This slow roasted lamb recipe is exactly the kind of cooking that that got me hooked in the kitchen and where Slow The Cook Down was born. A few simple and fresh ingredients cooked slowly with love and consumed with wine. Slow roasting lamb keeps the meat succulent and allows the strong flavours to develop.
Lamb is a strong and heavy flavoured meat and the shoulder is probably my favourite cut and is perfect for slow roasting. The sweetness of the apricots cut through the lamb beautifully and by turning up the heat towards the end of cooking gives you a super crunchy crust. The best bit about slow roasted lamb, is that it's zero effort for maximum flavour.
Give this roasted lamb a go for some stress free Sunday cooking and serve with your favourite sides, or if you are after more roasting inspiration, check out my Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Herbs
Be sure to check out these other lamb recipes
Lamb Meatballs with Harissa and Feta
Giant Couscous Salad with Feta, Squash & Lamb
Stuffed Aubergine with Lamb & Pomegranate
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Moroccan Style Slow Roasted Lamb Served With Apricot Puree
- Take 6 cloves of garlic and chop in half, do the same with 50g of the apricots. Make small, but fairly deep incisions all over the lamb and pop the apricots and garlic cloves in. You want to get them right into the meat.
- Mix together the oil, cumin seeds, salt, sage and a good pinch of cracked black pepper.
- Lay the lamb on a large piece of cling film and pour the oil mixture of the meat. Get your hands dirty and massage the mixture all over the lamb. Wrap securely in cling film and pop in the fridge for 2 hours to let the flavours develop.
- Get a glass of wine as a reward.
- Pre-heat the oven to 160º.
- Line a baking tray with tin foil and put in the remaining apricots, garlic cloves and the raisins. Put as many in the middle of the tray as you can, as those on the outside will burn. Lay the lamb on top of the apricots and raisins and put in the oven for 2 ½ hours.
- Get some more wine - the hard work is done!
- After 2 ½ hours turn the oven up to 220º. After 1 hour take the lamb out. Transfer the lamb to a plate, cover and leave to rest.
- Spoon the apricots (not the burnt ones!) and raisins that the lamb was roasting on into a blender, along with the meat juices. Blitz until smooth then slowly reheat in a pan on a low heat.
- Carve the meat and serve with a spoonful of the apricot puree and your other favourite sides.
Rob Obertelli says
Very poor; if followed as directed the dish will be utterly ruined!
The smallest lamb shoulder I could find was 1.9kg: the size given in this recipe will only ever be a half-shoulder or a kid-lamb shoulder, and kid-lamb is totally unsuited to slow roasting as it lack the necessary fat. Half-shoulder is a gamble: get the wrong end and it's mostly bone. If you do use a half-shoulder make sure it's the blade-end of the joint and not the end with the joint in it.
I used about 50% more apricots and raisins for the larger joint I used, plus a few extra cloves of garlic. The marinade also requires too much salt: I used about half as much for a piece of lamb which was nearly twice as large and it was plenty.
There is also no real hint of Moroccan flavouring if this recipe is followed; a bit of garlic and a few cumin seeds as stated really don't even provide a hint. Although it seems like a lot of garlic you can safely double up as I did: even then the finished dish didn't really taste or smell of garlic. I also rubbed the outside of the lamb with a good quantity of sumac: if you can't find that locally then add concentrated lemon juice to the marinade, say an eggcup full, and place lemon slices all over the lamb before wapping it in the clingfilm. I also added a common Moroccan seasoning blend called Zaatar; if you cannot get that locally then add a bit more lemon and lemon juice, a tablespoon (or more) or sesame seeds, plus a tablespoon each of dried oregano and marjoram.
Marinading for just 2 hours is almost a waste of time. Prepare this the day before and marinade for 24 hours.
Wrapping a whole lamb shoulder takes a fair bit of cling film as standard rolls aren't quite wide enough, I gave mine three wraps in different directions, and after that it was clearly going to leak a little so I place it onto a plate in the fridge. As it happened, mine didn't leak at all, but the cling-film was very weakened by the long contact with the olive oil, so I'm still pleased I was cautious by using a plate.
The cooking instructions are seriously off. Not merely because I used a much larger piece of lamb. If followed as directed everything will end up dried-out and burnt; you need to bear in mind that in Morocco this would be cooked in a tagine, which is a cooking pot with a lid. The method given here makes no attempt to replicate that at all; I wrapped my rotting tin in more foil, but if I did this again I'd cook the whole thing in my large cast-iron cooking pot.
Slow-roasting allows a fair bit of room for error if done correctly (i.e. with a cover or a lid!). I gave my 1.9kg lamb shoulder 4h 30m, but took it out to check progress at 4h and judged it sufficiently done. The final roasting uncovered at gas mark 7 (220ºC) was just idiotic! I did mine for 45m but it was still too much; I'd knock that back to 30m next time.
I also did the final hot roasting with the lamb alone: if you leave the raisins and apricots with the meat then they WILL burn.
I also found that I needed to add at least a cup of freshly-boiled water to the apricots and raisins whilst blending them just to allow the blender to work. The resulting sauce was still a bit thick after that so I added some more. There were no left over garlic cloves; if I did this again I'd add a few garlic cloves to the blender (cooked or raw depending upon your own preference) as the sauce needed them.
After doing it my way the lamb almost fell off the bone; hey pulled out very easily but not quite as easily as they should; with a properly lidded heavy cooking pot I could have easily allowed an extra hour of slow cooking to fix that. With foil-covering alone it wasn't sealed enough and would have dried-out.
In short this recipe and method seem to be totally untested by the author, and quickly knocked up on a keyboard based solely upon half-remembered ideas.
For the wine to accompany this dish I strongly recommend a good Carmenere.
As a side dishes I'd recommend one of those simple ready to make lemon and herb couscous sachets at supermarkets which only take 5 minutes to make, and also a carrot, chickpea and green bean dish (just search "Moroccan chickpea carrot green bean recipe") and you'll find quite a few variants; they're all simple and very tasty and take about 30 minutes to make and about 10-15 minutes ingredient preparation.
Rob Obertelli says
Typo correction to the above: "a bit of garlic and a few cumin seeds" should read as "a bit of fresh sage, garlic and a few cumin seeds"
Slow The Cook Down says
Hey Robert, thank you so much for the detailed response. This is a really old recipe on my blog (in fact, I’d almost forgotten it was here!! It was when I had just started publishing recipes online and recipe testing was indeed lacking at that point!! I’m so glad you managed to still make this dish well. I’m in the process of going back and remaking and retesting old posts, so I’m going to put this one on the list for sure!! And will be sure to refer to your notes to refine it. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. Betty