Lamb shoulder, quite possibly one of the most underrated cuts of lamb falling behind leg and chops – at least on most menus. For us though, this is the best. When cooked low and slow the fat really breaks down and produces really tender and flakey meat – it literally falls off the bone.
For a quick meal however, this is not the cut for you. Because the shoulder is a heavily used part of the animal, it can be tough. This means for it to become tender and melt in your mouth, it needs time for the meat to release the tension and for the fat to completely render down. Give yourself around 8 hours to get this one done, plus a little extra for prep.
Don’t be put off by that time though. It’s a really simple thing to make, which we will show you how below.
How to Make Melt in Your mouth Lamb
First of all buy Welsh Lamb if you can (in the UK). It is just the best. Second of all by the best quality, free range etc.. It would have enjoyed a better life with less stress and will therefore taste far superior. There is science behind lower stress levels and better tasting meat – I will write a post one day.
Second of all, use a two stage cooking process. First cook uncovered on high for about half an hour. This will cause a kick start of the Maillard reaction and generate all those brown crispy bits with all that incredible flavour – this will make for incredible pan juices. The second cook is covered over with a drop of water in the pan on a very low heat (about 120C). This cooks for 7 or so hours until the inside temperature reaches between 92-95C, and we will top up the water half way through.
Lastly, a spice rub makes this lamb sing. Our rub (and recipe) was inspired by Hugh from The River Cottage which is a marriage made in heaven. Toasting the spices first and then grinding them (fennel seeds, cumin seeds, peppercorns etc..) by hand in a pestle and motar unlocks another level of flavour. The addition of fresh zingy garlic and aromatic herbs lifts this even further, and again, grinding in the pestle and mortar unlocks their potential. Combine the ground herbs and spices with some good quality olive oil and smear it all over the meat. It’s just the cherry on top of a lovely cut of meat.
Use the recipe card and video tutorial below to help you through the stages of making this and we guarantee you’ll be cooking exceptional lamb for the whole family to enjoy (plus leftovers).
p.s. use the leftovers to make our Lamb Ragu.
p.p.s serve this up with our incredible Minted Chimichurri.
Fall off the Bone Spiced Lamb Shoulder
- Roasting Tin
- Pestle and Mortar
- Meat probe (optional)
- Frying Pan
- 1 large Shoulder of Lamb on the bone roughly 1-1.5kg
- 4-5 tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 tsp Cumin Seeds
- 1 tsp Fennel Seeds
- 1 tsp Corriander Seeds
- 2 tsp Smoked Paprika
- 2 tsp Flakey Sea Salt
- 1 tsp Green Peppercorns use black if cannot source green
- 1/2 Stick Cinnamon, broken into pieces better than powder
- 1 tbsp Fresh Rosemary Leaves, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp Fresh Thyme Leaves, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp Fresh Mint Leaves, finely chopped
- 1 Clove Garlic, roughly chopped avoid powdered garlic
The Spice Rub
- Add the cumin, fennel, corriander, cinnamon and peppercorns to the frying pan and put on a medium heat. Heat for a minute or so until very fragrant.Top Tip - This is a chefs technique called "Toasting" and it is used to unlock another level of flavour in spices - especially seeds.
- Add the toasted spices to a pestle and mortar and grind to a powder.
- Add the paprika, garlic, herbs and oil and grind further making sure it's a smooth as possible.Top Tip - the smaller you chop your herbs and garlic, the quicker and easier it is to grind.
- This is now done - set aside ready for the lamb.
Preparing the Lamb
- Pre heat the oven to 220C (fan assisted).
- Pat the lamb dry of any excess liquid or moisture using some kitchen paper.
- Put the lamb in a baking tray and score going with the grain of the meat.Top Tip -scoring (aka - slicing into rthe meat roughly 2mm) aids penetration of the spice mix into the meat a little.
- Rub half the spice mix on top of the meat and half on the bottom
- Salt generously on both sides.
Cooking the Lamb
- Place the lamb convered, in the baking tray in the oven at 220C for about 25-30 minutes until the spices have darkened slightly and crisped up a little.Top Tip - if using a probe that is oven proof, stick this in the thickest part of the meat before going into the oven.
- Add some water (about 200ml) to the bottom of the baking tray (not over or on top of the lamb). Cover the baking tray with foil and reduce the heat to 120C. Cook for about 7.5 hours now.
- Half way thorugh roasting, check the water level. Top up with another 200ml of water if the bottom of the tray is looking dry.
- Remove the lamb once it reaches between 92-95C (but anything over 7 hrs cooking should be fine if you don't have a probe).
- Let the lamb rest for at least 30 minutes before pulling apart.
- Reserve the cooking juices in a jug - this is great for making a fgravy to go with the lamb, or better yet making a leftover lamb ragu with.
- Serve however you like!We love serving it with buttered and minted new potatoes and fresh steamed green beans. We also love serving it with some flatbreads, pickled red cabbage, minted chimichurri and lemony red onion. Go wild, use your imagination!
- Toasting the spices is used to unlock another level of flavour especially in seeds. Don't overlook it.
- The pestle and mortar can unlock so much flavour, but it can be time consuming. The smaller you chop your herbs and garlic the quicker and easier it is to grind. It's worth the time anyway.
- Scoring the meat aids penetration of the spice rub into the meat somewhat, and is better to go with the grain.
- Cooking the meat high to begin with kick starts the Maillard reaction, and makes for more flavour.
- Reducing the heat, covering and adding water to the tray keeps it moist. It means the spice rub doesn't burn, and adds to the pan juices for sauce making.
- Cooking slow for over 7 hours allows the fat to render over time yielding a seriously tender and fall apart roast.