Long cooked shoulders of lamb seem to be everywhere at the minute. And they sound like a wonderful idea for this time of year when each days seem noticeably shorter than the last - the cut is a bit cheaper than leg but still very meaty and palatable to those that don't like sucking and fiddling with bones to get their food. I got a half-shoulder from a supermarket and after browsing a few different recipes decided to go for a simple moist roast with lots of onions and garlic and a little white wine. The food went in to a low oven at about 1pm and the inclement weather meant I felt only a small speck of guilt at lounging at home and finishing watching Series 4 of The Tudors (err..).
For The Vegetarian a butternut squash and veg sausage toad-in-the-hole seemed like a good idea. I cut up the squash to roast and toasted the seeds with salt as a snack (forgetting to keep an eye on it and burning them in the process).
Every hour or so the lamb was inspected, prodded and puzzled over. Was it actually cooking at such a low temperature? Should I add more liquid? When, if at all, should I cover with foil? Would the onions be cooked, in fact should I have cut them into much smaller pieces?
As the hours progressed the meat was undeniably being cooked, but the great gusts of appetising lamb smells multiple blogs had promised me were not apparent.
Eventually everything seemed cooked and it was time to serve. I allowed the lamb a good rest of half an hour whilst the toad was being done.
It's very fatty lamb shoulder isn't it? I hadn't fully appreciated this. Big ribbons of stiff, opaque fat were all over the joint on both sides before cooking. It had been at least partially rendered during cooking of course, but in truth the grease of it was a little over-facing. It also tasted exactly like a normal piece of roast lamb. Bah! Am I doing it right? Maybe a full on braise next time: it's sure to become very moist and will allow a fat-skimming stage.