Suzi's Blog

Slow Roast Shoulder of Lamb with Aioli and Salsa Verde

wc-IMG_5030

Some things are easy. Easter dinner? Lamb. Best place to find a great lamb recipe? An outstanding Irish author and teacher: Darina Allen.

Darina’s newest book, 30 Years at Ballymaloe, is a celebration and tribute to her Irish cooking school that long ago achieved world status. This recipe comes from a long time staff member of the school, Rory O’Connell. Rory relates that lamb shoulder used to be considered an inferior meat. Now shoulder is recognized as being as “prime” as any other part of the animal. It’s just that the shoulder requires some care in preparation: long cooking until it literally falls off the bone which creates, for you, a main course of substance.

With the preparation techniques here, the dish is not “lamby” or greasy. It bears the distinctive flavor of lamb but with all the “this is great meat” attributes of, say, a marvelous steak.

The recipe calls for two accompanying sauces, an aioli that is finished with the juices of he cooked meat and a salsa verde that is oh so carefully crafted. The leaves of the green ingredients are chopped not too small and not too large. The goal is to have a sauce with no leafy parts that hang up in your mouth. But the leafy components must still be individually large enough so as you chew you pick up the singular flavors of arugula, parsley, and mint. It’s a brilliant idea and gives the sauce a pulsating spectrum of flavors that are grand with the lamb.

You can put this recipe on your calendar for next spring, next Easter. Or, you can remember that spring only arrived a few days ago. There are still 11 weeks of spring and spring lamb and many opportunities for you to enjoy this powerful recipe.

Slow Roast Shoulder of Lamb with Aioli and Salsa Verde

Yield: serves 8-10

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole shoulder of lamb on the bone, weighing about 8 pounds
  • Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the aioli:

  • 6 large tablespoons homemade mayonnaise
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed to a paste

For the salsa verde:

  • 1 bunch of arugula, about 3 ½ ounces
  • 1 bunch of flat-leaf parsley, about 3 ½ ounces
  • 6 large sprigs of mint
  • 6 sprigs of tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon capers, coarsely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and crushed to a smooth paste
  • 8 anchovies, very finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • Freshly grated zest of 1 lemon plus a little juice

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Put the lamb shoulder in a wide roasting pan, skin-side up. Score the skin several times to encourage the fat to run out during the cooking and to crisp up the skin. Season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 325°F and continue to cook for another 3 ½ hours, or until the meat is failing off the bone.

While the lamb is cooking, make the salsa verde. Remove the stems from the arugula and herbs and discard. Chop the leaves to a texture halfway between coarse and fine, so that the individual flavors of the herbs stand out in the finished sauce. Put the chopped herbs in a small bowl and stir in the remaining ingredients for the salsa.

It is unlikely that the salsa will need salt, because the anchovies are already quite salty, but very occasionally a pinch might be needed. Taste and correct correct the seasoning, if necessary, adding a little lemon juice if you want to sharpen up the salsa. Chill until ready to serve.

The crushed garlic can be mixed into the mayonnaise for the aioli; however, this sauce cannot be finished until you have the juices from cooked lamb.

To test if the lamb is cooked to a melting tenderness, pull the shank bone: if it is ready, some of the meat should come away easily from the bone. When the lamb is cooked, remove it from the oven and transfer to a serving plate, covered with foil, to keep warm in a low oven (250°F). There will be plenty of fatty cooking juices in the roasting pan. Strain these through a strainer into a glass bowl or measuring cup and set aside for a few minutes, until the fat has risen to the surface. Skim off the fat carefully and thoroughly with a large spoon.

To finish the aioli, add 4-6 tablespoons of the degreased cooking juices to the garlicky mayonnaise and stir well to achieve a consistency similar to softly whipped cream—the mayonnaise should now just lightly coat the back of a spoon. Taste and correct the seasoning if necessary.

Pour the remaining degreased cooking juices into a small pan, bring to a boil, and season to taste.

To serve the lamb, remove the meat from the bone in largish pieces using a pair of tongs or a serving fork. Divide the meat between hot serving plates, drizzle some of the hot cooking juices over the top, and accompany with the salsa verde and aioli.

 

Source: 30 Years at Ballmaloe by Darina Allen

Photo Information [top picture]: Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/4.5 for 1/10th second at ISO-3200

 

 

Easter Dinner Ideas [Or Other Spring and Summer Feasts]

wc-IMG_5027

 

Yes, I know, Easter was last Sunday. But there will be an Easter again, short of a meteor strike. And there are other times during the spring and summer that you may be celebrating. Here is the menu we had on Sunday. The next few days will see a post with each recipe. Suzen and I spent Easter morning shopping and Easter afternoon in the kitchen. It was a perfect holiday, complete with dinner guests and our table set for this feast.

Menu for a Special Sunday Meal

  • Chipotle and Cheddar Biscuits with Honey Butter
  • Red Pepper Hummus with Toasted Home Made Bread
  • Shoulder of Lamb with Salsa Verde
  • Potato Gratin with Cauliflower and Cheese of Your Choice

Oh, no dessert? Our guests bought a fruit tart and we had some chocolate gelato on hand. I did have in mind a very special chocolate cookie that will appear here soon. Truth is, after four hours in the kitchen, Suzen and I were low on gas. Planning on doing this meal or another feast? Then you want to space out the effort, ideally over 2-3 days. Biscuits and hummus the day before, for example. We all want quality for our dinner parties and that quality quite simply takes a bit of time.

To conclude, about that meteor strike. I was not joking. Today is Earth Day and this evening in Seattle at the incredible Museum of Flight three astronauts will present evidence about the possibility of a major meteor strike that could wipe out a city. Remember that meteor over Siberia last year? That explosion is now calibrated at a half a megaton. Tonight, the presentation will show that the chances of a major disaster are 3 to 10 times more likely than previously thought. New sensor information, originally developed to detect man-made nuclear weapons tests, confirms that we have far more collisions with large objects from space. There are lots and lots of uncharted meteors in the 100-meter range out there. Close encounters are common, actual collisions much more likely than previously thought. More and more of a growing planet population is in urban areas that sprawl. Target creep.

If I were you, I would order up my lamb soon.