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Herefordshire is, at long last, being recognised as a favourite foodie destination. Not only does it produce world-renowned beef and cider, there are lots of artisan producers and boutique restaurants throughout the county gaining a reputation at a national level too, together with specialist outlets and farm shops. The Castle House Hotel in the heart of Hereford was one of the first places to put the city firmly on the fine dining map. We’re delighted to feature two recipes from the hotel, which would certainly be crowd-pleasing courses at any New Year’s celebration.

In their own words, here’s a little background on the hotel:

Castle House is an elegant Regency villa created from two townhouses, holding a commanding position at the top of Castle Street, which has its own elegant, balconied architecture.

The hotel sits beside what remains of the old castle moat, now just a reminder of Hereford's strategic importance. The Castle Green now forms the heart of the city, and the old castle moat is overlooked by the hotel’s charming garden.

In the early 18th century, a local entrepreneur, recognising a good piece of real estate when he saw one, built a pair of fine Georgian villas. The rear of the building was added in the second half of the 19th century when then-owner Frederick Boulton obtained permission to join the two houses together.

From the 1920s, Castle House was a boarding house then in the 1940s, it became a genteel hotel, the finest in the city - a reputation it still retains. The hotel is still privately-owned by local farmer David Watkins, whose produce features as often as it can on the hotel menu.

What’s on Offer?

Head Chef Claire Nicholls oversees both the Castle Restaurant and the hotel’s Ballingham Bar & Bistro, with both menus featuring a host of Herefordshire’s wonderful produce. She is recognised as one of the UK’s most respected female head chefs and has been awarded two AA rosettes during her time at Castle House.

If you’re planning a stay, there are 24 beautifully-appointed rooms to choose from including several suites. As well as stopping at the hotel to enjoy a visit to the city and sampling Castle House’s spectacular menu, many visitors are attracted by its eclectic events’ calendar. Throughout the year, it plays host to the likes of Prue Leith and Peter Scudamore who provide a fascinating insight into their world during their talk. Coming up in 2018 will be Barry Baxter, a local bee expert, talking about the importance of bees and other insects to our planet’s survival. Kew Garden’s Carlos Magdelana is another visitor – he’ll be promoting his book The Plant Messiah about his life’s work to save plant species, one flower at a time.

Calendar of Events - Winter 2018

To find out more about forthcoming events as well as take a look at the latest menus and room rates, visit

We’d also like to take this opportunity to wish you all a fine and firey 2018.


Castle House Braised Shank of Herefordshire Lamb

  • 1 garlic clove, peeled, chopped
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 300 ml white wine
  • 1 litre of beef stock
  • 1 litre of chicken stock

Serves 4


  • 4 lamb shanks
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled, chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled, chopped
  • 1 leek, trimmed, chopped
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • 2 rosemary sprigs

Ingredients and Method for Celeriac Purée

  • 450g celeriac, peeled
  • 40g unsalted butter
  • 160ml double cream

Chop the celeriac into about 2 cm pieces. Melt the butter in a pan and cook the celeriac over a medium-low heat for about 10 minutes. Add the cream and bring to the boil. Tip into a blender and purée until smooth. Keep warm

Method - Braised Lamb Shanks

Heat 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil on high in a heavy based pan.  When hot, add the lamb shanks and sear on all sides colouring them evenly. Remove to a plate.

Reduce the heat to medium, add the onion, carrot, leek, thyme, rosemary and garlic to the pan and cook for about 4 minutes. Add the tomato purée and cook for further 2 minutes. Tip in the white wine, allow to bubble and reduce right down. Pour in most of the beef and chicken stock, keeping a little back just in case you need more. Bring to the boil, skimming as necessary.

Return the lamb shanks to the pan and ensure all are submerged. If necessary, top up with your remaining stock. Partially cover the pan and cook in the oven on a very low heat -about 150°C – for approx. 1½ to 2 hours and when tender.  Remove the lamb shanks and leave to rest for a few minutes.  Strain the liquid in the pan and boil until reduced by a half and thickened to a sauce consistency. Keep warm.

To serve, scoop a tablespoon of celeriac purée on to each (pre-warmed) dinner plate and place a lamb shank on top. Glaze with the warm sauce and serve with your chosen vegetables – we have used our own Ballingham Kitchen Garden carrots in this recipe.