The terrific growth of the West Shore in recent years, paired with the strong building sector, has resulted in an explosion of food service businesses. It’s been a challenge for these operations to attract and retain qualified cooks and chefs. Cooking food professionally has always been a field where passion overrides the desire to make big bucks. Yet, in today’s marketplace, those who have the necessary skills, both technical and interpersonal, are in very high demand. When paired with a strong business sense and a determination to push the boundaries of gastronomic creativity, cooks in our current landscape can expect to be hugely successful.
One thing we hear frequently in the culinary world these days is “what is old is new again.” That is no truer than when considering classic cooking methods. In the marketplace of ever-increasing prices for meat, it’s not just economical, but down right delicious to adopt methods that will tenderize and tease out the wonderful flavours of cheaper, tougher cuts of meat.
The recipe this month—while somewhat time consuming—is not difficult. The outcome is spectacular, with so much melt-in-the-mouth flavour from a succulent lamb shoulder. The recipe is effective for almost any of the tough, working muscles found in beef, pork or lamb, and even game. However, the combination of fat and collagen with the lean meat in the shoulder, otherwise referred to as the ‘chuck’ or ‘butt’, provides the juiciest, most mouth-watering results. The time you spend preparing this luscious recipe will be worth every minute! I guarantee it!
GREEK LAMB SHOULDER
Yield: 10-12 servings
NOTE: Start 2 DAYS before it is required. It’s worth it!
1 Lamb shoulder, bone-in, approx. 2½ – 3 kg
120ml Olive oil
2 Lemons cut into quarters
6 cloves Garlic, bruised (to rub on meat)
6 sprigs Rosemary, fresh
10ml Oregano, dried
5ml Ground black pepper
200g Onions, large dice
100g Celery, large dice
100g Carrots, large dice
6 cloves Garlic, bruised (to add with vegetables)
200g Tomatoes, chopped
2 Bay leaves
1 sprig Thyme
200ml White wine
1.5L Lamb stock, hot (beef stock is acceptable)
To taste Salt and pepper
- VERY IMPORTANT STEP – In a large bowl, thoroughly rub lamb with oil, lemons (squeezed hard and rubbed on the skin and on the rough end of the bones), garlic, rosemary, oregano (bruise the herbs to extract lots of their flavour) and pepper. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- In large ovenproof pot, heat some of the olive oil from lamb marinade. Scrape off lemon, garlic, herbs etc. from the lamb—but DO NOT throw out! Season with salt and pepper. Brown shoulder on all sides in the hot oil and then set aside.
- In same pot and hot oil, add onions, celery, carrots and garlic, season and sauté gently until just beginning to brown. Add tomatoes, bay and thyme. Cook stirring frequently until thick, reduced, and just beginning to brown on the bottom of the pot.
- Deglaze with the wine to clean the bottom of the pot. Add the hot stock, bringing it to a simmer.
- Place lamb shoulder into the liquid. Cover with lid and place into 150˚C/300˚F oven. Cook for at least 5 hours until tender. A fork inserted into the lamb will wiggle easily if it’s done.
- Very carefully remove the lamb with two large spoons and place on tray. It will be very tender and delicate! Cover with plastic to prevent it drying out.
- Pour the remaining sauce through a strainer into a clean pot and simmer hard. Frequently skim the ‘scum’ with a small ladle as it rises to the surface. Reduce liquid to a rich sauce and verify seasoning. Add any fluid from the cooling meat as well.
- Once lamb is cool enough to handle, but still warm, carefully remove ALL bones, connective tissue and fat. Try not to break up the meat too much. (At this point, it could be served like pulled pork.) Place on a double layer of plastic wrap. Carefully roll into a large ‘sausage’ and twist ends as tight as you can to hold meat together. Wrap in another piece of plastic wrap to seal. Chill completely before cutting.
- Cut into 10-12 portions, leaving plastic film around each portion. Place portions in a shallow pan and cover with the hot cooking sauce. Cover with foil and reheat gently in 175⁰C/350⁰F oven for 10-15 minutes. (If you have a vacuum sealer, place each one in a small bag and seal, reheat in simmering water). Serve on soft polenta or mashed potato.