Lamb Shoulder, roasted low and slow, soft as butter to cut, retaining a crispy salty crust, and oozing with flavour. A secondary cut like a lamb shoulder is cheaper, but has richer pickings when cooked right. As the joint is slightly fatty, the meat succulently melts when slow roasted, the fat keeping the meat tender and moist.
The real revelation though were the carrots which were roasted on the bottom shelf of the oven in a separate dish to avoid soaking up all the cooking juices and turning into mush. The carrots shrink a little while slow roasting, leaving a thin skin covering the withered root, that blisters when the heat is cranked up at the end to finish. They were soft, dense, rich and complex. Totally transformed from the one note of flavour you get from raw carrot.
I picked up the shoulder from the local butchers for €12, about half the price of a small leg of lamb. I brined the the lamb overnight in a salt and sugar rub (5og of each), rubbed into the joint, then wrapped in clingfilm and left in a roasting tray in the fridge. Take the lamb out of the fridge an hour before, remove the clingfilm, pour away any excess liquid and let stand to come to room temperature (approx an hour). Preheat your oven to 120°C, and place the shoulder in a large roasting dish. Pour in a cup of water, add bunches of herbs, halved lemons, garlic and tightly cover the roasting tray with tin foil. The water will steam while cooking, further keeping the the meat moist. Roast for a minimum of 4 hours – though try for 6 hours if you have the time. When you are about 30 mins from the end of the roast time, remove the tin foil covering and turn the heat right up to 220°C and blast the joint so the skin crisps and crackles up. Take out of the oven and let rest for at least 20 mins before going near it with a knife.
The slow roasted carrots were just a way of trying something else out while the lamb was cooking. Simply seasoned and coated with a little oil and a tablespoon of butter. Placed uncovered on the bottom of the oven for 6 hours, same as the lamb, and blasted for the final 30 mins, same as the lamb. Simplicity itself. Served with peppery nasturtium leaves and petals.
No photos (unfortunately) – but for side dishes I made a Pickled Plum, Yoghurt and Black Sesame Seed dressing. Cauliflower Purée, and Pearl Barley with Beetroot.