I often think that I’m very lucky to have grown up on a sheep farm, as I have a reliable supply of delicious organic lamb to create tasty delights with on a regular basis. I received a delivery of half a lamb a few weeks ago to replenish my supply. All of a sudden the drawers of the freezer were happily jammed and stuffed with shoulder, leg, neck and countless chops. If I was forced to choose I would probably have to pick lamb as my favourite meat, which may seem surprising given that throughout my childhood I was nurtured and brought up on it; far from being sick of it though, I think I have a greater appreciation of good quality meat from well raised animals.
My home county, Northumberland, produces more lamb than any in the country, and some of the most delicious lamb and mutton in the world is from there. I hate to see lamb from New Zealand on the supermarket shelves when we have much better tasting stuff right here on our doorstep. The tastiest I’ve ever had was from the farm back home, and I reckon this meat is the best to be found anywhere.This is from Raymond Blanc’s Kitchen Secrets, another reliable recipe which his mother, the legendary “Maman Blanc” would have made. Rustic home cooking. It’s lamb shoulder, slow-roasted to achieve a gorgeous melting texture, and with some bones and neck chops in the bottom of the pan along with wine and herbs creating an extremely flavoursome liquid to make the sauce with. For this I reduced the liquid slightly, thickened with some beurre manié and stirred in some finely chopped mint and a splash of white wine vinegar. I served the lamb with some leek and carrot, finely sliced to mirror the flakiness of the meat, and some roasted new potatoes.
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 lamb neck chops, or 700g lamb trimmings
- 1 sprig thyme
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 1 bulb garlic
- some beurre manie
- 1.5 kg lamb shoulder
- olive oil
- 100 ml dry white wine
- sea salt and cracked black pepper
Heat the oven to 230C. Take the lamb shoulder out of the fridge at least 1 hour before cooking to bring it up to room temperature. Score the lamb shoulder and rub some sea salt, black pepper and finely chopped herbs (thyme and rosemary) mixed with some olive oil into the flesh. Leave to marinate.
Heat 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a roasting tray and fry lamb neck chops (or bones and trimmings) until light golden on each side, add bulb of garlic cut in half, brown for a few minutes then remove from heat. Place the shoulder on top of the bones and roast in the oven for 20mins. Meanwhile bring white wine to the boil in a small pan along with bay leaf. Add 400ml of water. Take the lamb out of the oven and add the wine mixture, scraping off any tasty sediment from the bottom of the tray. Baste the meat for a minute. Now turn the oven down to 150C, cover the meat loosely with foil and return to the oven. Roast for about 4 hours, basting every 30 minutes. The meat should be extremely tender and falling off the bone.
Use the cooking liquid to make the sauce; reduce by one third, thicken slightly with beurre manié, add a splash of white wine vinegar and some finely chopped mint. Season to taste with salt and pepper.