My husband lived and worked in England for many years where lamb rules for the holidays. He had a craving for a slow roasted shoulder of lamb this Christmas and he knew he had to have mint sauce to go with it. We have a dear friend who is from England who sourced the lamb for me here in Cabo while I scoured my favorite British recipes. I felt I couldn’t go wrong using Nigel Slater and Jamie Oliver’s suggestions and the end result had my husband’s glowing approval.
Our plan was to slow roast it in the oven at 320 degrees but when we got up on Christmas morning, we did not have any power. I had just massaged the herb and garlic rub into the meat and my hands were full of garlic, anchovies and olive oil when I realized that we had no water either. My husband came to the rescue with a big bowl of water from the pantry that we save in case of hurricanes. We switched gears from indoor oven to outdoor grill and cranked it up to 500 degrees. When we put the meat on the grill, we turned down the temperature immediately to 300 and slow roasted it for about 4 hours. The temperature was slow coming down but the results could not have been better. The aroma that came off the roasting lamb was so tantalizing that I thought my neighbors would be knocking on my door.
Note: If cooking in the oven, place the lamb in a 500 degree pre-heated oven, turn the heat down immediately to 320.
2 kg lamb shoulder with bone in – With the tip of a sharp knife, make shallow scores through the outer layer of skin and fat of the lamb shoulder, but not into the meat, cross-hatching the entire surface.
1 whole bulb of garlic – cloves peeled
Fresh rosemary sprigs – I used a large – leaves only
Thyme springs – 8-10 – leaves only
8 anchovy filets – you will not be able to taste the anchovies – they melt and give the meat a glorious flavor. No need for any extra salt.
Using a mortar and pestle, crush the peeled garlic cloves with course sea salt until it makes a paste. Chop the rosemary, thyme and the anchovies together and add to the crushed garlic. (You could use a food processor but there is something wonderful about slowly making the paste with the lovely smells of the garlic and herbs). Add a few tablespoons of olive oil so that you can easily massage it into the meat. Get in there with your hands and really massage this paste into the lamb shoulder.
Place the lamb in a roasting pan with high sides, pour water in the bottom of the pan so that it is pan is covered by 1 to 2 inches using 2 or 3 cups of water. This makes a wonderful gravy for the Mint Sauce (see below).
Cover tightly with aluminum foil and place in the oven or on the grill and roast for several hours. It was interesting that neither Nigel or Jamie would give exact roasting times but 4 to 5 hours should be perfect. Remove from the oven and allow to rest while you make the mint sauce. Forget about carving this easy slow-cooked roast – pull the fragrant, tender lamb from the bone, rustic style.
1 Tablespoon flour
1 large bunch of fresh mint, leaves picked
2 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
Sauce in the bottom of the roasting pan – pour away most of the fat
Remove the lamb from the roasting pan and let sit while you make the mint sauce.
Remove as much fat as you can from the juices at the bottom of the roasting pan. Place on medium heat on the stove top and add flour. Stir until it sauce begins to thicken, then add the mint and the red wine vinegar – keep stirring until it reaches your desired thickness. You don’t need tons of this gravy because it so flavorful. Spoon over the meat, mashed potatoes and steamed greens for the perfect holiday meal.