Slow-roasted lamb shoulder with almonds

Neil Perry
Neil Perry's Middle-Eastern-inspired slow-roasted lamb shoulder with almonds.
Neil Perry's Middle-Eastern-inspired slow-roasted lamb shoulder with almonds. Photo: William Meppem

How does a substantial Middle Eastern-inspired banquet sound? Start with this lamb dish and add a fennel and orange salad, some garlic-flavoured yoghurt and either couscous or rice and you’ll have a very delicious meal indeed for a group of eight. When planning, remember that you’ll need to start it the day before and then factor in a full day’s cooking.


10 garlic cloves, peeled

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp sea salt

2 pinches saffron threads

1½ tbsp sweet paprika

1 tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp ground turmeric

pinch cayenne pepper

3 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

2 small bone-in shoulders of lamb (about 1kg each), or 1 larger shoulder (2kg)

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

juice of 1 lemon

extra virgin olive oil, to serve

½ cup of toasted slivered almonds

½ cup flat-leaf parsley (leaves only)


1. Using a mortar and pestle, crush the garlic cloves, cumin seeds, sea salt, saffron, paprika, ginger, turmeric and cayenne, then add the butter to make a thick, creamy marinade. Rub the marinade into the lamb and refrigerate overnight.

2. Remove the lamb from the refrigerator 2 hours before cooking.

3. Preheat oven to 130˚C. Place lamb shoulders in a roasting tin large enough to fit both and drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil. Add 125ml water. Fold the edges of two sheets of foil together to make a tent over the lamb, seal tightly then cook for 2½-3 hours.

4. Reduce the heat to 110˚C and cook for 4 hours more (if using a single large shoulder, keep oven at 130˚C for a similar cooking time). When the meat is ready, you will be able to tease it from the bone with a fork. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 20 minutes, opening up the foil a fraction, then shred the meat off the bone.

5. Place meat on a platter, or divide among plates, and serve with lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil with the slivered almonds and parsley scattered over the top, as well as a really good grind of fresh pepper. Serve with orange and fennel salad.

Also: If you'd like an extra course for a banquet-style meal for 8 people, try Neil's chicken with olives dish.