A.N.’S Slow Shoulder of Lamb

My beloved A.N. Wilson dreamt up this dish for the hurried cook who has to go out and about and likes to return to a fait accompli at the end of the day He is a very good cook and deeply interested in food, but has little time to indulge. This receipt uses tins of haricot beans but you can of course cook your own if you prefer.

Ingredients

  • 1 shoulder of lamb, about
  • 1.8 kg/4 lb
  • 2 large tins of haricot beans or 4 small ones
  • 300-450 ml/½-¾ pint white wine
  • 2 large onions
  • 10 shallots
  • 6 tomatoes, quartered
  • 3 tbsp tomato purée
  • salt and black peppercorns
  • 10 whole cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 2.bayleaves
  • 3 branches of rosemary

Method

Ask your butcher to cut off the knuckle end of the shoulder but keep it. (This makes it easier to fit in a casserole.) Put both pieces of the shoulder in a good ovenware pot. Cover with the beans and their liquid, the wine, onions and shallots roughly chopped, the tomatoes and the purée, the garlic, several crushed peppercorns and salt to taste. Tuck in the bay leaves and the rosemary. A.N. has an Aga and cooks the shoulder for about 4 hours in the simmering oven and then in the roasting oven for another hour or so to suit himself. With an ordinary cooker, I would put the covered casserole in a preheated oven at 140°C/275°F/Gas l for the 4 hours, then increase the temperature to 220°C/425°F/Gas 7 for the last part. Have a look at it now and then to make sure it is not drying out, also give it the odd stir to combine all the vegetables and juices.

The first 4 hours can be done the day before and is really no trouble. I would also add some anchovies, which are excellent with lamb; you cannot actually taste them but they have a very enhancing effect on the flavour. Black olives are another good addition. At the end of cooking, the meat will drop off the bone and all the fat will have disappeared into the vegetables in some miraculous manner. Serve in good, big old–fashioned soup plates. For accompaniment this dish requires nothing more than a vast, crisp green salad and a good crust of bread.