If you’re a regular reader of this blog you’ll know that I have a thing for slow cooked lamb such as this soy and garlic braised lamb shoulder or this slow cooked lamb pasta but this recipe by Jamie Oliver is the daddy of them all. Talk about a lot of bang for your buck! First you have the advantage of using a relatively inexpensive cut of meat then add to that the very little amount of effort it takes to transform it into a stellar meal and you have the formula for a great recipe that has oodles of wow factor. Anyway enough of the superlatives and onto the recipe. I say a little amount of effort but that doesn’t necessarily translate to a fast meal. In fact the lamb shoulder needs to be marinated overnight and then cooked for a good few hours. So it’s certainly not one of Jamie’s 15 minute meals but the time involved is mostly inactive cooking and the only real effort, if you can call it that, is to trim the lamb, make a spice paste and slice a few onions. I doubled the recipe below as I was cooking for ten people and I can highly recommend this meal if you’re feeding a crowd but it’s just as wonderful for a family dinner. I’ve made a few changes to the recipe, mainly increasing the amount of sliced onions in the bottom of the pan. They soak up all the spices and cooking juices from the lamb and create a wonderful sauce that you can’t have too much of. I paired the lamb with a chickpea curry, basmati rice and some raita. This is a warm and comforting meal for the colder months but I could just as easily eat this on a hot and steamy day with a cold beer and some naan bread. As Jamie would say, lovely jubbly!
Ingredients – serves 4 generously Adapted from Jamie Oliver
1 large whole shoulder of lamb – about 1.8 – 2kg
4 heaped tablespoons tikka paste (recipe below)
1 long red chilli sliced – you can take out the seeds or leave it out entirely
4 garlic cloves, sliced
2-3 sprigs of mint, leaves picked
4 large onions, thinly sliced
1 heaped tablespoon sugar
Tikka Paste – makes more than you need but the leftovers can be stored in the fridge for another day
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
2 garlic cloves
A thumb size piece of ginger, peeled
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper – or replace with 1 teaspoon mild sweet paprika if you don’t want it spicy
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 heaped teaspoon best quality mild curry powder
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 red chillies – you can cut this down to 1 chilli and take put the seeds if you want it be less spicy
Small bunch coriander
2 tablespoons desiccated coconut
2 tablespoons almond meal
½ teaspoon salt
For the paste, place all the ingredients in a food processor and whiz until smooth. Trim the lamb shoulder of any large deposits of excess fat but don’t go overboard – you need some fat to help keep the meat moist over the long cooking time. Score the fat side of the lamb with a sharp knife and then stab it a few times to make little holes. Stuff the holes with the pieces of chilli and garlic and spread the tikka paste all over the lamb, making sure it gets into every nook and cranny. Cover and marinade in the fridge overnight, or even a couple of days.
When ready to cook, take the lamb out of the fridge to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 170C (or 160C fan force). In a deep roasting pan just large enough to hold the lamb (if the pan is too big the onions will burn) arrange the onions slices on the bottom and drizzle with the oil. Season with a little salt and add a heaped tablespoon or two of the left over tikka paste. Stir to coat the onions with the oil and seasonings and place the lamb on top, fat side up. Loosely cover with a piece of wet greaseproof paper and cook, basting occasionally for around 4 hours or until the coating is dark and gnarly and the meat very tender. When the lamb is about an hour away from being ready, add the sugar to the onions and stir around a little, this will help them caramelise a bit more and add a nice touch of sweetness to the sauce. I also tend to remove the baking paper at around the same time so as the meat has a chance to get a nice crust. Lamb shoulder is a pretty forgiving cut so if you want to cook it for longer just turn the heat down a bit. I always put it in about 5 – 5.5 hours before I need to serve it just to make sure I really get it to the falling off the bone stage.
Carefully remove the lamb from the pan onto a serving platter and leave to rest for 5 minutes. Place the onions and accumulated juices over and around the lamb. Sprinkle the torn mint leaves over the top and use 2 forks to pull apart the meat to serve. Accompany with rice, naan bread and raita.