Winter treat: Slow-cooked lamb shoulder is great served with a farro and roast pumpkin salad.
Winter treat: Slow-cooked lamb shoulder is great served with a farro and roast pumpkin salad. Photo: Marcel Aucar

I admit I love winter. It’s the best season for spending afternoons in the kitchen without feeling too guilty for not getting out in the beautiful weather. Slow-cooked dishes and one-pot wonders are exactly what I’m after on cold cooking days. 

Lamb or pork shoulder, oxtail and beef brisket are my favourite proteins for this type of cooking. When slow-cooking shoulders of lamb at MoVida, we do it by encasing them in a heavy plastic bag and placing them in a water bath with a device called a circulator, which keeps the water temperature at 85 degrees. We cook them for about seven hours and then let them cool in their own juices in the bag. 

This gentle way of cooking breaks down the connective tissues and gives you a very succulent and tender piece of meat. The method of cooking the lamb shoulder in this recipe will give you a very similar outcome.  The farro and roast pumpkin salad goes with it perfectly, and Middle Eastern delis will have shanklish cheese and baharat spice mix.

Slow-cooked lamb shoulder

4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

finely grated zest of 2 lemons 

2 tbsp baharat spice mix

2 tbsp dried oregano

3 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp salt

2.5 kg lamb shoulder, on the bone

 In a bowl, mix together the garlic, lemon zest, baharat spice, oregano, oil and salt. Take a  deep roasting tin large enough to snugly fit the lamb shoulder. Rub the marinade all over the lamb, cover with plastic wrap and leave to marinate for a few hours. Preheat the oven to 150C. Remove the plastic from the lamb and add 300 millilitres of water to the roasting tin. Cover the meat with baking paper, cover the tin tightly with foil, then place in the oven and roast for three  hours. Turn the oven temperature down to 110C and cook for a further five to six hours, checking every so often and adding a little more water if the tin is dry. Remove the foil for the last hour of roasting to crisp the skin.

 The meat is ready when you can press it with a fork and it has no resistance, so it is falling off the bone. Place the joint on a serving platter and shred the meat from the bone at the table. The juices can be served with the meat, but skim off the fat first. Serve the lamb with the farro salad, lemon wedges and salt. 

Serves 6 

Farro with roast pumpkin

1 cup farro  

2 tbsp Pedro Ximenez sherry 

150ml extra virgin olive oil plus 2 tbsp

2 red onions 

600g pumpkin, peeled, deseeded, cut into thin wedges

pinch chilli flakes

salt and pepper

2 lemons, juiced

2 green onions, sliced on the diagonal

1 cup coriander leaves, coarsely chopped 

50g shanklish cheese

Place the farro in a saucepan. Cover with plenty of water then bring to the boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until tender (I don’t add salt to the water when cooking grains and pulses as it can toughen them). Drain, then while the farro is warm, stir in sherry and one tablespoon of oil. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 200C. Cut the onions into wedges, trimming the root end but leaving enough intact so the onions won’t break apart, and place in a large bowl with the pumpkin. Add a tablespoon of oil and toss to combine. Put the vegetables  in a single layer on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Sprinkle with the chilli flakes and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook for 30-40 minutes until tender. Remove from the oven and cool slightly for five minutes. Place the lemon juice and remaining olive oil in a jar, season with salt and pepper, seal then shake well. Combine the farro, roasted vegetables, green onions and coriander then dress with the lemon dressing, taste and season before serving. Place on a serving plate and crumble shanklish cheese over the top.

Serves 6

Tip

If you can’t find farro, brown rice is an excellent alternative, and goat’s cheese can be substituted for shanklish.