When we were in Queenstown recently we ate at this fabulous restaurant called “Public Kitchen”. It had a very extensive tasting plate menu and everything was exceptionally good. This is a rendition of what was one of my favourite dishes on their menu……it was so good I ordered a second one. Tender lamb shoulder braised low and slow in wine, garlic and herbs and then to complete an already outstanding dish, creamy white beans and sweet, plump grape tomatoes. Lamblicious.
This could be done in the slow cooker but I would do it in two parts. Lamb first and then the beans……I would be taking a guess on timing but I would think Lamb for 5 hours, remove and add the beans etc for the last 3 hours…..all on low. Like I said, a guess only but you really can’t stuff up a slow cooker! Make sure you brown the meat first!!
Prep time: 20 Minutes
Cooking time: 6.5-7 Hours
$$ Low – Medium Budget
2kg Lamb shoulder, bone in (you could do boneless if you prefer)
1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
4 sprigs of rosemary
1 tbs of honey
1 cup of white wine
1 cup of chicken stock
2 tbs of balsamic vinegar
1 tbs of red wine vinegar
Sea salt and cracked pepper
1 cup of fresh basil leaves, finely shredded (at the last minute) for garnish
For the Beans:
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 large brown onion, diced
150gm of speck, rind removed and sliced into batons
2 rosemary sprigs, leaves removed and stalks discarded
6 thyme sprigs, leaves removed and stalks discarded
2 bay leaves
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
3 strips of lemon rind
1 punnet of grape or cherry tomatoes
3 tins of cannellini beans, drained (reserve 1/2 a cup of the starchy liquid)
1/2 cup of stock
Sea salt and cracked pepper
Pre heat the oven to 150°C
Place the lamb shoulder in a large baking dish and lightly score the top with a sharp knife. Season generously with salt and pepper. Combine the olive oil, wine, stock, balsamic vinegar, honey, red wine vinegar, garlic and rosemary leaves in a jug and whisk to combine. Pour the mixture over the top of the lamb, trying to keep as much of the garlic and rosemary on top as you can. Cover the dish very tightly with foil and bake in the oven for 5 hours, basting occasionally. When you baste, make sure the foil is tightly sealed.
After 5 hours remove the lamb from the oven and place it on a plate, cover with foil. Drain the liquid through a sieve and place it in the freezer for 30 Minutes or until the fat starts to solidify. You can even pop the lamb in the fridge and continue the next steps the following day. Once the fat has mostly solidified, remove it with a spoon, discard and reserve the left over liquid for the beans.
Increase the heat of the oven to 170°C. Heat a large heavy based pot or baking dish and add the speck pieces. Fry until golden and the fat has rendered out. Add a little more olive oil if necessary and then fry the onions until soft before adding the garlic, lemon rind and herbs and seasoning with a little salt and pepper. Stir fry the mixture until aromatic and then add the beans, lemon juice, stock, tomatoes, 1 cup of the reserved lamb liquid and the starchy liquid from the beans. Bring to the boil and then transfer the lamb back to the dish, leaving the skin exposed and the beans underneath and place the whole lot in the oven for a further 11/2 hours, lifting the lamb and stirring once or twice.
Remove the dish from the oven and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes. Sprinkle over the shredded basil to serve. I like to serve this as a share style meal in the middle of the table. Remove the bones from the lamb (they should just slide out) and then break the lamb up with tongs and a fork. The beans will be all lovely and creamy and it went brilliantly with some steamed green beans and roasted baby carrots. This is peasant food at its absolute finest and probably my favourite way of sharing a gorgeous, hearty meal with friends or family. I hope you love it too!!
Ps: Removing the fat is optional! I find a shoulder cut can be really fatty so like to get rid of it. If you don’t have time to do the freezer thing then just scoop it out with a spoon.