TYPICALLY, mutton is fatter than lamb, but it's tastier too and lends itself to slow cooking techniques, as the flavour of mutton mellows and sweetens during a gentle cooking process.

Although mutton is available all year round, the best meat is produced from October to March and has a darker colour than lamb.

When developing this recipe, I discovered that by cooking it in two stages and allowing it to rest overnight, the flavours mellowed further to provide a very tasty winter's dish.

Look out for mutton at a farmers' market. This recipe serves four to six people.

You will need: 2lb (1 kilo) diced mutton One large onion - chopped 2 large carrots - chopped 4 sticks celery - chopped 2 cloves garlic - chopped fine 1oz (25g) Puy lentils 4 large potatoes Small bunch mixed herbs - chopped fine 2 bay leaves Quarter-bottle Hook Norton's Hooky Gold or similar light beer with moderate bitterness 250ml (10 fl oz) stock Flour to dust and thicken 1oz butter Vegetable oil Salt and freshly-ground black peppercorns to season Method: Trim all fat from mutton and roll in seasoned flour Heat enough oil in a large frying pan to cover the bottom, adding the mutton when it reaches full heat Fry mutton until it begins to brown, turning constantly Add the onions, carrots, garlic and celery to the pan and continue frying until they soften Remove contents of the pan into large casserole dish, stir a dessert spoon of flour into the pan, stir in well and allow to brown, but not too much Stir in stock and then the beer, also herbs, Puy lentils and seasoning, and bring to the boil. Once it has boiled, tip the contents into the casserole, add the bay leaves, stir, place a lid on and allow to cook in a very slow oven for at least an hour-and-a-half. Remove from oven, cool and store chilled overnight Next day, scrub the potatoes, cut into thin slices without removing the skins, and place on top of the casserole until the entire surface is covered, having first checked consistency and added more stock if needed Dot small cubes of the butter over the potato slices, grind a little black pepper on too and cook at 180C/350F or gas mark 4 for about an hour, or until the potatoes are cooked and golden brown.