Easter is around the corner and I am excited! Not because of any religious meaning, but because there will be lamb. There has to be lamb, and I will take any excuse for cooking a proper lamb roast! This roast is so easy, you can barely call it cooking: cut some veggies, season the meat and put it into the oven. Then you wait. It’s called slowfood for a reason. You will be rewared with sweet, tender meat falling off the bone. So what are you waiting for, start roasting!
In the picture above I used leg of lamb, but I recommend you buy a nice shoulder. Yes, the whole thing. Shoulder is a little fatter, but even more delicious and the flesh is extremely tender. It’s also nearly impossible to overcook it, so if you are a beginner, there is literally nothing to fear. Just give it time.
At easter you can buy the new spring lamb, which is quite popular even to people who usually dislike the typical lamb flavour. But I prefer older lamb like hogget or mutton. I think a lamb should taste like a lamb, not like veal. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t seek out the lamb that tastes like deeply inhaling in a sheep stable, but I think you need some decent flavour. So I typically buy the biggest shoulder I can get and I suggest you do the same. Bigger means older means more flavour. Two kilos is a nice starting point. The spices and long roasting time will take care of any “excess” lamb aroma anyways.
Spices. Oh, spices, my culinary love. What would cooking be without spices and herbs? Lamb can take some strong spices and to be honest, it really goes with anything, so feel free to create your own mixture. If you don’t want to get creative, buy some premade mixtures like ras-el-hanout, baharat or even garam masala. Or just smash some fresh herbs with salt, garlic and a little olive oil with pestle and mortar. Rosemary is a classic. Mint works great, as all other “hard” herbs like thyme will do.
When your lamb roast is ready, let it rest at least thirty minutes. You can use this waiting time to smash the veggies that have been roasting under the lamb and make a nice gravy without much effort. Remove any excess fat from the tray, but don’t throw it away, this will come handy for the next roasted veggies or the next steak. Stir in one or two tablespoons of flour, add water, stock or wine and let the gravy boil down to your desired consistency.
After you pulled off the last bits of flesh from the bones, the best part starts. Now it’s time to pull out your inner Conan and gnaw at the bones. There are always some juicy bits left, and no good barbarian would throw anything away, right? I like to freeze the bones for later use as a base for a really good stock. Free bone broth for everybody!
- 2kg Shoulder of lamb, bone-in
- 3-4 Onions
- 2-3 Apples, quinces if in season or simply carrots
- Spices as described above
- Preheat the oven to 220°C. Peel the onions, quarter them, together with the apples, and put everything on a roasting tray.
- Score the shoulder of lamb with a sharp knife all over and massage with your spice rub or pesto.
- Put the shoulder on the veggies, add a swig of water or vinegar and cover tightly with baking paper and tin foil or a well fitting lid.
- Put the lamb into the oven, turn down the temperature to 150°C and roast for four to five hours, depending on the size of the shoulder.
Yes, it’s really that simple. There will be leftovers, which you can use in stews, pies or even sandwiches. Oh and I forgot to mention that shoulder is pretty much the cheapest cut of lamb you can buy. So you’ve got a really cheap, extremely simple recipe that will provide you with lots of leftovers for the next days. What’s not to love about this one?
Use the macros of a fatter lamb cut and the veggies you have used. This dish won’t obviously fit if your calories are fairly low (under 1500kcal) but if you have the chance, plan around it by eating very lean protein on the other meals. It is definitely worth it!
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