Mutton roasted with amaretti-date spiced marinade

Amaretti, garlic, chilli

I’ll confess that I wasn’t planning to blog this recipe. However, the reaction of friends on twitter and the team here was so good that I had to share. And that’s why there isn’t a fab picture of the cooked dish: it got eaten before the camera could record it. Sorry.

I wanted to cook something special as a celebration meal for Debs’s birthday. She had chosen mutton and I had a nice piece of leg from the folks at Field & Flower. I wanted to do something quite different with it. We love Moroccan style food and I was thinking of chermoula spices, dates and almonds. However, I did not have enough almonds to hand,  so I wondered if some amaretti biscuits would fit the bill. They did. And how.

The taste is a glorious mix of warm sweetness and spice with a tangy almond edge. It’s rich and full and combines beautifully with the earthy sweetness of the mutton. The marinade would work equally well with a shoulder of lamb, slow cooked beef , chicken or game. In fact, I had lots spare and used it as a dip for the grilled tiger prawns we had to whet the appetite.

Do you want to know how to make this? Read on…

Mutton roasted with amaretti-date spiced marinade recipe


1-3kg mutton leg
120g stoned dates
1 aubergine, halved and grilled or roasted, soft pulp removed from skin
1 bulb elephant garlic, or 3-4 cloves garlic
80g amaretti biscuits
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp fine sea salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp (or to taste) chilli flakes
Rind & juice from 1 lemon
2 tbsp of plain yoghurt


Put all of the ingredients apart from the mutton in a food processor or blender. Whizz it all up so you have a thick paste.

Make some small incisions into the mutton with a small knife. Smear and push the paste into the cuts and then spread thickly over the rest of the meat. Leave to marinade for as long as you can.

When you are ready to cook, pre-heat your oven to its highest setting.

Put your mutton into a casserole with a tight fitting lid and pour in about 100ml of cold water. You could also seal up the meat in a kitchen foil envelope so that no juices escape. I popped mine into an old Le Creaset Marmitout and sealed the lid with a couple of layers of kitchen foil.

Pop the meat into the oven and immediately turn the temperature down to 180°C. Cook for a minimum of 3 hours until the meat will fall apart when you touch it. Shred the meat and tuck in.

That’s all there is to it.

We had this with a potato boulangere that had potatoes, onions, garlic, anchovies, dried oregano in it and a green salad from our garden.

Do let me know in the comments below if you try this and what you think.



, , , , , ,




13 responses to “Mutton roasted with amaretti-date spiced marinade”

  1. carla tomasi Avatar
    carla tomasi

    ops….addenda to my previous comment: nice styled pic. no dishcloth in sight.:)))

  2. carla tomasi Avatar
    carla tomasi

    The dish that happened by chance…I was going to roast/braise the shoulder of lamb I had planned for Christmas lunch.. a la Italian.. but out of the blue a huge box of just-off-the-plane-from the A Emirates..big fat dates landed on my lap. Off to print the recipe..I did not however blitz the ingredients and I braised the lamb on top of the stove. The house filled up with the most amazing smell. Truly one of the most delicious thing I have eaten this year. mine was a bit of a wet stew( done purposefully so I could have a soup as well…) Got massive amount of brownie points from Andrzej that I am very happy to share with Carl.
    The lemony,chilli,sweet undertone make this dish a hit. Ta ta Carl

  3. Gregoire Avatar

    Clever dish as always Carl! Love the blend of flavor, definitely a winner! 🙂

  4. Lynds Avatar

    Was very privileged to have some of this marinade- I put some under the skin of poussin and rubbed the rest into the skin and flesh. Slow cooked in a tagine over roasted onions and tomatoes, with beetroot chunks, then took out the birds and added the rice so it absorbed all the flavour and none was lost . Really gorgeous flavours ,deep and warm with a long almond finish! Well done Carl 🙂

  5. Lynds Avatar

    Poussin now marinating prior to slow cooking in tagine 😉 Am looking forward to later !

  6. Misk Cooks Avatar

    I intend to make this, but I do have a question: Where’s your elephant garlic source? I’ve not seen it ever sold in supermarkets, and I’ve only seen it in America. The biscuits might be a problem though for this household. Are we looking for vanilla flavour by using it?

    1. Carl Avatar

      Hi Misk

      We but elephant garlic from the Isle of Wight Garlic Farm and grow it on. You can also buy for cooking from them too.

      The flavour for the biscuits were for the almonds, so you could use some roasted blanched almonds or roasted flaked almonds as a substitute.

      Let me know how it goes 🙂

      1. Misk Cooks Avatar

        Total success. I combined one of my old standby lamb recipes with yours for a new twist. Plan to do it again.

  7. Renee Avatar

    That sounds amazing! Never had mutton, but may have to try that dip for my coconut shrimp recipe. ; )

    1. Carl Avatar

      Hi Renee

      Thanks for popping by, coconut shrimps with the dip would be awesome 🙂

  8. Lynds Avatar

    Oh,my ! That looks wonderful 🙂

  9. AKentishKitchen Avatar

    Brilliant. I’m now awaiting the beef with ginger snaps recipe… 😉

    1. Carl Avatar

      I’ll work on that… 😛