Food and drink

🐑 Slow-roasted lamb | 🍷 Spring reds

5 April 2024



Slow-roasted shoulder of spring lamb

Raymond Blanc is celebrating 40 years of Michelin-starred food at his Oxfordshire restaurant Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. “When I came here I was determined and dedicated to touch excellence, but I was also very French,” he tells Hannah Evans in The Times. “I took myself too seriously, like most French people do, and I would interrupt a conversation every two minutes to speak, just like the French do.” Britain, he says, “has taught me to be a better Frenchman”. With spring upon us, here’s his recipe for slow-roasted lamb shoulder.

Ingredients (serves 4-6)
1.5-2kg shoulder of lamb, plus 200g lamb bones and trimmings 
4 pinches of sea salt 
4 pinches of freshly ground black pepper 
2 rosemary sprigs, leaves picked and finely chopped 
3 sage leaves, finely chopped 
2 tbsp olive oil 
2 tbsp rapeseed oil 
1 garlic bulb, halved horizontally 
100ml white wine 
1 bay leaf 
3 thyme sprigs

1. Lightly score the skin of the lamb. Rub all over with the salt, pepper, herbs and olive oil. Set aside to marinate at room temperature for one hour ensuring the meat is out of the fridge for at least two hours in total before cooking.
2. Preheat the oven to 230C fan/gas 9. Heat the rapeseed oil in a heavy-duty roasting pan over a medium heat. Add the lamb bones and meat trimmings and colour, turning from time to time, for 7–10 mins until lightly golden. Avoid colouring the bones too much to avoid a bitter jus.
3. Add the garlic and brown for 3 mins, then take the pan off the heat.
4. Sit the seasoned lamb shoulder on top of the bones and roast in the oven for 20 mins. Make sure the joint is raised from the bottom of the pan to keep it moist.
5. In another small pan, bring the wine to the boil and bubble for 30 seconds, then add 400ml hot water, the bay leaf and the thyme.
6. Take the lamb out of the oven and baste with the pan juices, removing any excess fat. Add the wine mixture, stirring to scrape up the sediment on the base, to create a flavourful jus.
7. Turn the oven to 150C fan/gas 3. Cover the meat loosely with foil and return to the oven. Roast for a further four hours, basting every 30 mins with the pan juices. If at the end of cooking the pan juices are reduced right down, stir in about 100ml hot water.
8. Remove the lamb from the oven. Strain the juices into a small saucepan and remove the excess fat from the surface. Set the lamb aside to rest. Reheat the juices until bubbling, then taste and adjust the seasoning. Pour into a warmed sauceboat.
9. For a French twist, serve with salsa verde instead of mint sauce. To make from scratch, simply mix two chopped shallots, two chopped gherkins, a handful of capers and a crushed clove of garlic with around four tablespoons of olive oil, a dash of Dijon mustard, half a teaspoon of red vinegar and lots of fresh herbs (parsley, mint, basil, tarragon) until smooth.

Buy Kitchen Secrets by Raymond Blanc here.


Now that the clocks have gone forward, it’s time for wine drinkers to “switch into light red mode”, says Fiona Beckett in The Guardian. These can be “remarkably refreshing”, and with wine styles everywhere getting lighter and fresher, your options are no longer limited to the traditional French regions of Beaujolais, Burgundy and the Loire. Here are three of the best from elsewhere:

Tenuta Fernanda Cappello Refosco dal Peduncolo Rosso 2022, Italy, 13%, Tanners, £12.40
A staple in the wine bars of Venice, this is “really delicious”, with hints of vanilla, and the sweet fruity flavours of blueberries, cherry and rhubarb fool.

Pizzini Nonna Gisella Sangiovese 2022, Australia, 13.9%, NY Wines, £16.25
This Australian number has it all, with earthy flavours including spiced plums, chocolate and Italian herbs. Perfect with pizza or spaghetti bolognese, and “thoroughly smashable”.

Adnams Cinsault Darling 2020, South Africa, 13.5%, £7.99 
Made by a South African indie, this Cinsault is “surprisingly fresh” for a 2020 wine. It has delicate notes of white pepper and red cherry – and it’s “incredibly good value”.

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