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.–Renee Schettler Rossi
Slow Roasted Lamb Recipe
- Quick Glance
- 30 M
- 11 H
- Serves 4 to 6
- 1 heaping teaspoon (2 g) cumin seeds
- 1 heaping teaspoon (2 g) fennel seeds
- 2 small dried red chiles
- 1 teaspoon (3 g) ancho chile powder or smoked paprika
- 3 tablespoons (44 ml) olive oil
- 3 tablespoons (2 1/4 ounces/67 ml) honey
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 1/2 pounds (2.04 kg) bone-in lamb shoulder (or substitute boneless leg of lamb)
- 3 medium red onions (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into wedges
- 2 Seville or bitter oranges, scrubbed and dried, then quartered (or substitute 1 thin-skinned orange and 1 thin-skinned lime)
- 2 heads garlic, unpeeled and halved horizontally
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) pomegranate molasses
- 1. In a small, dry skillet over low to medium heat, toast the cumin seeds, fennel seeds, and dried chiles until they start to become aromatic, shaking the pan almost constantly so that they toast evenly, about 1 minute. Lightly grind the toasted spices using a mortar and pestle but be careful not to reduce them to a powder. In a small bowl, combine the ground spices and chiles with the chile powder or smoked paprika, olive oil, honey, and salt and black pepper to taste.
- 2. Using a sharp knife, cut 5 to 6 slashes into the lamb shoulder. Place the lamb in either a 2-gallon resealable plastic bag or a roasting pan and rub the spice mixture into the meat. Add the onions, oranges, garlic, and cinnamon stick. Massage everything together so that the meat is really well covered and then either seal the bag or cover the meat. Stash the lamb in the fridge for at least 8 hours or overnight. (Ideally, you’d flip the lamb occasionally to keep it evenly coated with the marinade, but this isn’t going to make or break your roast.)
- 3. The next day, bring the lamb to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 375ºF (191ºC).
- 4. If using a plastic bag, dump the lamb and the rest of the contents of the bag into the roasting pan. Make sure the lamb is skin-side up and that there is an even distribution of onions, oranges, and garlic around the meat, doing your best to keep the onions in intact wedges if possible. Roast the lamb, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Then cover the roasting pan tightly with foil, reduce the heat to 300ºF (149ºC), and cook until the lamb is tender and registers 160°F (71ºC) if you prefer medium doneness or 175°F (79°C) for fall-apart tenderness, which ought to take anywhere from 2 to 2 1/2 hours. When the lamb reaches the desired temperature, take it out of the oven and crank the oven back up to 375ºF (191ºC). Be aware that leg of lamb will take less time than lamb shoulder.
- 5. Uncover the lamb, spoon the pomegranate molasses over the top, and then spoon the pan juices over the lamb while you wait for the oven to reach 375°F (191ºC). When the oven reaches temperature, slide the lamb and roasting pan back in the oven and cook, uncovered, until it’s nicely browned and sticky, 10 to 20 minutes. Loosely cover the lamb with foil and let it rest in the pan on the counter for a good 20 minutes.
- 6. Meanwhile, using a slotted spoon or tongs, gently transfer the oranges, onions, and garlic to a plate. Strain the juices from the roasting pan into a fat separator or a bowl and set them aside until the fat rises to the surface. While the juices rest, squeeze some or all of the garlic cloves into the strained juices or reserve the roasted garlic for another use. If you used a Seville orange, you can finely chop it and scatter it atop the lamb for modest bursts of sweetly sour loveliness.
- 7. When the lamb has rested, carve it as thickly or thinly as you please or grab a couple forks and use them to pull the meat from the bone into shreds. Pile the lamb on a platter. Serve it with the pan juices poured over the lamb or passed on the side.
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