A weekend lunch for 10 people was a chance to cook the kind of feast I don’t get to cook often enough. I got two shoulders of lamb, then realised I couldn’t fit them both on the grill, so cooked one on the grill, and one slow roasted. The house we were staying in had apricots and mulberries, which added a lovely late summer feel to each dish.
Slow Cooked Lamb Shoulder
This is a glorious recipe which takes a few hours to cook, but not much of your time. Trim the fat off a shoulder of lamb – either with or without the bone in and allow the joint to come to room temperature. Take half a pack of butter and cream it with a teaspoon of smoked paprika, ground caraway, ground toasted cumin, black pepper and smoked salt, Rub this all over the lamb. Massage it into the lamb and throw in a handful of mulberries and apricots. If you don’t have a mulberry bush, don’t worry. They do add a lovely juicy piquancy to the dish, but it’s still great without them. Start it in a hot oven (210°C) for 20 minutes, and then reduce the heat to 160°C and cook for three hours. Every 20 minutes or so, baste the joint with the pan juices and butter. At this point, cover it with foil if it’s already well coloured, and give it a final half hour or so, until the meat is falling off the bone.
Grilled Lamb Shoulder
Bone out the lamb shoulder (or ask your butcher to do it) and butterfly the shoulder until the lamb is a fairly even thickness. Marinade it in three cloves of crushed garlic and the juice of two lemons for an hour or so while you light your barbecue.
When it’s ready to cook, start the lamb with the skin side down. Leave it like that for about 15 minutes. Around the outside add some halved onions drizzled on the cut surface with a little oil. When these are cooked, the underside will be really blackened like this:
Take them off the barbecue when they’re cooked through, let them cool a moment, and then remove and discard the blackened skin leaving you with the soft and smoky inner bit of the onion.
Turn the lamb and cook for another 10 minutes or so. If you have apricots, cook a few around the lamb while it finished off. Check the lamb and turn it a few more times until it is as cooked as you want it. If the skin has blackened too much, as in the photo at the top, remove it when you carve the joint.
Carve and arrange both joints and serve everything on a big platter with the onions and grilled apricots. Spoon over the cooking juices from the slow cooked lamb, into which the fruits will have melted.
We served this with saffron rice pilaff and garlicky swiss chard – it was a fitting celebration for a holiday weekend with friends.