is rich in gelatinous sinew that can be transformed by slow cooking.
It’s a bit like cooking with oxtail.
Which was an absolute lesson for me in cooking with cheap (rather ugly) cuts that develop into the most incredible flavours.
You’ll end up with mouth-wateringly tender meat falling off the bone.
And creating an intense gravy, full of marrow and collagen.
Scrag end of mutton tagliatelle
I discovered end of scrag mutton and this recipe through my Pipers Farm Cookbook.
I now always make sure I have this super cheap cut in my freezer.
Of course, when it comes to treating yourself to a meat dish.
Then it’s always worth buying quality meat – locally sourced, high-welfare and if you can find it grass-fed.
This recipe requires a 3-hour slow-cook so it might be something you do on a weekend day or weeknight.
Then pop it in the fridge or freezer so you can make a quick midweek meal with it.
What is mutton?
Its sheep aged for more than two years.
Whereas lamb is four to six months old.
Mutton has a stronger and richer flavour.
This is why it’s used so often in Middle-Eastern and Indian cooking.
It can hold up against other bold flavours in tagines or curries.
The Victorians loved mutton and it was a pretty common sight.
But then it all went downhill.
4 reasons to try mutton
Mutton is slightly tougher.
But you’ll be rewarded with a more intense flavour.
And works very well when slow-cooked which helps with the tenderness.
Mutton can be available all year.
But the best meat is produced from October to March due to the sheep eating nutritious summer and autumn grass and heather.
2. Better treated
There isn’t much point in keeping a sheep for longer without being focused on quality.
So, it should mean that the animal has been treated well.
And has had a longer and happier life.
Mutton is particularly rich in iron and zinc.
Which helps the formation of blood cells and helps develop the body’s immune system.
4. Better farming practices
Raising mutton takes time and care.
So, this means that by buying mutton, you’re supporting farmers who look after their animals.
For another fabulous mutton dish, try slow-cooked spiced mutton with chillies
Scrag end of mutton tagliatelle
- olive oil
- 600 g scrag end of mutton
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 sprigs of rosemary, leaves freshly chopped
- 250 ml red wine
- 680 g jar passata (or use a 2 x tinned chopped tomato)
- 400 g tagliatelle (or a pasta you like)
- fresh parsley chopped
- sea salt and ground pepper for seasoning
- Preheat oven to 150C/300F
- Place an ovenproof casserole dish on high heat. Add a little olive oil, season the mutton then brown in the pan until a nice golden caramelisation – approx. 5 mins each side.Remove from the pan and set aside.
- In the same pan, add the onion, garlic, bay leaves, and rosemary and cook for around 5 mins. Now, add the red wine and passata and bring it to a boil.Return the mutton to the dish, place a lid on, and place in the oven for 3 hours or until the meat is tender and falling off the bone).*You may need to add a little water if the dish is drying out.
- Cook the pasta as per the packet's directions.
- Take the casserole dish and place it on medium heat on the hob. Add a cup of pasta water to the dish and let it simmer.
- Remove the bones from the sauce and taste for seasoning.Add the pasta, mix gently, and serve with a sprinkle of parsley.