Although this dish works well with any well sourced lamb, salt marsh lamb is without a doubt the best. The seawater-washed pasture doesn’t make the meat saltier but sweeter, and the salt tolerant plants that they graze on, such as samphire and sea purslane, give the meat a unique taste. Because they roam and use their muscles the meat is lean and dark with bags of flavour.
The first step is to marinate the lamb with rosemary, garlic and anchovy; this will give the meat an added boost of umami, making it mouth wateringly delicious. The next day, roast it in low oven, on a bed of roughly cut vegetables; this stops the bottom of the joint from searing on the roasting tray, keeping it soft and tender. A large cup of water in the tray keeps the oven moist and will later become the sauce.
When it comes to mint sauce fresh is definitely best. Pre-made mint sauce may have the sharpness to cut through rich lamb but it lacks the pungent aromatic flavour of freshly cut mint. I make my mint sauce with balsamic vinegar, as it gives a more rounded, earthy flavour.
Slow Roast Shoulder of Lamb with Fresh Mint Sauce & Roasting Juices
Preparation time 40 minutes
Cooking time 3 hours + 20 minutes resting
1 shoulder of lamb on the bone
3 cloves of garlic
1 small bunch rosemary
2 anchovy fillets
Glug olive oil
1 star anise
1 large carrot – peeled& roughly chopped
2 shallots – peeled & cut in half
1 whole garlic – cut in half
- Process the garlic cloves, rosemary & anchovy with the oil & rub into the lamb. Marinate overnight.
- Pre-heat the oven to 160C.
- Put the carrots, shallots, cut garlic & star anise in a roasting tray with the lamb on top. Season with salt. Pour in 300ml of cold water and cook for 3 hours, basting every 30 minutes, topping up the water each time you baste.
- Once the meat is cooked, cover with foil and rest for 20 minutes.
- Remove the vegetables, skim the fat of the roasting juices, then boil until reduced by half to concentrate the flavour.
- Serve with the fresh mint jelly, spring greens & roasted root vegetables.
Balsamic & fresh mint jelly
½ cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup caster sugar
1 shallot – finely diced
½ gelatine leaf – softened in cold water
Bunch mint – leaves finely chopped
- Bring the balsamic vinegar, caster sugar and shallot to the boil.
- Remove from the heat & stir in the gelatine.
- Allow to cool a little before stirring in the freshly chopped mint leaves.
- Refrigerate until it thickens.