Raymond Blanc's Slow Roasted Lamb
Create the ultimate Easter Feast with a traditional recipe from Michelin Star-master, Raymond Blanc. This juicy lamb shoulder will get the taste buds tingling for all the family this tasty weekend - happy cooking!
SLOW ROASTED SHOULDER OF LAMB WITH BRAISED VEGETABLES
PREPARATION 30 mins, plus 1 hour marinating
COOKING TIME: 4½ hours
This dish epitomises good home cooking. Shoulder is one of the cheaper cuts of lamb, yet here it is transformed into a wholesome meal – the long, slow cooking rendering the meat tender, juicy and incredibly tasty. Maman Blanc never used stock – just water, herbs and the occasional splash of wine to create delectable cooking juices.
A shoulder of lamb will vary in weight according to the time of year. In May and June, it will be about 1.5kg, while in August it could be 2kg, and in November around 3kg, so you’ll need to adjust the cooking time accordingly; a 2kg shoulder will take 4½ hours; one weighing 3kg will need 5½ hours.
1.5kg Shoulder of lamb
4 Pinches Maldon sea salt
4 Pinches Freshly ground, black pepper
2 Sprigs Rosemary sprigs, leaves picked, finely chopped
3 Leaves sage, finely chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
700g Lamb bones and trimmings
2 Tbsp rapeseed/ grapeseed oil
1 Bulb garlic, halved horizontally
100ml White wine, such as dry chardonnay
500ml Hot water
1 Bay leaf
3 Sprigs thyme
For the braised summer vegetables
30g Unsalted butter
2 Medium onions (250g)
250g Carrots, peeled
3 Swiss chard stalks (250g)
2 Gem lettuces
250g Yellow beetroot, peeled
10g Flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 Pinch sea salt and black pepper
The lamb can be scored and marinated several hours ahead.
To prepare the lamb
Lightly score the skin of the lamb. Rub all over with the salt, pepper, chopped herbs and olive oil. Set aside to marinate at room temperature for 1 hour (*1). Preheat the oven to 230°C/Gas 8. Heat the rapeseed oil in a large heavy-duty roasting pan over a medium heat. Add the lamb bones and meat trimmings and colour, turning from time to time, for 7–10 minutes until lightly golden (*2). Add the garlic and brown for 3 minutes, then take the roasting pan off the heat.
To roast the lamb
Sit the seasoned lamb shoulder on top of the bones (*3) and roast in the oven for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small pan, bring the wine to the boil and let bubble for 30 seconds, then add 400ml water, the bay leaf and thyme. Take the lamb out of the oven and baste the joint with the pan juices, removing any excess fat. Add the wine mixture to the roasting pan, stirring to scrape up the sediment on the base of the pan (*4). Turn the oven to 150ºC/Gas 2. Cover the meat loosely with a piece of foil and return to the oven. Roast for a further 4 hours, basting every 30 minutes with the pan juices. If, at the end of cooking, the pan juices are reduced right down, stir in about 100ml water to extend the jus.
To braise the vegetables
Start to prepare the vegetables about half an hour before the lamb will be cooked. Slice down either side of the Swiss chard stalks to separate them from the leaves. Halve the stalks lengthways and cut across into 3cm lengths; set the leaves aside for later. Cut each onion into 6 wedges, keeping the base intact. Halve the carrots lengthways and cut into 3cm pieces. Cut the beetroot into similar sized pieces. Cut each lettuce into 6 wedges, keeping the stalk intact. In a large saucepan over a medium heat, sweat the onions, chard stalks, carrots, beetroot and lettuces in the olive oil with a little seasoning for 5 minutes. Add the water, cover and cook over the lowest possible heat for 35 minutes (*5). Finally add the Swiss chard leaves, replace the lid and cook over a high heat for a further 3 minutes. Transfer to a warmed serving dish.
Remove the lamb from the oven. Strain the juices into a small saucepan and remove the excess fat from the surface. Set the lamb aside to rest. Reheat the juices until bubbling, then taste and adjust the seasoning. Pour into a warmed sauceboat. Place the lamb and braised vegetables on the table so your guests can help themselves. The lamb will be tender enough to be portioned with a spoon, though you can carve it with a knife if you prefer. A turnip and potato gratin (this recipe can be found in the vegetarian section of the recipe section) would be an excellent accompaniment here.
*1 The salt and herb rub will permeate the lamb with a subtle flavour. The meat needs to be out of the fridge for at least a couple of hours before cooking to ensure it reaches room temperature before going into the oven.
*2 Do not colour the bones too much, or the resulting jus will taste bitter and astringent. And remember there is 4 hours of slow cooking ahead.
*3 The bones serve two purposes. Firstly, they provide a platform for the lamb joint, allowing the heat to circulate all around it, facilitating even cooking. If the joint sits directly on the base of the pan, the meat in direct contact is liable to dry out. Secondly, the caramelised bones provide the basis for a wonderful pan jus.
*4 Adding water to the pan will lift the caramelised meat juices from the bottom of the pan and the bones, creating a flavourful jus at the end. It will also keep the shoulder of lamb moist during cooking.
*5 By slow-cooking the vegetables you allow the sugars to develop slowly, ensuring a wonderful depth of flavour and a soft melting texture.
Flavour the seasoning rub for the lamb with spices rather than herbs – cumin and coriander seeds will give it an Indian flavour. Vary the root vegetables – turnip, parsnip, butternut squash and celeriac would all be suitable.
Recipe from Kitchen Secrets by Raymond Blanc, published by Bloomsbury
Recipe © Raymond Blanc 2011
Photograph © Jean Cazals 2015
For more recipes by Raymond Blanc visit www.raymondblanc.com