Yes, this takes 6 hours. Yes, you will need arm extensions to read the ingredients list. Yes, there are a few steps involved. BUT, I promise this will be the best shoulder of lamb you have ever had. Confit sounds indulgent, and maybe it is a bit, but what it should really say to you is: low, slow, and meltingly tender. No matter what it is you’re confiting, it will be caressed for hours in a luxurious and moisturizing layer of, well, fat. But it will emerge with ignorable fattiness and with an incredible silkiness that can only come from this method of cooking.
The brine (sans water).
The duck fat.
Recipe adapted from Paul Ainsworth’s Lamb Shoulder Pastilla, Baked Beetroot, Salsa Verde
150g/5oz fine Salt
1 sprig Thyme
1 sprig Rosemary
1 bay Leaf
1 Star Anise
2 cloves Garlic, crushed with peel on
1 Lemon, peel only
1kg boneless Lamb Shoulder
1.5kg Duck Fat
3 large sprigs Thyme
3 large sprigs Rosemary
1 Bay Leaf
½ head of Garlic
200ml Sherry, Red Wine or Port
4 small fresh Beetroot, peeled
Olive Oil, for drizzling
10g/¼oz fresh thyme leaves
10g/¼oz chopped rosemary
175g picked Mint
110g picked Flat Leaf Parsley
75g picked Basil (You can substitute other fresh herbs like coriander, but the mint is important)
1 Shallot, finely chopped
1 clove Garlic, very finely sliced
2 tsp Mustard (English or Dijon)
6 Anchovy fillets, marinated in brine
300ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil
10g Capers, drained
Brine the lamb
- Mix all the ingredients except the lamb together in a saucepan with 2 litres of water and bring to a simmer, just to dissolve the sugar and salt.
- Leave to cool, then submerge the lamb into the brine, cover and place in the fridge for 24 hours.
Confit the lamb
- Melt the fat with the herbs and garlic in a roasting tin over the hob to 85ºC (185ºF) using a food thermometer to check (I didn’t check, just melted it in the roasting tin in the oven. It still worked!). Take the lamb shoulder out of the brine, pat it dry and carefully place it into the hot fat.
- Cover with foil and cook for 6 hours either on the hob, or in the oven at 100ºC (225ºF), checking and turning the lamb every hour.
- The lamb is cooked when you can push a roasting fork or skewer through the meat like a block of butter*.
- Shred with a fork and place shredded lamb into a chef’s ring on the plate. Arrange beets and accompaniments around the lamb and top with salsa verde.
*You can make the confit lamb ahead of time, shred with a fork and shape in a chef’s ring and refrigerate. Reheat by frying gently on either side and added small amounts of reduced lamb stock to make sure everything stays moist.
Roast the beets
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC (350ºF).
- Cut four squares of baking paper and foil the same size, big enough to wrap the bee and have a little excess at the top.Heat the sherry/wine/port in a pan and cook until it has reduced to half its volume.
- Cut the beets at the top with a cross nearly all the way through, season with the olive oil, salt and pepper all over making sure you get it inside the beet.
- Drizzle a little bit of the reduced sherry all over the beets and finish with a few slices of the picked thyme and rosemary.
- Pull the sides of the foil and baking paper up then add a splash of water to each beet. This will help steam them during cooking.
- Now wrap them up, bringing the baking paper and foil together to seal the parcel.
- Bake in the oven for one hour.
- Take the beets out the oven and keep warm. Don’t open until you are ready to serve.
Make the salsa verde
- Heat a large, deep saucepan of water until boiling. Have a bowl of iced water ready to cool the herbs down. Add all the fresh herbs to the pan of boiling water and make sure they are completely submerged for 10 seconds.
- Take the herbs out, shaking them off then plunge them into the iced water.
- Fry the shallot and garlic in a pan with a little oil for three minutes with a pinch of salt.
- When the shallot is soft, add the mustard and anchovies. Mix well, take off the heat to cool and add 200ml of the olive oil.
- Drain the herbs and stir them into the shallot mixture. Add the capers. Place the mixture in a food processor or with a hand blender and start to blend, gradually adding the remaining 100ml of olive oil. Don’t blend for too long – leave the mixture with some texture.
- Season to taste with salt and sherry vinegar.
- Keep the salsa verde at room temperature in a bowl covered with plastic wrap.