This slow roasted lamb shoulder coaxes the meat to fall-apart tenderness in the oven while infusing it with the pervasive aroma and flavor of chile, orange, and honey.
This slow roasted lamb shoulder cooks low and slow, gently intensifying the flavors and coaxing the lamb to fall-apart-tenderness. And it couldn’t be any easier. Just toss some ingredients together, let them mingle in the fridge overnight, then toss it in the oven and forget about it for a few hours. Even better, notes author Annie Rigg, there’s no need to fuss with making gravy since the onions and oranges create beautiful pan juices. Originally published –Renee Schettler Rossi
Slow Roasted Lamb
- Quick Glance
- 30 M
- 11 H
- Serves 4 to 6
IngredientsEmail Grocery List
Recipe Testers Reviews
Well, this slow roasted lamb is a lovely dish and a subtly addictive mix of flavors.This was a big hit with my family of lamb lovers! I was a little concerned that there was not a lot of marinade, but it turned out to be just the right amount when mingled with the lamb juices. Not overpowering, just lovely flavors. I loved the warm smells from the toasting spices. The molasses caramelizes on the lamb and adds a bit of sweetness to the pan juices. There was a lot of fat, so I degreased the pan juices and added the roasted garlic to them. I used smoked paprika rather than ancho chile, and I think that was the better choice. The dish ends up with a slight smokiness, but not the chile heat. I couldn't find Seville oranges, so I used one Cara Cara navel and one lime. The timing worked perfectly for me. This piece of meat, at $15 per pound, was pretty expensive for a simple dish, and also a lot of meat for my small family. I know we'll eat it all up, but I could see trying this recipe, timings adjusted, with lamb shanks, which have the bonus of being less fatty.
Lamb is just about my favorite meat, so I jumped at the opportunity to make this slow roasted lamb for a special Sunday dinner with friends. Said friends had access to Seville oranges and brought me some since I couldn’t find any in my area stores. Score! Pomegranate molasses was no problem to come by and I was off marinating! I used a boneless, rolled-and-tied, grass-fed lamb shoulder that weighed 3 1/2 pounds. We all enjoyed the lamb, it seemed quite special and exotic, and it got me out of my usual garlic and rosemary routine. A roasting time of 2 1/2 hours total (I removed the lamb from the oven when it registered 160°F (71°C)) produced a tender, but not falling apart, lamb shoulder. I poured my pan juices into a measuring cup. I had 1/2 cup juice and 1/4 cup grease. I discarded the grease and then deglazed the pan with a little white wine and added that to my pan juices. A minor detail that I took issue with was the instruction to cut the garlic heads in half horizontally. If you do this, the smaller ends of the garlic cloves just fall right out of the papers, and then you have messy papers floating around the pan. I think a much better instruction (and this is what I did with my second garlic head) is to cut just the bottom third off, most of the garlic stays intact this way. Also, some of the orange wedges ended up fully soft from roasting in the pan juices, and some still remained a little firm. I used the soft oranges, the pulp pretty much dissolved, and sliced them into julienne and scattered over the lamb. It really added a bright note.
I liked this slow roasted treatment of lamb—something new to add to my own lamb traditions and assumptions. The shoulder was actually less commonly available than leg of lamb at this point in the year, but we did find a nice 4.8-pound shoulder. I did the recipe as written except I could not find Seville oranges so I substituted a navel orange and a lime. (I think a closer approximation might be a Valencia or tangelo and an extra lime as this substitution works well when making marmalade.) I chose a bottled pomegranate molasses that did not have sugar added (Carlo brand) to get a purer pomegranate flavor and I used ancho chile powder. The most important thing I WISH I had on hand for this was a 2-gallon, heavy-duty, resealable plastic bag, which would have made it much easier to manipulate and massage the lamb in the marinade. I used a plastic produce bag, and placed it inside a larger vessel for the overnight refrigeration. Plan on at least 90 minutes for the lamb to come to room temperature. After 2 1/2 hours at 300℉ (149°C), the lamb had an internal temperature of about 145 to 150℉ (63 to 66°C). After brushing on the pomegranate molasses and increasing the oven temperature to 375℉ (191°C), the surface was browned evenly and the internal temperatures was 157℉ (69°C) before tenting it with foil to rest. This was nice but not entirely falling-off-the-bone tender. I knew we would be eating only a portion and reheating the rest in subsequent days, so that was okay. The roasted garlic cloves were mellow and lovely to use on sandwiches.
I had a chance to try this recipe a second time, prompted by an offer of Seville oranges from a home garden, and while I couldn’t readily source another shoulder, I tried the recipe again with a boneless leg of lamb and 2-gallon heavy resealable freezer bags, which made massaging the marinade so much easier. I was a little more generous with the ancho chile, cumin, and fennel and, per a request from my spouse, more restrained with the cinnamon, using a smaller, 2 1/2-inch cinnamon stick. After coating the lamb with the pomegranate molasses, I immediately put the lamb back in the oven but began the timing of the next 20 minutes AFTER the oven temp had come back up to 375℉ (191°C). This gave it an additional 10 to 15 minutes in the oven as the temperature came up and I got a nice crust as I typically do with my normal cooking method for lamb, whether boneless or bone-in. Serving is simpler with the leg of lamb, and if you are serving people who prefer leaner meat, this might be a good alternative. The Seville oranges give up more juice and flavor (and, tasting one, it still retained its distinctive sour-bitter notes after cooking, even though they were totally soft). The pomegranate worked well without dominating in a too sweet way. This is a great treatment to add to my lamb arsenal and won a place in this Greek girl’s culinary heart.