Roasted Lamb Shoulder Recipe

Roasted Lamb Shoulder Recipe Recipe

Too many people tend to stay away from lamb because of its strong taste. I think that’s a mistake. If marinated properly, lamb is so flavorful, tender and juicy without being overpowering. The key is to use lots and lots of garlic, and my go-to meat tenderizer, green papaya (I can't be thankful enough for Lulu's late grandma's secret).

This particular recipe calls for a large chunk of lamb shoulder. To ensure that the meat doesn't burn at the bottom of the cocotte ("Dutch oven" in French) while roasting, I place carrots and par-boiled potatoes underneath so they catch all the delicious flavors from the roasted meat. Just thinking about it makes me drool!

Roasted Lamb Shoulder Recipe with Picture


Yields: 4 servings

2-½ pounds lamb shoulder
2 tablespoons papaya paste (see tips)
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon black pepper, freshly ground
6 cloves garlic, finely minced and puréed
2 cloves garlic, unpeeled and halved lengthwise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon honey
3 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
4 tablespoons olive oil
1-½ pounds red potatoes
2 carrots, sliced 1"-thick
1 leek, chopped
2 cups curly parsley, tightly packed and chopped


Parboiling the potatoes (see tips): Brush and wash the potatoes. Place them whole in a large pot (no need to peel them). Fill it with cold water until the potatoes are barely covered. It's important to start with cold water so the potatoes cook evenly. Bring to a boil, add 1 teaspoon of salt and reduce the heat to medium-high (if you cook the potatoes at a full boil, they might fall apart). As soon as the water reaches a boil, cook for about 10-11 minutes. Test, using a fork; the potatoes should be slightly tender but still firm. Remove from the pot. Drain the potatoes thoroughly and let them cool a little (do not rinse and let the liquid evaporate). Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle and have dried thoroughly, remove the skin. Cut them in half or quarters, depending on their size.

For the lamb marinade: In a large bowl, combine the butter, papaya paste, cayenne pepper, honey, puréed garlic, mustard, 1 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Season with salt and black pepper. Stir well. Create small incisions all over the meat, fill them with the marinade and cover the meat with the remaining marinade. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 10 hours or overnight (2 days are even better!).

Roasting lamb:

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Remove the meat from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes ahead of time to bring it back to room temperature before cooking.

In a Dutch oven, heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil until it's really hot. Add the leek and cook until fragrant. Add the potatoes and carrots. Cook for about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat.Transfer to a plate.

Cover the bottom of the Dutch oven with rosemary and add the halved garlic cloves. Return the potatoes, leeks and carrots. Place the marinated lamb shoulder on top. Season with a little salt.

Immediately place into the pre-heated oven and roast until a digital oven-proof thermometer placed in the center of the meat reads 145°F (see tips; it took 65 minutes for this piece), depending on how pink you like your meat.

 Remove the pan from the oven. Transfer the lamb to a large platter. Cover with a piece of aluminum foil. Let the meat rest for 30 minutes to an hour before slicing (I didn't re-heat the meat as I also like eating it at room temperature). That way the meat stays very juicy and tender.

Assembly time:
Slice the lamb into 3/4" thick pieces, fanning the slices for a nice presentation; serve immediately with the roasted potatoes.

Garnish with parsley.

Bon appétit!


I use green papaya as a meat tenderizer to ensure moist and juicy meat. The papaya paste was Baji, my husband Lulu's late grandma's secret for tender and moist meat. Peel a green papaya. Grind the cubed papaya with seeds in a mini food processor; place about 2 tablespoons of papaya paste per slot in an ice-cube tray and freeze them. Transfer the ice-cubes into sealable plastic bags and place back in the freezer.

Parboiling means briefly boiling the potatoes. Think "par-tial" boiling = parboiling.

The roasting time depends on how pink you like the lamb. If you want to be absolutely sure (and that's my fool-proof way of cooking lamb), just place a temperature probe in the center of the piece of meat, and remove the lamb from the oven when the thermometer registers  at least 130°F (I prefer 145°F, so the meat is less rosy). You can get a digital thermometer at IKEA for a reasonable price

Make sure to let the lamb shoulder rest before slicing it to ensure optimum tenderness of the meat.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on November 10, 2011.


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