Johnnie Mountain Kitchen Confidential

Johnnie Mountain, chef/owner of The English Pig in London, talks spring ingredients: lamb, sea bass and English asparagus

Johnnie Mountain Photo

Cooking With

While everyone knows I’m a massive pig fan – my signature dish is a 21-hour slow-roasted belly of pork – I have to admit that spring lamb, aged between seven and 12 weeks old, is just beautiful at this time of year. Work with a good saddle of lamb that’s been boned, without the chumps, and make sure your butcher has skinned it properly; you should also get the kidneys and fillet to go with it. I then like to roast it with a stuffing made from the kidneys (cleaned, deveined and diced), along with basil, lemon, rosemary salt, garlic and boudin noir. My favourite way to serve it is with beautiful Jersey Royal potatoes. They don’t need anything fancy done to them, and don’t boil their arses off. Be gentle with your potatoes. If you want something great to accompany those lovely Jersey Royals, go for wild sea bass. For me, the best way is to bake a whole wild sea bass in salt. It’s simple too, just take a gutted and cleaned fish (about 3kg), season the insides and stuff with fennel, lemon, rosemary and garlic. Sprinkle the roasting tray with rock salt, then make a base for the fish from a handful of peppercorns mixed with 2tbsp of fennel seeds and 3 egg whites, top with thinly sliced fennel, then lay the fish on top and cover completely in rock salt. Bake in the oven at 180˚C for 30 minutes and rest for 15 minutes before serving. At this time of year another superb ingredient is English asparagus. It is one of the finest things this country produces, it really is. Unfortunately, it’s often served either over- or undercooked. Make sure you pick good spears to start with. They must not be too thin or stalky or woody. Snap them at the stalks and throw them into a pot of boiling salted water. Blanch them, then refresh in iced water. Char them on a grill and top with a duck egg and grated parmesan. For something a little different, serve with a reduction of balsamic vinegar and muscovado sugar.

Who i'm using

Tim Hassell rears some amazing lamb and beef at Goodwood (, his farm in the South Downs. And while he’s famous for his ducks, I also get my lovely chickens from Reg Johnson (



Risotto primavera is one of my favourite dishes in the whole world. My wife married me for my risotto, but if she knew how much butter I put in it, she’d divorce me. This serves 4. First, make the sofrito. Heat 50g butter and 2tbsp rapeseed oil in a large and shallow heavy-based pan. Finely dice 1 onion, 2 garlic cloves and 2 sprigs of thyme and add to the pan. Sauté until the garlic is translucent, then throw in your Arborio rice (allow about 100g per person) and toss it around the pan. Then, one ladleful at a time, add up to 1 litre of vegetable stock (warmed but not boiling). When the rice is cooked through and the stock is absorbed, add any seasonal green vegetables such as chopped asparagus, peas, watercress, spinach or rocket. I like to stir through 1tbsp of pesto (grind together basil, toasted and crushed pine nuts, parmesan, lemon zest, garlic and salt and pepper with a little olive oil) and add more butter and parmesan before serving.

Johnnie Mountain Photo

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