Lamb is always such a treat and although I love lamb chops or a leg still pink and juicy in the middle, there is something irresistible about a shoulder cooked long and slow until it is falling apart and melting in its own juices. This voluptuous dish is made for the weekend, when all you want to do is throw a joint in the oven and not worry too much about the timings. The rich flavour of lamb lends itself perfectly to exotic, warm Middle Eastern spices.
1 shoulder of lamb (about 2kg)
2 heads of garlic
2 teaspoon cumin seeds
2.5cm cinnamon stick
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon sea salt
3 tablespoon Harissa
1 lemon, zested and quartered
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon rose syrup (optional)
1 kg acorn squash, peeled and cut into (roughly) 2cm chunks
500ml dry white wine
Trim the shoulder of lamb of its outside layer of fat and make incisions all over the flesh. The fat is normally dry and comes away easily with a knife. Cut the heads of garlic in half and slip the cloves from one of the halves out of their skins into a pestle and mortar, leaving the remaining 3 halves for later. Heat the spices in a dry frying pan for a minute or two to bring out their flavour and then add to the pestle and mortar with the salt. Grind to a rough paste before adding the harissa, lemon zest, olive oil and rose syrup, if using.
Rub the lamb shoulder with the spice paste and leave to marinate for at least a few hours, preferably overnight.
Four hours before you are ready to eat, preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas 5. Lay the squash out on a deep baking tray with the lemon quarters and the rest of the garlic and place the lamb on top. Roast for half an hour, then turn the heat down to 130°C/250°F/gas , add the wine and continue to cook the lamb for another 3 hours or until the meat is falling away from the bone and smells enticing.
Serve with pilau rice and coriander raita.
© Thomasina Miers. Recipe taken from Chilli Notes by Thomasina Miers (Hodder & Stoughton) (Photography: © Tara Fisher)