How to roast lamb shoulder

What is lamb shoulder?

Choosing a lamb joint as the centrepiece for a meal is a great way to please everyone. Lamb has a signature flavour that simply can’t be replicated by poultry or a more traditional beef roasting joint. Of the options for a large lamb joint, lamb shoulder has a lot going for it. In this post we’ll be breaking down how to roast this cut, which is possibly the best cooking method for lamb shoulder.

Lamb shoulder is a cut that comes from the lower section of the animal’s neck before the front legs (forequarter). The shoulder is itself a very large cut that can be divided into a variety of smaller cuts, including shoulder shanks and chops. However, when the shoulder of lamb is served whole it is a lamb joint that’s ideal for large events and special occasions. The meat contains a thin layer of fat which, coupled with the bone, gives lamb shoulder a deep flavour and tender texture.

Cooking method for roasting lamb shoulder

Slow roasting lamb shoulder is widely considered the best method for cooking this cut, as it allows the meat to cook slowly and break down any connective tissue. As a bonus, your entire home is perfumed with the sweet smell of the lamb as it cooks too. Below you can find our recommendations for properly roasting shoulder of lamb.

Prepare the shoulder

Arguably the most important step in roasting lamb shoulder to perfection is how you prepare the meat to go in the oven. The first thing to do is bring the shoulder to room temperature. Whether it has been kept in the fridge or freezer, this should be done gradually. It can then be coated in oil and any herbs and spices you desire. Garlic and rosemary are classic choices.

One option is to marinade the lamb and then put it back in the fridge for at least four hours, or ideally overnight. This can be made in a food processor by combining garlic, tomatoes, anchovies, shallot, thyme, rosemary, cumin, coriander, and peppercorns.

Preheat the oven

For roasting lamb shoulder with this recipe, the oven should be set to 160°C. The ideal shoulder of lamb cooking time will vary slightly depending on its size. However, we recommend roasting covered in tinfoil for around 5 hours at this temperature while basting occasionally during this time. The general rule of thumb with large lamb joints is to add an additional 30-40 minutes of cook time per 0.5kg. You can also remove the foil and increase the heat for the last 10-15 minutes of cooking to achieve a deeper colour, just be careful not to dry the meat out.

Make a gravy

Roasting any large joint like a whole chicken, beef roasting joint, or lamb shoulder is a great opportunity to create a knock-out gravy from the pan juices. Add some onions, carrots, and celery underneath the lamb as it cooks, along with whole herbs, wine, and stock. Then, when the shoulder has finished cooking, put the pan on the hob and cook down the liquid, adding some flour if necessary to thicken. Strain the delicious gravy and transfer to a jug for serving.

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Rest and serve

After roasting, shoulder of lamb should be rested for at least 30 minutes before serving. Once ready, the meat can simply be shredded at the table with a pair of forks. This adds flair to the meal while also allowing the meat to stay as juicy as possible.

At The Village Butchers, we place an emphasis on quality, especially when it comes delicate meats like lamb. With proper cookery and a quality guarantee from our UK suppliers, you’ll be able to give your dinner guests a food experience they won’t soon forget. Our lamb shoulder joints come packaged and ready for freezing, so all you have to do is take it out when it’s needed. Get in touch if you have any questions.

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