Everybody is familiar with lamb chops and leg of lamb – but how about the shoulder? When is that used? Well, here I give you the recipe for a roasted lamb shoulder – and you will see why it is my favorite cut for roasting. The meat is sweeter on the blade bone, and, with lots of cartilage to melt during roasting, the meat is finger-sticking good. You might not get a clean, precise cut of meat from the shoulder, but it will be delicious.
- 6-pound lamb shoulder, cut by butcher into 4 very thick chops, about 1 ½ pounds each
- 2 celery ribs, cut in 1-inch chunks (about 2 cups)
- 2 medium onions, cut in large chunks (about 3 cups)
- 3-inch piece cinnamon stick
- 6 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
- 4 small branches fresh rosemary
- 8 fresh sage leaves
- ½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt, or more to taste
- 2 cups dry white wine
- ½ cup red wine vinegar
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 cups light stock (chicken, turkey, or vegetable broth), or more if needed
Trim most of the fat from the chops, leaving only a very thin layer on the outside surfaces. With your fingers, pull apart each chop, roughly in half, along the natural break lines between the muscles.
Put the meat in a large bowl with all of the remaining ingredients except the stock. Toss well to distribute all the seasonings, and submerge the meat in the marinade. Seal the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 24 hours. Turn the meat occasionally.
Heat the oven to 425°. Arrange the meat chunks in the roasting pan, spread the marinade all around them, and pour in the stock. Cover the pan with a tent of aluminum foil, and press it firmly against the sides. Pierce a few slits in the foil as steam vents.
Roast for 2 to 2 ½ hours, basting and turning the meat every 30 minutes or so. After the first hour, remove the foil, and continue roasting uncovered. As the pan liquid evaporates and the meat starts to caramelize, baste and turn more frequently. If the meat seems to be drying quickly, reduce the oven temperature. When the meat is very tender and nicely browned all over, and the pan juices have reduced by half, remove the pan from the oven and transfer the meat chunks to a warm platter.
To make the sauce, mash all the vegetables in the roasting pan, using a potato masher or a big spoon. Stir the pan juices around the sides and bottom of the pan to deglaze all the tasty caramelized bits. Pour everything into a sturdy wire-mesh sieve set over a bowl or large measuring cup. Press on the vegetables, releasing their juices, and force them through the sieve, scraping the puree into the bowl to thicken and flavor the sauce. Skim the fat from the surface, and adjust the seasoning to taste.
When you are ready to serve, pour about half the sauce into a large skillet, along with the lamb pieces and any meat juices in the platter. Heat slowly to a simmer, turning the meat over and over until it is heated through. Return the meat to the platter, and drizzle over it the thickened sauce from the skillet. Serve right away, passing the remaining sauce at the table.