Lamb with 40 garlic cloves

Jill Dupleix
Don't be alarmed: Lamb with 40 garlic cloves.
Don't be alarmed: Lamb with 40 garlic cloves. Photo: William Meppem

France's famous 'chicken with 40 garlic cloves' is even better done with lamb. Forty cloves might sound like a lot of garlic but when it cooks down to such a sweet, almost caramelised, nutty paste and you squish it out onto your plate and eat it with the lamb, you'll be wishing you'd cooked it with twice as many.


1 lamb shoulder on the bone, about 2kg

1 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

2 whole heads of garlic

2 large onions, peeled and quartered

12 small chat potatoes, unpeeled

2 tbsp tomato paste

500ml red wine, eg shiraz

few sprigs rosemary

4 bay leaves

1 tbsp cold butter


1. Heat the oven to 220C. Rub the lamb shoulder with olive oil, salt and pepper. Cut one head of garlic in half crosswise, and break the other into cloves, leaving them unpeeled.

2. Place the lamb in an oiled roasting pan with the onions, potatoes and all the garlic, and bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

3. Reduce the temperature to 160C. Whisk the tomato paste into the red wine and add to the pan with the rosemary and bay leaves; cover tightly with foil, and bake for three-and-a-half to four hours until fork-tender.

4. Strain the sauce into a bowl and chill in the fridge for one hour, then remove the top layer of fat. Cover the lamb and vegetables and keep warm.

5. Bring the sauce to the boil in a small pan, whisk in the butter and return to the lamb.

6. When ready to serve, reheat the lamb in the sauce, then gently pull the meat apart into bite-sized chunks. Serve with the potatoes, onions, garlic cloves, fresh rosemary and the sauce.