Sweet and Tender Lamb Cooked in Beer

This recipe is specially suitable for English or Welsh lamb and makes a refreshingly different main course for a winter Sunday lunch party. The beer serves as a marinade which becomes an excellent gravy.


  • 50 g/2 oz pitted prunes
  • 2 tablespoons chunky marmalade
  • 50 g/2 oz tin anchovy fillets
  • 2 small onions
  • 2-2.5 kg/4½-5½ lb shoulder of English lamb
  • 1 tablespoon wine vinegar or elder vinegar
  • 600 ml/1 pint lager
  • a little olive oil
  • 225 g/8 oz shallots
  • 2 rounded teaspoons honey
  • 25 g/1 oz cornflour
  • sea salt
  • black pepper


Chop the prunes finely and put them into a bowl with the marmalade, then empty the anchovies with their oil into the bowl. Peel and finely chop the onions and stir them into the mixture. Season with salt and black pepper and mix thoroughly.

Using a sharp knife, cut 3 or 4 deep pockets in the underside of the lamb. Spoon the prune and anchovy mixture into them, then rub the meat with the vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Turn the lamb over and put it into a roasting pan — not too big. Pour the lager into the pan, cover with cling film and leave in the fridge to marinate for at least 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/gas mark 3. Rub the top of the lamb with a little olive oil and sea salt and cook in the centre of the oven for 2¼-2¼ hours. After it has been in the oven for 30 minutes, peel the shallots, leaving them whole, and add them to the juices in the roasting pan, stirring in the honey at the same time. At the end of the cooking, turn off the heat, open the oven door slightly and leave the meat to rest for about 20 minutes — this makes it easier to carve.

When the lamb is ready, transfer it to a carving board. Using a slotted spoon, scoop up the shallots and put them into a serving bowl. Mix the cornflour to a smooth paste with 2 tablespoons of water and stir it into the pan juices. Put the roasting pan on top of the stove and stir over a medium heat, letting the juices bubble for 2-3 minutes, until thickened. Pour this gravy into the bowl with the shallots to spoon over the carved lamb.