Mother’s Day Recipe: The Perfect Lamb Shoulder Recipe by Vintaged Bar + Grill’s Head Chef, Matthew Wood

Roast lamb is a staple Sunday meal that many people would be familiar with. This version is a tender and fragrant preparation that is best accompanied by something fresh, acidic, and vibrant. 

A classic Greek salad would be ideal, but so would some steamed green beans and baby chat potatoes with lemon and olive oil, so it really is up to you. 

Whole spices are the preference here and everywhere. They keep much longer, so they are less likely to have gone completely stale since the last time you used them. Plus cracked whole spices work particularly well on roast meats, think of the crust on a good pastrami. No need to pre-toast them though, the oven will do that work. 

Cooking time including preparation is roughly seven hours so get started before lunch. 

Roast Lamb Shoulder Serves 4 – 5 

• 1 ½ tablespoons whole coriander seeds 
• 1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds 
• 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns 
• 1 tablespoon fine sea salt 
• ½ teaspoon paprika 
• 1 teaspoon dried oregano 
• ½ teaspoon dried thyme 
• 2 tablespoons olive oil 
• 1 whole bone in lamb shoulder 
• 1 whole head of garlic 
• 2 whole onions 
• 2 bay leaves 
• 3 tablespoon olive oil
• 750ml chicken stock 
• ¼ lemon 

1. Take the lamb out of the fridge at least an hour before you’re going to cook it and score the flesh lightly with a knife by making shallow cuts across the top of the meat, two or three millimetres deep. 

2. To make the spice rub, we need to first crack the whole spices. A mortar and pestle is perfect for this but failing that you can use a high speed blender. Just be sure not to leave it running, instead pulse it on and off until the coriander seeds, cumin seeds, and peppercorns are roughly crushed in three quarter sized pieces. 

3. Once you have cracked the whole spices, put them into a small bowl and mix in the salt, paprika, oregano, thyme, and olive oil. Rub this mixture all over the lamb shoulder and set aside at room temperature for one hour to marinate. While you’re waiting, preheat the oven to 220°C. 

4. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil to a deep heavy roasting pan. Cut the two onions in half through the root so that they stay together, remove the skins, and place the four halves cut side down in the roasting pan. Cut the garlic head in half through the middle to expose the cloves and place it cut side down in the pan and group the onions and garlic together to form a platform in the middle of the pan. 

5. Sit the seasoned lamb shoulder on top of the onion-garlic plinth and roast in the oven for thirty minutes. 

6. Take the lamb out of the oven and turn the temperature down to 150°C. 

7. Add the bay leaves and chicken stock to the roasting pan, and then cover the whole thing with a lid of aluminium foil pinched down at the edges to stay attached to the pan. This will keep the shoulder of lamb moist but allow some of the steam to escape so it doesn’t sweat too much. 

8. Place the pan back in the oven for five hours, checking halfway through and toping up with a bit more stock or water if the pan appears dry. 

9. When the time is up, remove the pan from the oven and transfer the lamb to a serving platter. Remove the onions and garlic from the pan and strain the remaining liquid through a sieve into a bowl. 

10. Squeeze the head of garlic gently to remove a few cloves and discard the skin. Place these cloves on a chopping board with the onion halves and roughly chop into a coarse paste. Stir the onion mix through the strained pan juices with a small squeeze of lemon juice to make your sauce. 

11. Serve the lamb in the middle of the table with a small bowl of the onion gravy and the salad or vegetables on the side.

Since becoming a chef, Matt has worked in some top-flight kitchens including stints at ARIA and Stokehouse Q. Now Matt has taken on the role of executive chef at Hilton Brisbane, which includes overseeing the menu at Vintaged Bar + Grill

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