Blackface Mutton and Turnip Pie

Serves 4.


  • 1kg neck fillet of mutton, cut into rough 2cm pieces.
  • Plain flour for dusting .
  • 2 large onions, peeled and finely chopped.
  • Vegetable oil for frying.
  • A small sprig of rosemary.
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • 1.5 litres chicken or lamb stock (fine if made from good quality stock cubes).
  • 400-450g turnips, peeled and cut into rough 2-3cm chunks.
  • 250-300g puff pastry, rolled to about 1/2 cm thick.
  • 1 egg, beaten.


  1. Pre heat the oven to 200°C/Gas mark 6.
  2. Season the pieces of mutton and dust generously with about a tablespoon or so of flour.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan and fry the pieces of mutton and onions, without colouring them too much for 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add the rosemary and stock, bring to the boil and simmer gently for about 1½ -2 hours until the mutton is soft and tender. This may take a little longer or less time as it’s difficult to put a cooking time on braising cuts.
  5. Add the turnips, cover with a lid and add a little more water if necessary and simmer for about 15 minutes until the turnips are cooked.
  6. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
  7. Meanwhile cut the pastry a little larger than the pie dish or dishes for individuals you are using.
  8. When the mutton mixture is cool, transfer it to your pie dish/dishes.
  9. Brush the edges of the pastry with some egg and lay the pastry on the dish, pressing the edges on the rims.
  10. Cut a slit about 2-3cm in the centre to let the steam out, or for larger pies, place a pie funnel in the centre of the dish surrounded by the filling, then lay the pastry over with the funnel poking through.
  11. Bake the pies for 40–45 minutes until golden.
  12. Serve with buttered cabbage, boiled potatoes or some mashed swede.

There’s a campaign to get more people eating British mutton this winter. I’m all for it. Well hung, mature sheep’s meat has so much more flavour. It just needs longer and gentle cooking.

This recipe comes from Alan Bird of the Ivy and was featured by Mark Hix in the Independent.

You can see more of his recipes on (search for Mark Hix).