Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Slow-Roasted Shoulder of Lamb

I've been using the slow-cooker a lot more these days, and with the temperatures dropping have also started using the oven more to slow-roast different meats. It's a handy way of warming the flat when I don't want to have the radiators on as well.

Of course, I am also aware that the tougher cuts of meat that do well with slow-cooking cost a lot less than other more popular roasting joints.

One good example here is the shoulder of lamb. This cut is not just cheaper, it is also more
Cuts of lamb
forgiving for new cooks and easier to cook than the leaner leg. You'd have to really go out of your way to overcook a shoulder, making it an ultimate bung it in the oven and forget about it roast.

You  can buy the shoulder with bone in, or filleted out and rolled. Just ask your butcher to do this if you don't feel comfortable doing it yourself. Personally, I prefer roasting with the bone in as that bone helps to flavour the meat. It is easier to carve however without the shoulder blade and other bones in the way.

Once boned, you can add different herbs or spices and other flavours into the center before rolling it up and roasting. It can also be cut into cubes for slow-cooking in a stew or other dish.

I buy mine with the bone in though, and leave it that way for roasting. True, it is not easily carved, but as it's just my sons and me none of us are all that fussed about perfection on a plate.

Shoulder of lamb

The shoulder is a flattish cut with the scapula, some of the ribs and possibly a part of the forearm. It has a thin layer of fat over the top and more marbled throughout. Slow-roasting allows all of those flavours to permeate through the meat.

A 1.8kg shoulder provided plenty of meat for myself and two teenage sons with a bit leftover.

I have now cooked this particular dish a few times and it is always a hit.

You will need:
  • 1 shoulder of lamb
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • 2 medium onion
  • 4 - 6 cloves garlic
  • fresh rosemary
  • fresh thyme


  1. Preheat the oven as hot as it will go with one rack in the middle of the oven.
  2. Use a sharp knife to score the layer of fat and cut pockets of about 1 cm depth across the top of the shoulder. 
  3. Cut the two onions in half around the equator (don't worry about peeling) and place cut side up in a roasting pan. Add half the fresh rosemary and thyme and half the crushed garlic cloves. 
  4. Cut the remaining garlic cloves into thin pieces and push those into each of the pockets along with 2 - 3 rosemary leaves and a bit of thyme. 
  5. Transfer the lamb into the roasting pan on top of the onions. Cover with any remaining fresh herbs, season generously with salt and pepper and drizzle olive oil over the top. 
  6. Pour about 1 cup water into the pan, cover tightly with foil. 
  7. Turn the oven down to a moderate heat, about 300f/150c/gas mark 2.
  8. Place the roasting pan in the oven and leave it for at least 3 hours, or more. I like to give it about 4 hours myself. 
  9. In the final hour, remove the foil and strain off any excess liquid into a pan. This will be used to make a meat broth gravy. Return the now uncovered roast to the oven to cook another 45 minutes. 
  10. Remove from the oven and carefully transfer the roast onto a serving platter. Cover with foil and leave to rest 10 - 15 minutes. 

Serve this with a seasonal vegetable and roast potatoes or other root vegetables.

You can pour some of the gravy over the top, or drizzle a spoonful or three of mint sauce.

Mint Sauce:
  • 1 handful fresh peppermint
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup malt vinegar

  1. Very finely chop the mint leaves, sprinkle about half the sugar over the leaves once chopped and continue finely chopping as this will help to pull out the oils. 
  2. Transfer to a small glass, add the remaining sugar and pour over the malt vinegar. Give it a quick stir then, and again before spooning out.