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Slow roast shoulder of lamb with merguez spices Image

Slow roast shoulder of lamb with merguez spices

Gelf Alderson

Recipe from Gelf Alderson - Head Chef at River Cottage

Lamb shoulder is an underrated cut. Treated to a very long, slow cook with pungent spices, it offers meltingly soft, flavourful meat that you can pull off the bone easily – as well as a pool of rich juices. This recipe works best with larger, more mature lambs, or hogget or mutton. You can also rub the spice paste on the inside of a boned lamb shoulder, then roll and tie it. Give it an initial 30 minutes at a high temperature (as below) then roast at 160°C/Gas Mark 3 for 2½ hours.

Serves 6–10, depending on the size of the joint

1 shoulder of mature lamb, mutton or hogget, on the bone

For the spice paste:

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

½ cinnamon stick, broken up

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

A pinch of cayenne pepper or chilli powder

2 teaspoons sweet smoked paprika

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Leaves from 2 large rosemary sprigs, finely chopped

2 teaspoons sea salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

If you have time, toast the cumin, coriander, fennel seeds, cinnamon and peppercorns in a dry frying pan over a medium heat for a minute or so, until fragrant (this boosts the flavour but isn’t essential). Crush to a coarse powder using a pestle and mortar, then combine with the cayenne or chilli powder, paprika, garlic, rosemary, salt and olive oil.

Lightly score the skin of the meat with a sharp knife, making shallow slashes just a few millimetres deep and 1–2cm apart. Rub half the spice paste all over the lamb shoulder, underneath as well as on top, and especially into the cuts. Put into a large roasting tin and place in an oven preheated to 220°C/Gas Mark 7. Roast for 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and rub the remaining spice paste over the meat using the back of a wooden spoon. Pour a glass of water into the tin (not over the meat), cover with foil and return to the oven. Reduce the heat to 120°C/Gas Mark ½ and cook for 6 hours, or until the meat is very tender and falling off the bone. You can add another glass of water halfway through, to keep the pan juices ticking along.

Transfer the lamb to a warm serving plate. Skim the excess fat off the juices in the tin. Tear the meat into thick shreds and serve with the juices spooned over. Simple accompaniments are all you need: boiled new potatoes (in summer) or some roasted squash (in winter) and a dish of shredded cabbage, greens or kale would be ideal.

This recipe features in “River Cottage Every Day”, published by Bloomsbury Publishing plc, and available from rivercottage.net. Photography - Simon Wheeler. 


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