Slow-roast shoulder of lamb with aromatic herbs

Slow-roast shoulder of lamb with aromatic herbs

By
From
The Frugal Cook
Serves
4-6
Photographer
Mike Cooper

I was given a bag of dried herbs from Cyprus which were more pungent and aromatic than any I'd ever tasted. They seemed to me the ideal accompaniment for a slow roast shoulder of lamb which is a frugal buy but can be quite fatty. If you can't lay your hands on Cypriot ones you can often find Greek dried herbs by the sprig in delis. Or, if you have a herb garden, grow and dry your own.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
some dried sprigs mediterranean herbs, ideally including rosemary, thyme and oregano
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon peppercorns
2kg lamb shoulder
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced olive oil
175ml red or white wine
175ml light stock

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C. Take about six assorted sprigs of herbs, pull off the leaves and put them in a mortar. Add the sea salt, peppercorns and cumin seeds and grind together with a pestle until you have roughly ground powder. Trim off any extra thick patches of fat off the lamb shoulder with a sharp knife (but not all of it - you need to leave a thin layer over the joint). Make some small incisions all over the meat and stuff the garlic into the slits. Put the lamb in a roasting pan and rub all over with olive oil. Sprinkle half the herbs over the lamb and rub in well too. Put the lamb in the oven and roast for 20 minutes then turn the heat down to 140 C° and cook for another 4-4 1/2 hours. Ovens vary so you will have to keep an eye on it. If it seems to be cooking too fast - unlikely, but ovens are odd - turn the heat down. Basically the fat and juices should be gently bubbling away and you should be able to smell the meat cooking.
  2. Baste the meat occasionally and pour off (and keep) any surplus fat that accumulates but do not open the oven door too often as it reduces the heat. Once you appear to have got rid of most of the fat (after 2 1/2-3 hours or once it stops accumulating in the pan) baste the meat again, sprinkle a little more herbs over the meat and add the wine to the pan. Keep checking to ensure the pan juices are not burning which will spoil your sauce, (add more wine or a little water if they look like getting dry). When the meat is cooked and falling away from the bone put it on a carving plate and leave it in a warm place. Add about 150ml stock and work off the stuck-on juices. Skim or spoon off the lamb fat you have set aside and you should find some jellied meat juices. Add those too. Check the seasoning, adding a little salt and pepper to taste, then strain the gravy into a small saucepan. If you have time, leave it to cool a little then you can skim the sauce again. Cut the meat into large chunks and serve on a large platter. Reheat the meat juices and serve in a warm jug.

Variations

  • You could roast a large joint of pork like this too.

Leftovers

  • See idea for cottage pie adaptation in the previous recipe. If you just have meat leftover, shred it, fry lightly with a few spices and serve warm with a couscous or quinoa salad.

Thirfty tip

  • Because this dish cooks for such a long time it's best made with older lamb or mutton rather than expensive new season's lamb.
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