Stuffed Shoulder of Lamb Wrapped in Pastry

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This is an impressive piece for a large dinner party. It can be prepared well ahead, even the day before, and simply put in the oven shortly before the meal to cook the pastry. As the meat is boned, the serving is simple, providing you use a large, well-sharpened knife.

Ingredients

  • 1 boned shoulder of English lamb, weighing about 1.2–1.5 kg (2½-3 lb)
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 250 g (8 oz) spinach or kale, thick stalks removed, washed and drained
  • 125 g (4 oz) chestnut mushrooms, chopped finely
  • 2 large cloves garlic, chopped finely
  • 50 g (2 oz) shelled walnuts, chopped finely
  • 75 g (3 oz) mature Cheddar cheese, grated coarsely
  • 500 g (1 lb) packet puff pastry, thawed if frozen
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Salt and black pepper

For the Sauce

  • 3 tablespoons brandy
  • 300 ml (½ pint) double cream
  • Salt and black pepper

Method

If the lamb has been tied up, undo the string and lay the meat out flat. Smear the flesh with the lemon juice. To make the stuffing, put the spinach leaves into a food processor and whizz until very finely chopped. Turn into a mixing bowl and add the finely chopped mushrooms, garlic, walnuts and the grated cheese. Season with a little salt and freshly ground black pepper, then mix together thoroughly with a wooden spoon.

Press the stuffing mixture on to the lamb and into any pockets in the meat. Roll up the lamb loosely to enclose the stuffing as much as possible, pressing it back in with your fingers as it falls out. Secure in as neat a shape as possible with string and/or skewers and put into a roasting tin. Rub the joint all over with sea salt.

Cook the meat in a preheated oven, 180°C, 350°F, Gas Mark 4 for hours according to the size of the joint and how well done you like your lamb, basting occasionally with the pan juices. Remove the meat from the oven and leave in the tin until cold.

When the meat is completely cold, remove and discard any solidified fat. Press any of the stuffing which may have oozed out of the joint back into the meat and carefully remove the string and/or skewers. Pour the pan juices into a small bowl and reserve in the refrigerator.

On a lightly floured surface roll out the pastry thinly into a piece big enough to completely enclose the meat. Wrap up the meat in the pastry like a parcel, moistening the pastry edges to seal and cutting off any excess pastry at the corners to make decorations.

Place the joint with the join of pastry underneath in a greased roasting tin. Roll out the pastry trimmings and cut out decorations for the joint. Attach them with water. Cut 3–4 small slits in the pastry for the steam to escape. Refrigerate the pastry-covered meat for at least 30 minutes before cooking.

Brush the pastry all over with the beaten egg and cook in the centre of a preheated oven, 200°C, 400°F, Gas Mark 6 for 30-40 minutes until a glossy, rich brown. Leave the joint in the oven with the heat turned off while you make the sauce.

Bring the reserved meat juices to the boil in a saucepan with the brandy and cream and bubble for a minute or two. Season to taste with salt and black pepper and pour into a sauceboat to serve with the meat. Cut the joint into slices to serve.

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