I realized that I haven’t been posting a lot of recipes lately. I’ve been working through some dishes that I didn’t get to try while I was in Ballymaloe. I’ve also been clearing out the cupboards and last week, to my surprise, I found a shoulder of lamb lingering at the bottom of our freezer chest. I’m not sure how long it had been there but I was delighted to discover it! After some deliberation, I figured the only course of action would be to slow roast the beast and add plenty of flavour with garlic and rosemary. This technique will also work well (better in fact) with a fresh shoulder. The process of slow roasting breaks down any fibres and results in meat that will pull easily from the bone. Cooking with the bone in may make it a pain to carve at the end, but the added flavour far outweighs this downside. Don’t worry about the long cooking time; you don’t need to do anything with the meat, just put it into the oven and forget about it – simple! I served my lamb with mashed potato, spinach and ricotta, wild garlic pesto and gravy but you can serve it with anything that takes your fancy.
1 Shoulder of Lamb (on the bone)
10 cloves of Garlic
3 sprigs of Rosemary (cut into 4 cm lengths)
1 Onion (roughly chopped)
2 Carrots (roughly chopped)
2 sticks of Celery (roughly chopped)
200ml Lamb/Chicken Stock + extra for Gravy
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
1 tbsp Cornflour + extra if thick Gravy is desired
Sea Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 120 Deg C.
2. Peel 5 of the garlic cloves and cut into little batons. With a sharp knife, pierce the top of the shoulder of lamb all over to a depth of 2 cm. In each slit place a baton of garlic and a piece of rosemary. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.
3. Place the remaining garlic cloves, onion, carrots and celery into a baking dish that will fit the shoulder of lamb snuggly. Put the lamb on top of the vegetables and pour the stock into the tray – it should cover the vegetables easily and only the bottom of the lamb should be sitting in it. If it is not covering the vegetables, add a little more.
4. Cover the tray with a couple of layers of foil and put into the preheated oven. Cook for 7-8 hours until the meat is tender and falling off the bone. Remove the meat from the tray, put on a plate and put back into the oven (ensure the oven is turned off) while you make the gravy.
5. Strain the liquid in the pan and degrease. This can be done in several ways but the easiest is to put the juices in a jug and put into the fridge. After 10 minutes or so the fat should rise to the top and can be spooned off easily. If you are making it a day ahead, you can allow the fat to solidify, make a hole in it and pour off the fat-free juices.
6. Pour the de-greased juices into a pan with the mustard and set over a medium heat. If there isn’t enough to make gravy for the amount you want, add some stock. Bring to a simmer before taking a ladle of the gravy out and putting into a large mug. Add the cornflour and stir well to remove as many lumps as possible. Pour the cornflour mix back into the gravy pan and bring to a boil, whisking vigorously. If you would like it thicker, repeat the process again.
7. Check the gravy for seasoning and keep warm.
8. Remove the lamb from the oven and pull the meat from the bone. Season and serve with your chosen accompaniments and gravy.