I do love a bit of slow cooking now and then. There is something so satisfying about leaving something to cook slowly in the oven for hours on end while you go off and do your own thing. Good things do indeed come to those who wait. I love Skye Gyngell’s recipes. They always surprise and delight—there isn’t a recipe that I’ve tried yet that has underwhelmed me. In this recipe, a shoulder of lamb (a much neglected cut of meat) is cooked for hours amongst a mixture of fennel seeds, chilli, garlic, anchovy, sage and red wine vinegar. Everything comes together harmoniously and the end result is lamb so meltingly tender, with the vinegar acting to cut the richness. I am a sucker for any recipe that uses anchovies to add saltiness, and this recipe is the perfect example of how well it can work. I made mine with a half shoulder of lamb because it was just for me …
Slow-cooked shoulder of lamb with red wine vinegar
half a shoulder of lamb, bone in, about 1kg
sea salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
about 200ml white wine
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
1 dried red chilli, roughly torn
3 garlic cloves, peeled
small bunch of sage
1 bay leaf
4 anchovy fillets, packed in oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Preheat the oven to 160°C. Trim the lamb of most of its surface fat and season it with the salt and a few grindings of pepper. Place a frying pan (big enough to fit the shoulder) over a medium heat and add the olive oil. When it’s really hot, put in the lamb shoulder. Brown well on all sides to get a good colour all over.
Transfer to a roasting tray and pour off the fat from the pan, returning it to the hob on a low heat. Add the wine and let it bubble and reduce for a couple of minutes, then pour over the lamb.
Toast the fennel seeds in a dry pan until fragrant and add them to the roasting tray with the chilli, garlic, sage, bay leaf, anchovies and wine vinegar. Cover the roasting pan with foil, seal it tightly. Cook for 3 hours on the middle shelf.
After this time, take the lamb out of the oven and take the foil off. Return to the oven to cook for a further 30 minutes, at which stage the lamb should be utterly soft and brown. Serve it with some farro or pearl barley or some boiled new potatoes.
(Recipe from My Favourite Ingredients by Skye Gyngell, Quadrille 2008)