Give an Irish lamb shoulder a continental makeover with this comforting dish that’s perfect for this time of year.
The wonderful Croatian island of Pag, best known for its eponymous sheep’s milk cheese, also (and unsurprisingly) produces absolutely stunning lamb. This is a great winter dish, with the meat falling off the bone and packing a flavourful punch, thanks to both the hint of acidity from the vinegar and the richness of the Plavac Mali, the superstar red wine of the Croatian islands.
- 1.2kg whole shankless lamb shoulder
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 120g whole French shallots
- 5 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 bottle Plavac Mali red wine, or Zinfandel, Primitivo or any medium/full-bodied red wine
- 125ml red wine vinegar
- 1 sprig thyme
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 2 bay leaves
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- For the potatoes
- 800g potatoes, whole and unpeeled
- 200ml olive oil
For the leeks:
- 20 baby leeks
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 160C. Season the lamb shoulder well with salt and pepper.
- Heat the olive oil in a large, deep flame-proof casserole dish over a high heat for two minutes. Carefully add the lamb shoulder and brown all over. Remove the lamb and set aside.
- Turn the heat to low, add the shallots and garlic and cook until softened.
- Return the lamb to the dish and cover with the red wine and vinegar. Add the thyme, rosemary and bay leaves. Cover the casserole and cook in the oven for three and three-quarter hours, or until the lamb is very tender.
- Remove the lamb and cover with foil in a warm place. Strain the liquid through a sieve and return the cooking juices to a saucepan over low heat. Simmer the liquid until it reduces to a sauce consistency, then keep warm.
- Meanwhile, to make the olive oil mashed potatoes, place the potatoes in a large deep pan of cold water and boil until cooked through. While still hot, peel the potatoes and purée in a food mill or mouli. Beat in the oil and season with salt.
- To make the grilled baby leeks, trim the roots of the leeks, brush with olive oil and season with salt. Place on a hot grill and cook for a minute on each side. Serve the lamb on a platter with the sauce, olive oil potato mash and baby leeks.