Roast Shoulder of Lamb Stuffed with Fig Balls

I discovered fig balls at that wonderful emporium Valvonna and Crolla, in Edinburgh, described by Elizabeth David as the best Italian delicatessen in Great Britain. I assure you, nothing’s changed. Fig balls are traditional for Christmas in Italy. The figs are formed into balls and roasted slowly, then wrapped in vine leaves. I buy a whole lot at Christmas to last me. The taste and texture is rich and sensuous. If youcan’t find fig balls, you can use dried figs resuscitated in cold tea, but they are not as good.


  • 1 shoulder of lamb
  • 1–2 fig balls (depending on size of joint)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • a wineglass of port


Bone out the lamb shoulder (or have your butcher do it for you).

Break up the fig balls and mix with the onion. Season with salt and pepper. Stuff the lamb with this and sew up or secure with skewers. Roast in a preheated oven at 180°C/350°F/Gas 4 for 15 minutes to each 450 g/1 lb.

Remove the joint from the tin and set it aside to rest while you deglaze the roasting juices with the port. Reduce to make a sauce and check the seasoning. Serve with the lamb.