Roast Shoulder of Lamb with Garlic and Potatoes – As bucolic as it gets.

Lamb Shoulder Casserole (7 of 7)I was recently cycling through the Wicklow countryside with a couple of friends. As happens, conversations get started on the flat, dropped on the ascent, ignored in the excitement of a downhill and restarted when we all have our breath back. Often, we get strung out (not in a doping sort of way, we aren’t that type of cyclists). Conversations, started between three, can carry on for a time between two as the laggard joins up with the group. This can lead to some confusion as two will complete a conversation started by three. The third will join back up with the group and carry on from where things had been left off. 

My friend G had been struggling a bit and had fallen behind. The conversation on the theme of the beautiful landscape had been completed and R and I had moved on to discussing his recent stomach disorder (we do cover a wide range of topics). G rejoined us as we rounded a bend and came upon a particularly pastoral scene of rolling fields populated by sheep, as if posing for an oil painting. “Now that’s as bucolic as it gets.” he said as he came wheel to wheel. R replied “It must be the silage, my stomach has been fine for a week.”

I got the conversation back on track, we fell to discussing dishes that are “countrified”. This is a natural lead on from bucolic and a good diversion from R’s digestive tract. One of my favourite, simple, ‘country’ dishes is Roast Shoulder of Lamb with Garlic and Potatoes. It’s also great post-cycling fare.

A pretty rusticated looking arrangement of ingredients.

A pretty rusticated looking arrangement of ingredients.

Ingredients To will feed six to eight (or more if any are suffering from a bucolic stomach).

  • 2 lamb shoulders
  • 6 potatoes
  • 4 large onions
  • 1 or 2 bulbs of garlic (depending on how much you like garlic)
  • 500 ml (1 pint) of good chicken or vegetable stock
  • A few branches of rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper to season

Being a ‘City Slicker’, part of me views this dish as being almost too simple to detail here. However, being an Irishman and only a couple of generations away from a mud hut, the rest of me recognises the simple virtue of the dish. I hope you will too.

First, get to chopping the garlic, the onions into rings and peeling and slicing the potatoes.

Note how I put garlic, onions and potatoes in the foreground. This is to rusticate this photo too.

Note how I put garlic, onions and potatoes in the foreground. This is to rusticate this photo too.

Layer a casserole dish with garlic, onions and then potatoes. Season and repeat.

Pop in the rosemary just before the lamb. It will infuse lots of flavour.

Pop in the rosemary just before the lamb. It will infuse lots of flavour.

Keep at it until there is only room left for the two lamb shoulders.

I suppose one could call this stock photography?

I suppose one could call this stock photography?

Pour over the stock. Put the lid on the casserole and pop the lot into a 140ºC (275º F) oven for three and a half hours. Remove the casserole and increase the oven temperature to 180º C (360º F). Place the shoulders in a roasting tray and put them into the oven for 15 minutes to brown them.

Lovely lamb shoulders resting for ten minutes, like they do in the country.

Lovely lamb shoulders resting for ten minutes, like they do in the country.

Let them rest for ten minutes. Then carve, in as rustic a fashion as you can and serve with the onions, potato, garlic and some beans.

This is provincial fare. Like so much of the countryside, it's worth taking a look at it.

This is provincial fare. Like so much of the countryside, it’s worth taking a look at it.

This combines the very best of some simple ingredients, lamb, garlic, onions, rosemary and potatoes. The slow roasting produces very tender meat, infused with garlic, rosemary and onion flavours. Very tasty after a visit to the Wicklow countryside.

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  • This is my kind of dish. In look at those pictures and wish I was there, sitting at that table, glass of wine in hand and savouring that delicious looking lamb. Excellent recipe!!

    • Thanks Gamma,
      It really is very simple fare. It is easy to prepare and very hearty stuff. Ideal for a wet, Irish summer or winter for that matter. Perhaps I should say it’s an autumn dish?

