Very slow roasted shoulder of lamb with merguez spices

Food & drink
Very slow roasted shoulder of lamb with merguez spices

A shoulder of lamb is a hefty cut, but it’s cheap and it goes a long way.

This method leaves the lamb falling apart, tender from the best part of a day in the oven.

It’s very satisfying and relaxing to know that something great is happening in your oven at home whilst you’re out doing mundane things.  My mind often wanders towards the slow cooker or low oven at home when I’m trapped in dull meetings at work, talking round and round in circles yet again.  They can keep their little empires and office politics – I’ll have my roast lamb instead.

Toast a teaspoon each of cumin, coriander and fennel seeds together in a dry frying pan with a teaspoon of black peppercorns and half a stick of cinnamon until they start to take on some colour and smell exotic.  Grind the spices to a rough powder in a pestle and mortar or old coffee grinder.

Add a good pinch of cayenne pepper, two teaspoons of smoked paprika, two teaspoons of salt, two finely chopped cloves of garlic and the finely chopped leaves from couple of large sprigs of rosemary.  Mix together well.

Add enough olive oil to the spices to create a sticky but loose paste.

The spices add a pungent North African feel to the meat.  These are the same spices used in the Muergez sausage, popular in Libya, Tunisia and Algeria, although I’d hazard a guess that the proportion of cayenne is a lot larger in North Africa than here.

Next, prepare the lamb.  With a sharp knife, score the skin of the lamb in a diamond pattern, cutting no more than a couple of millimetres into the flesh.  Rub half of the spice paste into the meat, massaging it in well.

Roast the joint for half an hour at 220C, then use a spoon to spread the rest of the spice mix over the top of the meat.  Add a glass of water to the roasting tray to get the juices going, and cover the tray with foil.

The initial hot half hour just gets the cooking going and gives the meat some colour.  It’s an essential part of the HFW theory of meat roasting.

Turn the heat right down to 120C and leave to cook for at least six whole hours.

Very slow roasted shoulder of lamb with merguez spices

After this time, the meat should be falling off the bone, so just tear it into chunks.  Lamb shoulder is a joint that can’t really be carved with any elegance, so just hack away.

The lamb will be tender and delicious, warm and quite irresistible.

The pan juices are spicey and hot, and should be served poured over the meat.  Eat with something green – cabbage, broccoli, that sort of thing, and some roasted squash or potatoes.  This lamb is also superb stuffed into a pita bread with some salad.

This recipe is from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Everyday.

16 comments… add one

  • MaryMoh Apr 4, 2010

    That looks very delicious. I love lamb…both the taste, smell and texture. I haven't tried roasting them, usually stir fried or in curry. Hope to try roating one day. Thanks for sharing

  • lululu Apr 4, 2010

    I cant agree no more, slow cooked meat is perfect in terms of taste and availability for yourself to do other businesses!
    I love the large variety of spice that you put with it, it must be super flavorful.

  • Cookin' Canuck Apr 4, 2010

    I would be so happy to come home to this after a long work day. The combination of spices sounds fantastic!

  • Mardi @eatlivetravel Apr 4, 2010

    What a great looking dish with all those spices and the falling off the bone meat…

  • Mae Apr 4, 2010

    Mouthwatering spices and a beautiful lamb!

  • WizzyTheStick Apr 4, 2010

    I love roasted lamb and I love trying different spice blends. This one looks like a winner

  • foodlovee Apr 4, 2010

    Slow cooked roast lamb is so good yours is just look mouth watering.

  • Jessie Apr 4, 2010

    the flavors, spices and texture of this lamb shoulder roast looks so divine!

  • Rochelle Apr 4, 2010

    I'm trying not to drool all over the place! That looks ooooh sooo good!

  • wasabi prime Apr 4, 2010

    What a fantastic meal to come home to, after it's been slow roasting all day. I'll have to work this one out for our crock pot. I love lamb, and all these seasonings with it sound so savory and amazing.

  • Conor @ HoldtheBeef Apr 4, 2010

    This just looks too tasty for its own good!

  • Cheah Apr 4, 2010

    The lamb looks so tempting and congrats on being top 9

  • Divina Pe Apr 4, 2010

    This is absolutely lip-smacking, stick-to-the-rib lamb. What a comfort food.

  • Irmhild Sep 12, 2010

    yum, we just had this this evening and it was delicious! when my husband lifted the bone all the meat just fell off. we had it with roast potatoes and spinach.

    i was just looking for the recipe online because a friend came by and had a taste.

    There was 3 of us eating (one of them not quite 2 years old), (really stuffing ourselves, it was so delicious). We gave a small portion to the friend to take home, and I think we have more than half the meat leftover for tomorrow! pita bread sounds great, and easy, or i might make a cool yoghurt sauce, persian salad and basmati rice fried with green beens, parsley and dill.

  • Justina Pettifer Sep 3, 2011

    i have cooked this recipe for visits by the family, dinner parties etc and it works really well. Lovely to serve with fresh cherry / plum tomatoes salad. Works well on the plate warm meat with cold accompaniments.

  • Somayah Mar 19, 2012

    I made this over the weekend, and it was my first time making lamb. I did tweak it a little, based on what my family likes, and that i didn’t have any seed, just powders. Either way, this came out absolutely amazing!!! so tender, and the taste was just so so wonderful.

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