Five Hour Lamb

Five Hour Lamb

I’ll be honest here. Sunday roasts kinda scare me. I normally feel very much in control in the kitchen but there’s something about timing roast dinners (whether it’s chicken, beef or lamb) I find a little daunting. In reality though, it’s about as simple as cooking gets. My downfall is “over-researching”; reading lots of different recipes and stressing that they all differ so much. But, I’ve now settled on this fool-proof method for slow-roasting a leg or shoulder of lamb.

I’ve used the cooking temperatures suggested by Hugh-Fearnley Whittingstall in his excellent “River Cottage Meat Book” – a “half-hour sizzle” at a high temperature, followed by 4½ hours of slow roasting at a low temperature. This method produces a truly delicious joint, soft enough to be eaten with a spoon! As a bonus, you’re also rewarded by a deliciously rich broth.


  • 1 shoulder(or leg) of lamb
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 stick celery, chopped
  • 1 glass white wine
  • 250ml water


  1. Peel 2 cloves of garlic cut each clove into 4 pieces. Chop one of the rosemary sprigs into 8 piece. Make small incisions in the lamb and stud with the garlic and rosemary. Season the lamb on all sides with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  2. Remove the leaves from the other sprig of rosemary and grind in a mortar and pestle, along with the last clove of garlic and some rock salt. Add 2 tbsp olive oil and mix. Smear the flavoured oil over the lamb joint. Place in a deep roasting dish and roast the joint for 30 minutes at 220°C.
  3. Take the tray out of the oven and set the lamb aside on a plate or board. Pour off some oil from the roasting tray if it seems excessive.
  4. Add the chopped vegetables to the roasting tray along with the wine and water. Place the lamb on top of the vegetables and cover loosely with foil. Reduce the oven temperature to 140°C and cook for another 4½ hours. You could get away with 3½ hours, but then it wouldn’t be “Five Hour Lamb”, would it?
  5. After 5 hours cooking, your lamb will be meltingly tender and delicious. You can put that carving knife away, you won’t need it. I rarely bother with thickening the amazing broth left in the roasting dish. But I do like to mash the vegetables into the broth, reduce slightly and strain. The flavour is absolutely amazing.

Serves 6.


  • Jamie-stylee – Jamie Oliver’s second book “The Return of The Naked Chef” includes a recipe entitled, I kid you not, “braised five hour lamb with wine, veg and all that“. Sod grammar, eh? It sounds great though, to be honest. Lamb and veg are all cooked together until the meat is melting. I just can’t get over the fact that the recipe includes an entire bottle of wine. I just can’t…
  • Rick-stylee – I remember seeing an episode of Rick Stein’s excellent series, “Mediterranean Escapes”. In this episode, an elderly Majorcan lady braises joints of lamb and vegetables in beer. San Miguel, no less. It looked fantastic and the Rick claims the resulting broth (or caldo) is delicious. I will definitely get around to this one at some stage.
  • Leftovers – in the unlikely event of having leftovers, I’d recommend a classic shepherd’s pie.

4 Responses to “Five Hour Lamb”

  1. 1 NenaghGal October 27, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    This lamb looks fantastic! Thanks for all the variations too!

  2. 3 Pascal December 25, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    Looks amazing, what’re the temps for fan assisted? Is it just taking off 20 degrees or so?

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