  • Looks spectacular. I would guess that you are not a fan of the slow cooker. However, for we working types, the crock pot is a godsend. Do you think this recipe would work in that as well? I have a lovely one – although not as photogenic as Le Creuset…

    • Hi Deirdre,
      The slow cooker would work perfectly for this. I am a fan but not an owner. They do allow anybody who is interested in good food, prepare a meal in advance (on a budget) and dine really, really well. That’s my kind of cooking. I tend to only cook at the weekends as I too am out turning the wheels of the economy.

  • Very tasty after almost anything, I’d say… Inspired to brown the lamb shoulders separately afterwards, otherwise you’d be missing that lovely caramelised coating on the outside. I’ll bring dessert….

    • Get over here! The browning after is needed or it tends to look like a grey lump of unappetising meat. It gets a lovely crust.

      • Now, do you think sticky date cake with caramel sauce, or tart au citron? I’m favouring the latter after a big plate of juicy lamb, but the former is great after a soft Wicklow day…

  • Just a quick observation. Two weeks ago, I was in Ireland – I took a group over to tour the West. Some of my group went out to Inishbófin – as their ancestors had come from there and they wanted to visit. It is the “island of the white cow”. So, would that make you Conor of the White Cow? 😉

    • We used to believe that we were descendants of the French who arrived in Killala Bay, Co. Sligo in 1798. If that were true, the name would mean ‘beautiful ending’. However, my wife has studied genealogy and we come from mud huts in Co. Leitrim. White Cow it is!

  • very good piece of meat, shoulder…lovely dish:)

    • Thanks Roger.
      It seemed strange to me to see it posted while I was in France, in 35º heat. Now that I’m back here in 14ºs, it seems pretty appropriate to have posted it.

  • Classic combination of flavours and an update on the Irish stew – lovely stuff, my nose is quivering at the thought of that caramelised lamb with rosemary and onions.

    • Thanks Linda. Simple fare but very tasty indeed. A good stock makes or breaks the dish.

  • This may be a simple recipe but the flavor of this meal has to be outstanding.

    • Karen,
      I love getting your comments because they are always so positive. This spurs me on to do more.
      Thank you,

  • I like your idea of portions. I went to an Easter lunch, some years ago, where the host cooked a single shoulder of lamb and tried to feed the 5,000 – it doesn’t work!
    That’s lovely looking lamb – I had a fantastic rolled breast of lamb last week, where I poked as much garlic and rosemary inside as possible. It was very rewarding. Bet yours was too 😉

    • The shoulder is one of those joints. If it is cooked badly, there is plenty to go around. Do a good job and it really is only fit for three. I am just back from France and have a winter’s supply of beautiful purple garlic hanging in the kitchen. The breast of lamb sounds like the sort of thing I need to be cooking….

      • I envy you your garlic. Do cook a rolled breast of lamb and poke it full of holes and fill them with garlic and rosemary. I cooked it slowly in some stock, a little red wine vinegar and a squeeze of anchovy paste. I think it might have been better than the last leg of lamb I cooked. A lot of fat comes off it, so I used that to roast potatoes 😉

        • That sounds just perfect. The anchovies add a lot to lamb. The lamb fat roasted potatoes has me drooling and it’s only half ten!

          • I might have to go out and buy a lamb joint for Sunday 😉

  • I’ll have to try this when the weather cools. Perfect stick to your ribs food.

    • Thanks Virginia. The weather here has been up and down. I did prepare this a few months ago and dithered about posting. Being away on holidays prompted me to clear out the posting cupboard. It has been hanging around….

      • Glad you did. I have one or two kicking about myself. Just need to get on with it!

  • Reblogged this on Empires, Cannibals, and Magic Fish Bones and commented:
    While cooking this wonderful recipe, why not listen to Bach’s Orchestral Suites

    occasionally reading from Virgil’s Georgics
    “What makes the corncrops glad, under which star
    To turn the soil, Maecenas, and wed your vines
    To elms, the care of cattle, keeping of flocks,
    All the experience thrifty bees demand –
    Such are the themes of my song.”
    And, of course, drink deeply from a bottle of Rombauer Chardonnay.

    • That seems like an ideal piece of music to be cooking to. I have a decent amount of Bach in the iPod. I must dig some out.

