We’re all for using the cheaper cuts of meat. But they need cooking in a different way and often require that little bit more time and attention. The dishes we cook in Everyday Gourmets are economical in terms of your pocket but not in terms of time; they’re for when you want to push the boat out. When this stuffed shoulder of lamb is rolled and trussed, it’s beautiful: a Sunday lunch centerpiece that’s superb value for money.
Roughly 2kg/4lb 8oz boned shoulder of lamb (ask your butcher for the bones) 2 tsp virgin olive oil flaked sea salt freshly ground black pepper small mint leaves, to garnish
For the lamb jus (gravy)
Roughly 500g/1lb 2oz lamb bones (see above) 1/2 medium onion, peeled and quartered 2 celery sticks, chopped into short lengths 1 medium carrot, chopped into short lengths 4 bushy sprigs fresh thyme 1 bay leaf 1 litre/13/4pt cold water 1 tsp fine sea salt 1 heaped tbsp plain flour 1 tbsp redcurrant jelly 1 mint stalk, with several sprigs
For the stuffing
100g/4oz slightly stale white bread 1 medium leek, well washed 1/2 medium onion 4 garlic cloves, peeled 3 tbsp virgin olive oil 2 tbsp baby capers, drained finely grated zest 1 small unwaxed lemon 25g/1oz bunch fresh mint, leaves finely chopped (you’ll need around 5 heaped tbsp chopped mint) 10g/1/4oz bunch fresh parsley, leaves roughly chopped (you’ll need around 3 heaped tbsp chopped parsley) 1 tsp flaked sea salt pepper
For the mint sauce
3 tbsp finely chopped mint leaves 2 tsp caster sugar 2 tbsp white wine vinegar virgin olive oil
1. To make the lamb stock, put the lamb bones in a large saucepan and cook over a medium- high heat for 8-10 minutes until lightly browned, turning every now and then. Add the onion, celery, carrot, thyme and bay leaf to the pan. Pour over the water and bring to a gentle simmer. Skim off any foam that floats to the surface. Leave to bubble gently for 45 minutes. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine sieve into a clean jug; leave to stand. Spoon off any fat that rises to the surface after the stock has cooled.
2. While the stock is simmering, make the stuffing. Cut the crusts off the bread and cut the rest into rough 1cm/1/2in cubes – you’ll need around 75g/21/2oz. Trim the leek, dropping the trimmings into the stock if you like, and finely slice. Finely chop the onion and crush the garlic.
3. Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a large non-stick frying pan and fry the bread for 3-4 minutes until golden. Tip into a large mixing bowl and return the pan to a low heat. Add the remaining oil and stir in the leek, onion and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring until softened but not coloured. Tip the sautéed vegetables into the pan with the bread and add the capers, lemon zest, mint, parsley, salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Stir well and set aside to cool.
4. Place the lamb on a chopping board, skin side down, and trim off any hard lumps of fat or sinew if your butcher hasn’t already done so. Cover with a large sheet of cling film. Take a sturdy rolling pin and bash the thickest parts of the meat to flatten them until the meat is around 3cm/11/4in thick all over. If necessary, trim off any untidy bits and use them to patch the lamb where the meat is more scarce. You want it to look like a pretty even rectangle of meat when you’ve finished, so take care to keep it neat. Season with salt and pepper.
5. Spoon the stuffing across the centre of the lamb, from one short side to the other. Lift the two long sides and wrap over the stuffing to fully enclose. Cut 7–8 lengths of kitchen string, each long enough to wrap around the lamb and place at 3cm/11/4in intervals underneath. Tie the string very tightly, starting at each end, then in the middle and finally the places in between. This should help prevent the stuffing bulging out but if it does, simply push back into the parcel. Tie another piece of string around the lamb from one end to the other to hold the whole parcel together. Trim off the excess string.
6. Weigh the lamb and place in a small roasting tin. You can chill it for several hours at this point but don’t forget to return it to room temperature for 30 minutes before cooking. Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan oven 180°C/gas mark 6. Rub the lamb all over with a little oil. Season with flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast in the centre of the oven for 20 minutes per 500g/1lb 2oz. The lamb will take about an hour and a quarter.
7. While the lamb is cooking, prepare the mint sauce. Put the chopped mint leaves and sugar in a small bowl and bruise with the back of a spoon for a minute to extract the flavour. Stir in the white wine vinegar. Add a little olive oil. The dressing should look fairly thick, but spoonable when you’ve finished. Set aside.
8. Take the lamb out of the oven and put on a board. Cover with a piece of foil and a couple of dry tea towels and leave to rest for 15 minutes while the sauce is finished. Spoon off as much fat as you can from the tin, leaving all the lovely, golden brown juices. Place on the hob. Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon and cook for a few seconds. Slowly start adding 300ml of the reserved lamb stock, stirring constantly until it is all incorporated. Stir in the redcurrant jelly and the mint sprig and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and season to taste. Stir in any juices from the resting meat. Pass through a fine sieve into a warmed jug.
9. Trim the ends off the lamb parcel (keep them for a cold lamb sandwich) and remove the string. Carve the lamb into thick slices and serve with the jus and dots of the mint sauce. Perfect with boulangère potatoes and sautéed chard or spinach.