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Slow-Baked Lamb Shoulder with Fennel and Harissa Recipe

An excellent dish that cooks without attention, after about 10 minutes initial preparation.

The harissa gives a pleasant warmth to the dish, without making it 'hot'. It's ideal served with our recipe of 'Couscous with Mediterranean Vegetables' (q.v.) and perhaps 'Cucumber & Mint Raita' (q.v.), but a mixed salad or mashed potatoes would be good and simpler alternatives. It's designed to be so tender as to be served with a fork and spoon - rather than carved with a knife.

Harissa (the hot fiery paste) can be bought in jars from all good deli's and upmarket supermarkets.

This is one of those dishes that improves if reheated, as any fat that comes to the surface as the liquid cools is more easily removed, and flavours sink into the lamb.

If you enjoy cooking take a minute to look at ‘Simon Scrutton Cookery Classes’ on Google – and learn how to make top class bistro-style dishes. Suitable for beginners upwards.


For 4 generous helpings 6 smaller ones:

3 large Onions, peeled and sliced

3 Fennel Bulbs, finely sliced

1 Bulb of Garlic, peeled but the cloves left whole

50ml/2 fl oz.Wine Vinegar

300ml/10 fl oz. Red Wine

2 heaped (20ml) dessertspoons of Harissa

100ml/4 fl oz. Olive Oil

1 rounded teaspoon (5ml) Salt

A few grinds of Black Pepper

1 large Shoulder of Lamb, weighing 1.5 kilos/3 lbs or above

2 teaspoons (10mg) Cornflour - optional (see below)

Equipment needed: a casserole, large enough to hold all the ingredients, with a close-fitting lid


1. Preheat the oven to 150ºC/300ºF/Gas 2/
2. Mix all the ingredients, except the lamb, together in the casserole, then add the lamb joint – flat side down, so the main fatty side on top. Bed the lamb down into the vegetable base.
3. Cover with enough water to come three-quarters of the way up the sides of the meat.
4. Heat the casserole on top of the cooker, slowly bringing the mixture to the boil.
5. Cover with a lid and transfer to the pre-heated oven
6. Bake the casserole in the oven for 5 hours, basting the top of the meat once, half way through.
7. Remove the casserole from the oven and remove the lamb, return this to a very low oven if you plan to eat now/soon or allow to cool if eating at a later time.
8. Transfer the vegetables and liquid to a plastic jug or deep glass bowl, so you can see the fat as it comes to the top, fat will continue to rise as the mixture cools.
9. When you are happy, you have remove as much fat as possible, share some vegetables between your plates and place some lamb on top of each one. (You can thicken the sauce a little by dissolving 2 rounded teaspoons of Cornflour in a little cold sauce then reheat it, it you'd like more body to your sauce)


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ideal to cook in a slow cooker
ideal to cook in a slow cooker