Traditional Shetland Reestit Mutton Stew is a hearty, deeply flavoured dish of the stick-to-your-ribs variety. It’s just perfect after a long day exploring the beautiful islands of Shetland.
Shetland. Wow. We have seen some beautiful places on this road trip, but for me, nothing came close to Shetland.
The landscape is breathtaking, the roads are immaculate, the wild camping in awesome. The houses are colorful and the people… ahh the people. Courteous, kind, softly spoken with the lovely Shetland lilt. I could have happily spent our entire month long trip exploring the islands of Shetland, and I’m pretty sure I’ll be going back at some point.
I feel like I’ve left a little piece of my heart in those islands.
The reason we made the trip to the most northerly part of the UK was to visit my good friend Elizabeth who I have known for years but never met. She is a fellow food blogger over at Elizabeth”s Kitchen Diary, and as we live at polar extremes of the UK our paths were unlikely to cross by sheer accident.
As I was researching the island, and particularly the cuisine, I happened across this article for traditional Shetland reestit mutton stew. Amusingly I discovered that it was written two years ago by… Elizabeth!
It piqued the interest of my inner smallholder as it referred to an age old method of preserving meat that I’d never come across before. Reestit mutton is a joint of mutton that is brined, then air dried by hanging in the rafters above the peat fire that kept the family warm and well fed through out the colder months. There it would happily hang for months at a time, picking up the smoky flavours of the fire below and mellowing out into a delicious final product.
If you manage to hunt some down this is how it looks in it’s dried state…
To turn this rock hard lump of meat into a deliciously tender bowl of stew, you first of all need to simmer it for two hours. This would have tricky to achieve over over campfire so Elizabeth kindly took it home and cooked it for me :)
Once cooked, the meat is pulled from the fat and bones and it’s definitely worth sneaking a taste at this point. It’s a lovely, well rounded flavour and so so tender. A simple stew is then made using root vegetables and the resulting dish is nourishing and deeply flavourful.
Traditionally it would have been serves alongside some buttered bannock, but that recipe is for another day!
Here’s hoping you enjoy this recipe if you give it a go. And if you’re a huge lamb fan like me, why not give this Slow Cooker Pulled Lamb recipe a try? It’s one of our most popular recipes here at The Hedgecombers, and readers rave about it!
- 1 kg Reestit mutton
- cold water (to cover)
- 1 onions, finely diced
- 300 g potatoes, finely diced
- 200 g turnip, finely diced
- 200 g carrot, finely diced
- 1 litre stock, or water & stock cube
Pop the mutton in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat a little and simmer for two hours or until the meat is tender.
Discard the cooking water and when the mutton is cool enough to handle, strip the meat from the bone.
In the same pan add the mutton, vegetables and stock and simmer for 20 - 30 minutes or until the veggies are all tender.
Using a potato masher, crush around half of the vegetables which will thicken the broth whilst leaving some bite to the stew. Stir through the mutton and simmer for a couple of minutes to heat through.
Season to taste (do bear in mind that the mutton can still be a little salty) and serve with buttered bannock or bread.
Huge thanks to Elizabeth and her gorgeous family for helping bring this traditional recipe to life, for showing us round their beautiful island home. You can find out more about her and lots more about Shetland over at her fab blog, Elizabeth”s Kitchen Diary.
It was such a pleasure to be able to make this dish for you! So glad you enjoyed it and it was wonderful to get to spend time with you and Jonny The kids are still asking when we’re going to Cornwall to visit you! :D
Jane Sarchet says
Yes, when exactly are you all coming to Cornwall…??? :D
Seriously, it was SO lovely meeting you for real & I can’t wait to hang out again soon xxx
This looks so delicious, that’s so nice you were able to meet your friend in person, it must have been great fun!
Jane Sarchet says
Thanks for stopping by Renee! It was so cool, and we got on even better in person too! :)
Stews are so warm and comforting – they always make me think on England! I’ve never cooked with mutton before, but you’ve totally inspired me to give it a try.
Jane Sarchet says
I hope you love it Nicola!
Daniela Anderson says
It looks hearty and delicious, the kind of dinner you want to share with the family. I have not had it before, but am tempted to cook it soon.
Kim at Three Olives Branch says
I love finding new recipes from all over the world. This looks like such a great stew!
Jane Sarchet says
Me too Kim, I love all those quirky little ingredients and recipes from all corners :)
Thanks for stopping by!
Tina Dawson | Love is in my Tummy says
How lovely it must be to sip warm stew while staring out that picturesque window you got there! Heavenly!
Kavey Favelle says
I remember learning about reestit from Elizabeth too, how wonderful that you were able to visit and to try this lovely dish as well!
This looks like a super comforting stew. Perfect for the cold and rainy weather we have here in Manchester at the moment.