A lovely roast for Sunday lunch and a great dish to serve at Easter. If your butcher is as friendly as mine and if you give them notice, they may happily incorporate your stuffing, then roll and tie the joint for you. Redcurrant sauce [see Hints and tips below] is an alternative to caper sauce, in which case the Gratin Dauphinoise would be a perfect accompaniment, individually cut out for an extra touch of elegance!
- Preheat the oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/gas 7. To make the stuffing, heat a little olive oil in
a sauté pan, add the onion and bacon and cook slowly for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Add the garlic, rosemary and mushrooms, and fry until all the liquid has evaporated. Add the spinach and pine nuts. Taste and season well. Tip onto a plate and spread out to cool.
- Meanwhile, open out the shoulder, skin-side down, and trim off all excess fat. Butterfly any thicker fleshy bits by slashing and opening them out. When the stuffing is cold, spread over the meat, distributing it into all the nooks and crannies, and fold the loose flaps back in, over the stuffing. Roll up tightly and secure with string, starting in the middle and working outwards equally and alternately along each side, at roughly 2.5–4cm intervals (around eight ties in total). Then tie once along the length of the joint, tucking the string underneath the first middle tie, to gain grip and make it tight. Push any escaped stuffing back inside the joint.
- Put the lamb into a roasting tin, rub with a little pouring salt and cook for 1 hour 5 minutes. Remove to a cold plate and leave to sit for 10 minutes to stop it cooking. Then keep it somewhere warm (such as the oven with the door ajar) to rest for a minimum of 30 minutes (45–60 minutes is better and longer is fine). Skim off the fat in the roasting tin and pour the juices into a little jug. Keep warm.
- To make the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan, stir in the flour to make a roux and cook for a minute. Gradually whisk in the milk and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, stirring or whisking all the time, until thickened. Bubble for a few minutes, then add the capers with a little of their liquid. If the mixture is too thick, thin it down with a little more milk and bubble it up again. Cover the surface with greaseproof paper and set aside.
- Just before serving, reheat the sauce, adding a little more milk, if necessary, to achieve a pouring consistency, and add any juices from the plate the lamb is resting on. Stir in the spinach or wild garlic leaves, if using, and transfer to a serving bowl or jug.
- Slice the lamb and arrange on a platter, pour over the reserved pan juices and serve with the caper sauce.
1 shoulder of lamb, boned
For the Stuffing
- Olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 rashers of streaky bacon, snipped into thin strips
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 2 sprigs of rosemary, leaves chopped
- 200g chestnut mushrooms, chopped
- 250g baby spinach, wilted, squeezed dry and roughly chopped
- A handful of pine nuts, toasted
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the Caper Sauce
- 40g butter
- 40g plain flour
- 700ml milk, possibly more
- 3 tbsp small capers, plus their juice
- A handful of spinach or wild garlic leaves, thinly shredded (optional)
Prepare to the end of step 2 up to a day ahead. The sauce (step 4) can be made up to three days in advance.
Hints and tips
Redcurrant sauce is a lovely alternative to caper sauce. Bring 4 tbsp redcurrant jelly, 4 tbsp red wine vinegar and 570 ml lamb or chicken stock (or 2 stock cubes) to the boil; simmer until reduced by about half. This can be made up to four days ahead, or frozen.
Recipes are from The Get Ahead Cook by Jane Lovett, with photography by Tony Briscoe. Published by Whitefox Publishing and available from all good booksellers.