Hector Macrae of First Coast on Reestit Mutton
It’s important to me to source quality Scottish produce. As a youngster I worked in a local fish factory in Skye and it was heartbreaking to see about 99 per cent of the langoustines and scallops being shipped abroad. Times are changing and chefs are getting more supportive and demanding, which can only be a good thing. We started sourcing reestit mutton when a chef from Shetland, who was working in the restaurant, suggested we try it.
‘Reestit’ is an old-style Scottish dish; it is basically a heavily salted meat that is cured over peat fires in Shetland. Before freezers were invented, this was a way of treating the meat to last through the winter. We get ours from Globe Butchers in Lerwick.
It’s great in a hearty broth, as it has a really intense mutton-y flavour. I’d slow cook the meat and use it to make a stock. However, it’s so salty that – depending on the batch – I sometimes have to dilute it a little. You can also cut it up thinly, lightly fry it and use it in a salad. It’s not as refined a meat as parma ham, but it has a much more appealing bite to it. I’ll sometimes have it in a roll before service to keep me going.
● Hector MacRae is head chef at First Coast, 97–101 Dalry Road, Edinburgh, 0131 313 4404, www.first-coast.co.uk
● Globe Butchers is at 49–53 Commercial Road, Lerwick, Shetland, 01595 692819 www.globebutchers.co.uk