Main Meals

Slow-roasted lamb shoulder

3 hours 30 minutes

This slow-roasted lamb shoulder is perfect for Sunday lunch or special occasions. It is served with spiced pumpkin, wine-soaked cranberries and herbed couscous.

Wine/Spirit Pairing
Boland Cellar One Formation Grenache Noir

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  • For the lamb shoulder:
  • 2-3 red/brown onions, peeled and sliced into wedges
  • 1 carrot, sliced into chunks
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, peeled & sliced into long slivers (plus extra cloves, whole)
  • a few sprigs of rosemary
  • 3-4 T olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1,5 kg lamb shoulder on the bone (scoring of fat layer on top optional)
  • 250 ml red wine
  • For the pumpkin:
  • 45-60 ml olive oil
  • 10 ml ground cumin
  • 5 ml smoked paprika
  • 5 cinnamon
  • 15 ml honey
  • salt and pepper, , to taste
  • 1 small pumpkin, sliced into wedges, seeds & pith scooped out
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • ⅓ cup almond flakes, toasted (or pine nuts)
  • For the couscous:
  • 1 cup couscous
  • about 750 ml boiling water
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • extra virgin olive oil, for serving
  • 1 medium lemon, juiced and rind grated
  • 2 rounds feta, crumbled (optional)
  • a handful mint and parsley leaves, roughly chopped

For the shoulder:

1. Preheat the oven to 230 C and arrange a rack in the centre of the oven. In a roasting tray the same size as the shoulder, arrange the onions, carrots & a few cloves of garlic evenly, top with some rosemary, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt & pepper.

2. Place the shoulder on top, fat side up. Make a few small incisions all over with a sharp paring knife, and insert a slivers of garlic into each incision. Drizzle all over with olive oil, season with salt & pepper, and scatter with some chopped rosemary.

3. Pour the wine into the bottom of the pan, then cover with foil and place in the oven. Turn down the heat immediately to 170 C, then roast for about 3,5 hours or until the meat is tender enough to pull apart with a fork. In the meantime, prepare the pumpkin and couscous.

Cook's note: While the pumpkin is roasting (see below) and meat is resting, make an optional gravy by heating the pan sauces in a small saucepan, and thickening it with a slurry of a few tablespoons water mixed with a few teaspoons of corn starch. Add mutton stock to stretch it, if needed.

For the pumpkin:

1. Line a large roasting tray with baking paper. In a large wide mixing bowl, add the olive oil, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, honey and some salt & pepper. Add the sliced pumpkin and toss to coat all over, then tip the pumpkin out on the prepared roasting tray.

2. When the meat (see above) is ready, remove it from the oven and turn the heat up to 220 C. While the meat is resting, roast the pumpkin for about 20 minutes until cooked and golden brown, then remove from the oven and scatter with toasted almonds & cranberries. Serve alongside the couscous & shoulder roast.

3. Dried cranberries work beautifully, but if you want to go the extra mile, simmer the cranberries in 1/2 cup of red wine, with a cinnamon stick and a whole star anise until they are plumped up. Cool and store in the fridge until ready to use.

For the couscous:

1. Place the couscous and a pinch of salt in a large bowl, then cover with boiling water (it should just cover the couscous). Cover with a lid or a plate, then leave to stand and swell for about 5-10 minutes.

2. Fluff up the couscous with a fork, then add the olive oil, lemon rind & juice, crumbled feta (optional) and chopped herbs. Stir well, then serve warm.

Find more lamb recipes here. 

Learn more about cooking with lamb on the Lamb and Mutton SA website:

Photograph: Tasha Seccombe

Ilse van der Merwe

Recipe by: Ilse van der Merwe

Ilse van der Merwe, a.k.a. The Food Fox, is a food writer, stylist, television host and blogger. She is the author of two books: Cape Mediterranean: The way we love to eat and Simply Seasonal: Recipes inspired by nature. Follow her on Instagram @the_foodfox.

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