Lamb at Easter. I know it’s a bit of a cliché but some clichés are too good to ignore. I’ve had this slow cooked shoulder of lamb on my private chef menus since I set up Tara’s Table in Bristol seven years ago; different accompaniments and garnishes may come and go but it’s always a favourite and a roaring success. It can be cooked a few days in advance and then portioned and re-heated on the day. As well as saving the need for carving à la minute, it also yields a delicious stock which can be reduced afterwards, doctored or seasoned however you like, and used as a gravy or broth to serve with the lamb.
Buy a boned and rolled shoulder of lamb from your butcher. Season it generously with salt and pepper. Heat a large, heavy pan and brown the lamb on all sides. Put it into a deep roasting tray on a bed of carrot, onion & celery with a sprig of thyme and a few bay leaves. Pour nearly half a bottle of white wine and slightly more water into the pan so that it is about two inches deep, cover with a layer of parchment and then cover the whole lot tightly in foil and put into a very hot oven, at 220oC for the first 20 minutes; then turn the heat down to 150oC and cook, cook, cook until the lamb is very tender to the touch. Depending on the size of the shoulder, this will take 3 hours or maybe even a little longer but you can’t really overcook it, so be very patient.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool for a while before taking out the lamb and leaving it to drain. When it is not completely cold, but cool enough to handle, wrap it very tightly in cling film so that it is compact, and refrigerate. Strain the liquid and vegetables through a sieve and when it has cooled, put it in the fridge. The next day or a few hours later, any fat will have solidified on the top and can be removed in one piece, leaving a clear delicious lamb stock underneath.
When you are ready, slice the lamb into portions and re-heat on a tray in the oven at 180oC until warmed through and serve with whatever takes your fancy! It is delicious with salsa verde, another brilliant cliché, which cuts through the richness of the lamb beautifully.