That’d be a great name for a band, wouldn’t it? Anyway, been a long time between drinks around here but in the interests of keeping this going, I posted this on my personal Facebook and people seemed to like it so thought I’d share with anyone hanging around this place. The idea was a nice Saturday roast using lamb shoulder – something I’ve not cooked with before, funnily enough – after picking up a couple down at Vic’s at Pyrmont. What follows turned out pretty well, though I wish I’d had some lamb stock handy to make a bit of a winey jus to class things up a bit.
With that I give you … Lamb Shoulder Experiment.
1. Get around five or six good-sized waxy potatoes (kestrel, desiree, whatever’s handy), peel and slice reasonably thinly (a mandolin is perfect for this) into a large bowl. Do the same with three or four yellow onions. Toss this together with just some salt and pepper and as much fresh thyme as you can be bothered destemming, and shingle this into the bottom of a big roasting pan. This will be the ba…sis for your pommes boulangere.
2. On top of this, place one or two (depending on how big your crowd, but remember there’s a lot of bone so you’ll need more than you think) lamb shoulders. Spike with the point of a sharp knife and insert garlic cloves into the incisions.
3. Pour about 500ml – 1l chicken stock (you do have some you made yourself in the freezer, yes? No? I won’t tell) into the pan just to around the top of the potatoes, and place the whole thing into a low oven — maybe 130-140c/250-275f. Get a good book and read a hundred or so pages and have a little nap. Wake up in four hours.
4. At this point the lamb should start to get really tender. Check it, say to the family, “I wanna give that lamb another half an hour. Nobody’s starving are they?” When assured that no one is going to gnaw their own or anyone else’s arm off, make a gin and tonic and pick a bottle of wine. CRUCIAL POINT: Don’t do what I did and pick a random NSW shiraz that someone brought to a party and winds up being too fruity for the dish. Open something nice from the Pyrennes region of Victoria, or a grunty Cotes du Rhone, even a humble Villages-level will do the trick, but if you want to pull the cork on a Vieux-Telegraphe that’s a matter for you so long as I’m invited. An earthier Cab Sav (Coonawarra) or a nice GSM blend would also work.
5. At this point you should take the lamb shoulder and depending on how ready they are — ie a knife should just slide in — either (a) move the meat into another roasting pan or (b) take it out to rest. This is to enable the potatoes to crisp up without a big hunk of meat getting in the way. Also, chuck some green beans into a pot of salted boiling water.
6. After letting the meat rest and the beans cook and the potatoes crisp, you’re ready to go. Carve and serve, no fancy presentation required, but make sure everyone gets some of the fatty skin, which is sticky and glorious and like lamb’s answer to pork belly crackling.