  • I want this. Like, yesterday.
    When do you put in the garlic? Sliced with the potato and onion, or poked into the lamb/

    • Oops! I could point to where it (now) says to put it in with the onions. Thus blaming you for not seeing the obvious. Or, I could be honest and let you know that I have fixed it now. My bad!

  • Methinks this was one of the first yumptious dishes I learnt to cook when newly married: husband dear may have disappeared into the Dark Ages, my love for the dish has not! You would have better lamb! [Hmmph, what a thing for an Aussie gal to say!!] You cook it lower and slower – shall try!! At least you put it into the oven!! [sorree to someone!!!] Oh, when are you off on your long bike ride? The darned TdeF is almost ‘out-of-the-way’!!!!!! Does your itinerary take you thru’ the Massif Central/Ardeche at all?? Or are you ‘keeping left’?

    • Thanks Eha.
      The Froome controversy is ruining my enjoyment of theTour. I don’t know if he is or is not but, I suspect he is not and the media are feeding off badly managed PR by Team Sky. However, of all people who should know what is going on, Sky should be up to the job. So….

      On the cycling Front, we do get to go through some of the Massif Central. We will be taking in Mont Ventoux (I must be mad) and we will go down the middle, through Sancerre and getting over towards Aix in Provence before hitting the coast and going over to Nice. I am just back from a holiday in France (Bordeaux) and can’t wait to be back on the French roads.
      Best as ever,

      • Chris Froome is far too intelligent a guy at the beginning of his career[s] to even think of doping especially after Armstrong, Vinikourov and ?Contador. No way! Great that this wonderful sport has come to urine throwing and spitting tho’!!! Am just waiting up for the Alpe d’Huez stage . . . did not think much of Nibali’s behaviour y’day, and tho’ like Quintana hope that ‘we’ [and in this case it is you and me 🙂 ! ] win tonight !! Sorry ‘our’ Richie Porte has lost some of his touch this year. Froomey needs him in better shape.

        Bordeaux: only been thru’ en route to Spain. Would so love to ‘do’ the Garonne River cruise . . . Good luck and decent weather for your prep.

        • Watched it this afternoon. Incredible pace up that brutal climb. Froome is a worthy winner. Some (and only some) of the crowd behaviour was below contempt. Still, winning is the best way to respond of it.

  • Hi Conor, this is such a fantastic meal! I’m drooling. However, I am curious about your “large onions.” Here a large onion is at least 3.5 inches across and 3.5 inches tall. Some of our large Vidalia sweet onions are up to 4 or 5 inches. What size onion do you consider “large?” Plus a garlic bulb here would be dwarfed by the onions, in the photo, your garlic bulbs are about the same size as the onions! Only my curious mind, it doesn’t take away from the recipe. I always enjoy each and every one of them! xo

    • Ha! Typical American. Even your onions have to be larger than ours! On a serious note, the onions are on the small side of your medium and the garlic is on the big side of big, having dragged ti back from France myself. The measurement in this type of dish really doesn’t matter. Just use good stuff!
      Hope all goes well.

  • Great lamb Conor. I fully empathise with the cycle banter. Seeing as we seem to eat more junk and consume a lot more beer than normal the digestive issues are abundant to. I find it’s wise to keep out of your pal’s “dirty air” wherever possible…..

  • Oooooh I need a big log fire and wet dog beside me for that bad boy – see you in November!!

    • I prepared it months ago and was dithering about posting it. I decided that the summer was not up to scratch and you could take it now. (That and being on holidays) Still, it will be here come November.

  • Shoulder is the best! And ha ha ha on the “stock photography.”

    • Thanks Michelle,
      I couldn’t resist that one.

  • Lamb has been my protein of the summer for some reason, and this looks marvelous. 🙂

    • Thanks Amanda. It is simple stuff but very tasty.

  • Very ‘Conor’, all of this. Which is a compliment, of course. Love the stock photo. It is sharp in just the right places.

  • This dish is beautiful, I want to smell my screen:) I have to confess that when I have meat in the fridge and have no idea what to cook, I check your recipes;) Thumbs up!

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