MICHELIN Travel Discover the world
Home > > > > > > > Ouessant lamb stew cooked under a turf fire Ushant

Nearby Restaurants

  • Ty Korn
    Cotation :
    Type de cuisine : fish and seafood

See all restaurants Ushant

Ouessant lamb stew cooked under a turf fire

Ouessant lamb stew cooked under a turf fire

2010-01-11

The scarcity of trees on Ouessant has meant that the islanders have always used gorse and turf from coastal pastures as fuel. From fish and limpets to the island’s main speciality, lamb stew, everything used to be cooked under a turf fire.

Sheep rearing is a very old tradition on Ouessant Island. Ouessant sheep are characterised by their thick, waterproof fleece, horns curved like a wild sheep’s, and small size. When shorn, they looked smaller than many dogs.
 
In 1852 there were still over 6,000 sheep on the island. Every family owned one or two, keeping them in enclosures in order to protect the crops. Each animal was ear-notched and from September to February the flocks roamed free. In the 1970s over 500 notches were registered at the town hall. Later, as larger white sheep were gradually introduced, the Ouessant breed began its inexorable decline and today their presence is purely ornamental. Around ten pairs remain, reintroduced by people on the island.
 
Fortunately, the breed’s disappearance has not resulted in the loss of the ancestral recipe of Ouessant lamb stew cooked under a turf fire, even though the lamb is now imported (like everything else eaten on the island, other than fish).
 
Like all stews, it’s a humble dish made from the cheaper cuts (breast, shoulder, neck) and vegetables from the garden. The cooking method, however, is typical of a treeless island and uses practically no fuel. Instead of wood, turf extracted from coastal pastures is used, dug up with a special spade-like implement called a mar.
 
The cast-iron casserole dish is covered with a pile of dry turf which will burn for around four hours, giving the stew its grassy, smoked flavour. Cooked properly, the potatoes will have a lovely golden crust. The slow cooking method was well suited to the women’s lifestyle, since they worked in the fields all day long. In times past on Ouessant, everything – limpets, fish, rice, cake – used to be cooked under a turf fire. A few restaurateurs and artisans, such as Pascal Cousin, make this recipe to order, so you’ll be able to try it during your stay on Ouessant.
 
Recipe for 4
 
1 kilo of lamb (neck, shoulder, breast)
1 kilo of carrots
4 onions
1 kilo of potatoes (choose a firm variety).
1 swede (optional)
4 cloves of garlic
Fat (lard)
Salt and pepper
 
Brown the pieces of lamb well in a cast-iron casserole dish. Put to one side. Brown the onions until nicely coloured.
 
Meanwhile, peel the vegetables and cut into large pieces so that they remain intact during cooking. Put the vegetables in layer by layer: onions, carrots then potatoes. Add water or meat stock, making sure not to cover the layer of potatoes so that they can brown.
 
Cook in a moderate oven for 4 hours.

The scarcity of trees on Ouessant has meant that the islanders have always used gorse and turf from coastal pastures as fuel. From fish and limpets to the island’s main speciality, lamb stew, everything used to be cooked under a turf fire.

Top of page