Braised Shoulder of Lamb
This is really a pot-roast by another name - pot-roasting and braising are much the same thing, ie slow cooking with flavouring vegetables and stock for a succulent, moist dish with its own built-in gravy.
It’s back in fashion, and ideal for cooking cheaper cuts of meat, which will be tender – and feed a hungry family well. In this case mature lamb (hogget) is used – the shoulder is sweetly flavoured and not strictly a budget cut, but it is good value; less expensive forequarter joints of beef (eg housekeeper’s cut) could also be used.
Some recipes discard the cooking vegetables (used only for flavouring) and replace with fresh ones, which can seem wasteful to home cooks although it would be the usual practice in restaurant kitchens; in this one the vegetables are added later, so they can be eaten.
The rules are flexible, as is the cooking temperature; this is the kind of dish you can safely leave in a very low oven or slow cooker for a whole day or overnight if you like. The temperatures given allow you to get it onto the table in about 21/2 hours, making a seriously tasty Sunday lunch for 6-8 people.
1 good shoulder of lamb (hogget), approx 1.8kg/4lb, boned & rolled
1/2 litre/generous 3/4 pint stock (lamb, beef or ‘household’)
Mixture of ‘pot herb’ vegetables, as available – eg
1 or 2 carrots and/or parsnips, 1 stick of celery, 1 onion, 1 leek
2 cloves garlic
Sprig each of thyme & rosemary
Salt & freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat a hot over, 450ºF/ 230ºC/gas mark 8. Trim excess fat from the lamb, if necessary, then season and brown on all sides in a hot pan. Place the joint in a buttered casserole and cook, uncovered, in the hot oven for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to a moderate temperature, 350’F/180ºC/gas mark 4, add half of the stock to the casserole, cover and return to the oven for 45 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, prepare all the vegetables according to type and cut roughly into chunks. (Small whole vegetables, eg carrots, baby turnips, may also be used if preferred, but are better added later or cooked separately to retain their fresh flavour .)
3. Arrange the vegetables and herbs around the joint, season and cook for another 11/4 hours.
4. When cooked, transfer the meat to a warm serving dished with the strained vegetables. Skim any fat from the remaining juices, then simmer uncovered until reduced enough to serve as a sauce (the juices may also be thickened a little with cornflour or arrowroot of you would like more gravy).
Serve with extra vegetables, eg puréed, boiled or baked potato, carrots and spring greens.