For someone who had only ever tasted lamb once before I moved over to the UK, I have become a fast and firm lover of this glorious meat. The only time I'd had it back in Canada, was the time my mother thought she would try to cook us some lamb chops. They smelled like mittens burning in the frying pan, and that was the end of that. We never had it again. I'm afraid that experience kind of put me off of it . . . for a very long time.
At our wedding meal, which was held in a Brewer's Fayre pub here in the UK, I decided to be brave, and chose Lamb Loins with a Cumberland Sauce as my meal. The rest is history. I fell in love at first bite, and it's been a happy love affair that has grown from strength to strength ever since!
Oh, I do love a nice lamb chop . . . seasoned and seared until it is just pink inside . . . likewise rack of lamb or leg of lamb. Tender and pink and oh so tasty. The Salt Marsh Lamb over here is the best in the world and a real treat to eat. Although it costs more, I try to eat Welsh or British Lamb over any imported lamb. It's rather strange really that home grown lamb should cost more than the foreign stuff . . . but I do have to say, it is well worth the extra expense!
My favourite cut has to be the shoulder. When cooked properly, this has got to be the tenderest, most flavourful cut of meat ever. Rich and succulent, it is just packed full of taste . . . and it's so very easy to cook. It doesn't take special techniques, or talents. It doesn't even take special spices and herbs. You could do a really tasty shoulder, using nothing but salt and pepper as far as that goes! This is the roast that really cooks itself!
A sprinkle of seasalt and pepper, and a gentle massaging with some olive oil . . . then laid to rest on a bed of rosemary sprigs and garlic cloves . . . and gently blanketed with more . . . this is the roast that is quite happy to be ignored until about half an hour before serving.
And then . . . oh my goodness . . . tender deliciousness that falls apart at the touch of a fork . . . oh so scrummy, served up with a big pan of oven roasted root vegetables . . . carrots, swede, parsnips, beetroot . . . oh and a bit of butternut squash thrown into the roasting pan as well, coz it was there . . . and I felt like it. Oh so sweet and delicious . . . and just perfect with this tender lamb. Some freshly mashed potatoes and Bisto on the side and lashings of Mint Sauce proved this to be a most delectably gratifying, if humble . . . Sunday lunch!
*Slow Roast Shoulder of Lamb*
Serves 6 to 8, depending on appetites
Deliciously tender. Nothing could be easier. This roast cooks itself. I like to serve this with a pan of roasted vegetables . . . butternut squash, beetroot, carrots, parsnips, swede, and a big pot of mashed spuds.
1 (2kg) shoulder of lamb, bone in
a bunch of fresh rosemary
a handful of garlic cloves, unpeeled
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Crack your oven up to the highest temperature it will go. You will need a large casserole roaster with a lid.
Take your piece of meat and cut slashes in a diagonal pattern across the fat on the top of it with a sharp knife. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle generously with some sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Rub this into the meat with your hands.
Place half of the rosemary sprigs and the garlic into the bottom of the roasting dish. Drizzle with olive oil. Place the lamb on top. This bed of herbs and garlic will act as a trivet and flavour the meat. Top your lamb with the remaining rosemary and garlic.
Cover and place into the preheated oven. Immediately reduce the oven temperature to 170*C/325*F/ gas mark 3. Cook, undisturbed for 4 hours. By then it should be deliciously tender. Remove from the oven and set aside, tented with foil to rest for about half an hour. Use two forks to tear off pieces of the meat for eating.
You can make a gravy with the juices, but I find it has an odd green tint which we don't like and it is difficult to get rid of all the fat. So I just use Bisto. You can squeeze some of the garlic out of the skins to mash and serve with the meat though. It's really quite mellow and delicious.