Last Wednesday was the first day of the annual summer sales in France. Knowing exactly which shop I would like to visit I was hurried down the Champs Elysee at 9am with hardly a soul in sight. This is certainly the way I like to shop – the pick of the store with no queues at either the dressing room or checkout. Done by 10am and seemingly churlish to return home so quickly, I carried on to The Grande Magazines. I love to walk in Paris – its history, cobbled streets, the beautifully styled shops on Rue Faubourg-St Honorine, but today walking could more accurately be described as wading, as in wading through enormous puddles. Drenched and feet soaked through, the thought as to why in the world I was doing this did spring to mind…

Homeward bound and taking a shortcut through my local market I simply couldn’t pass by the display of milk fed shoulder of lamb. The special of the day and at this time of morning a depleted stock but, what did remain was irresistible. A self-basting, fatty cut, shoulder of lamb is perfect for long slow cooking, the result being mouthwateringly tender meat.

The recipe that I used and adapted was Slow-Roasted Shoulder of Lamb, Braised Summer Vegetables from Raymond Blanc’s new book to go with his TV series,Kitchen Secrets. I am a huge fan of Mr. Blanc, recipes that work and precise instructions and in Kitchen Secrets, each recipe is awarded an indicator of complexity and detailed explanation of special ingredients and techniques. My following adaptation reflects the ingredients I had at hand and balancing oven space with the cooking of other dishes.

Slow-Roasted Shoulder of Lamb

adapted from Raymond Blanc’s Kitchen Secrets

Serves 4

  • 1.5kg shoulder of lamb
  • Sea salt & black pepper
  • 2 sprigs of rosemary, leaves removed and finely chopped
  • 3 sage leaves, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic bulb, halved horizontally
  • 100ml dry white wine
  • 400 ml hot water
  • 2 or 3 fresh bay leaves (or 1 dried)
  • Pinch dried thyme

1. Place the lamb into a steel roasting pan and score its skin. Mix together the rosemary, sage and seasoning with the olive oil then smear all over the lamb. Rest the garlic halves against the meat and leave for around an hour, at room temperature, to marinade.

2. Pour the wine into a small saucepan and bring to a boil, allowing it to bubble for 30 seconds to burn off the bitter alcohol. Add the water, bay leaves and thyme.

Preheat the oven to 150C

3. Brown all sides of the lamb and the (cut side) garlic clove on the stove top then cover loosely with foil and transfer to the oven. Roast for 3 hours, basting regularly then remove the foil and roast, uncovered, for a further hour. Remove from the oven, cover with a clean tea towel, allowing the lamb to rest for a good half hour before serving.

This was delicious served with slow braised summer vegetables but would be equally at place with a salad of your own choice. Shred any leftovers and serve, wrapped in flatbread along with mayonnaise, red pepper jelly and crisp iceberg salad.