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Slow-roast shoulder of lamb

Updated: Wed, 6 March, 2024

Roasted shoulder of lamb cooked slow and low on the bone is a match for a good few finer cuts. The fat melts away, the skin crispens up and the aromatics flavour the meat gorgeously.

Slow roast shoulder of lamb

Low temperature cooking

Cooking meat in a very low oven for a very long time gives quite similar results as does sous-vide – and without the hassle, the stress and the apparatus. The meat, be it roast lamb, beef or poultry, gets unbelievably tender but not dried out, and the flavours intensify.

Certain cuts can’t be cooked any other way and lamb shoulder is the best example.

Cheap cuts are easy to cook

Butterflied, or de-boned shoulder of lamb is arguably much easier to cook and carve but there’s no comparison in taste between that and meat cooked on the bone.

Besides, it’s going to be pulled meat; it will virtually walk away from the bones and you won’t need a knife to carve it so the advantages disappear. Even when cooking half a shoulder for two or three people, I always keep the bone in.

Lamb shoulder and potato pot

Super low and super slow roasting

I’d love to do an overnight roast one day: like Heston Blumenthal’s roast chicken from ‘In Search of Perfection’ book series. The bird roasted at 100C or thereabouts so in a barely warm oven.

But at the time my oven was an ancient gas one and I lived (still do) with a wannabe Health and Safety guru who wouldn’t dream of keeping a gas oven on while we slept. I pondered the possibility of sticking the bird on the radiator instead for a similar effect but laughed myself out of the kitchen on that idea.

As it is, roasted at 170C the lamb is still simply amazing. The flavourings in the marinade work their magic overnight, the anchovy and garlic pushed into the meat are a great pairing with fatty lamb shoulder and a bonus: potatoes cook underneath the roast.

If you have no casserole dish large enough to house the lamb and all, use a deep roaster and cover it tightly with foil for the initial period.

How to marinate lamb shoulder?

Marinade is important but what's super-important is salting the meat the moment you bring it back home. Even if it is going to sit in the fridge for a couple of days before it's cooked. Salt is truly a magic ingredient and it both flavours and tenderises the meat.

Apart from salt, my favourite combo for lamb is as below: rosemary, mint and garlic. If you have some truffle oil in your store cupboard - and people do, for years - this is the moment to use it. It gives the lamb unbelievably rich and luxurious taste.

But anchovies are also quite magic on lamb - I stud my joint with slivers of garlic and bits of anchovy before it goes into the oven.

marinating lamb shoulder

How long is long?

Additional bonus of this recipe is potatoes and onions, which form a base for the lamb shoulder to sit on. True, they won't be very appetising when the meat is removed - rather on the soggy side - but a few minutes under the grill will do wonders.

aromatics for lamb shoulder roast

I cook my lamb shoulder for most of an afternoon and that's how you get the meltingly tender, pulled meat. That's the beauty of cheap cuts and slow cooking: season it, put it in the roasting tin and into the oven and you can forget all about it - if the divine smell lets you.

oven ready lamb shoulder

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Roast leg of lamb on the bone, cooked medium, pinkish in the middle and with a crispy skin, is the perfect Easter Sunday lunch. Half a leg for four, whole leg for a crowd, just adjust the cooking time per pound of weight.

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Herb and parmesan crusted rack of lamb, delicious rosemary crust and a great flavour. French trimmed rack of lamb is cooked most commonly but it doesn't have to be trimmed.

Roast lamb shoulder

Slow-roast shoulder of lamb

Servings: 4Time: 6 hours roasting plus marinating


  • For the marinade:
  • a large bunch of rosemary
  • a bunch of mint
  • 4 large garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup or honey
  • 1 tbsp truffle oil (optional)
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • zest from one lemon
  • 3-4 tbsp groundnut or olive oil
  • For the lamb:
  • a whole shoulder of lamb
  • 1 kilo (2 pounds) waxy potatoes
  • 1 red onion
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic
  • a few sprigs of rosemary
  • a few anchovy fillets in oil, drained
  • ½ litre (2 cups) lamb, chicken or vegetable stock, hot


1. Strip leaves off the rosemary and mint, peel the garlic. Blend the marinade ingredients together in a food processor or a large mortar and pestle. Spread over the lamb and marinate overnight, preferably, or at least for a few hours.

2. Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/gas 3.

3. Scrub and slice the potatoes, peel and slice the onion. Peel the garlic and cut it into slivers.

4. Place the sliced potatoes and onion with rosemary sprigs at the bottom of a large casserole or a baking tray (in which case you’ll need to cover it with aluminium foil for the roasting).

5. Score the skin side of the lamb in diagonal pattern, then make incisions all over the joint with a tip of a sharp knife and stuff bits of anchovy and slivers of garlic into them.

6. Arrange the lamb on top of the potatoes, pour in hot stock and cover with a lid or tightly with aluminium foil. Roast for 4-5 hours depending on the size of the shoulder.

7. After that time take the lid/cover off and increase the heat to 200C/400F/gas 6. Roast for another hour until the skin is crispy. Remove the lamb onto a warm platter to rest.

8. The potatoes will be soggy and not terribly appetizing so scoop them out with a slotted spoon onto a small roasting tray and place under a hot grill for 10-15 minutes while the lamb is resting. Serve around the lamb shoulder.

Originally published: Thu, 2 October, 2014

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Anna @ CuisineFiend
Hi Valerie - all the best to you all and I hope you enjoy it!
3 years ago
Valerie Ling
Sounds wonderful. I intend trying this tomorrow, when my daughter and her partner come for lunch after long, arduous COVID19 lockdowns and all the difficulties that brought.
3 years ago

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Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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