Holiday Entertaining

Jamie Oliver's Roasted Shoulder of Lamb with Smashed Veg & Greens

March 27, 2013

Every week -- often with your help -- Food52's Senior Editor Kristen Miglore is unearthing recipes that are nothing short of genius.

Today: The tenderest-loving lamb roast, and a brilliant Easter feast (that leaves you plenty of time for the egg hunt). 


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When you spend the day ferreting around for eggs in the yard and eating chocolate bunny parts, the roast lamb supper can seem rather somber in comparison. 

But not if you get Jamie Oliver involved. He'd want you to make a rustic, beautiful lamb shoulder feast, with roughly smashed root vegetables and curls of cabbage, and a spunky mint sauce to douse it all. And he'd want you to have a really good time doing it.


In case you're not so sure: last week, Lori Galvin, Cookbook Editor at America's Test Kitchen, sent me this message on Twitter: "I've made this Jamie Oliver lamb recipe 3x in 6 weeks!" Within 72 hours, we'd tested, photographed, and devoured two ourselves. 

Its genius is threefold:

1. The lamb shoulder: Oliver calls for an unsung cut of meat that normally gets hacked up into chops while we gather around the more expensive leg or crown rack. Chefs like Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray, Lidia Bastianich, and Marc Vetri have been trying to tell us about it for years, but we're not very good listeners.

Like pork shoulder, there's loads of flavor tucked away inside, much richer and sweeter than your average leg of lamb -- if you know how to cook it right.

2. The roasting method: You start with your oven "at a full whack," says Oliver, a.k.a. as high as it will go (450 to 500 degrees). This blast of heat gives the roast a jump start, rendering the fat and letting it bubble down into the meat, dragging garlic and rosemary along with it. 

But as soon as it goes in the oven, you immediately downshift to 325 degrees and slow-roast the thing, covered tightly with foil, for about four hours. Knotty, hard-working pieces of meat don't need much more than gentle heat and time to loosen up all that connective tissue and turn the meat into a melting heap, sliding off the bone.

3. The rest of the feast: Oliver gives us a celebratory, Beatrix Potter-colored spread that comes together in the time it takes to cook a weeknight dinner. (In fact, if you subbed quick-cooking lamb chops, this could be dinner tonight.) 


Each side is left plain and good, just like the lamb. Greens (Savoy cabbage, or whatever looks good at the market) are blanched and tossed in butter, salt, and pepper. Carrots, potatoes, and rutabaga boil together, then get crushed into a sunny, speckled orange mash, with more butter.

And finally you make a pan sauce from the sticky lamb drippings and smack it to life with red wine vinegar, capers, and a lot of mint (to make up for the fact that you've forgotten mint jelly exists).

Once you're all together at the table -- your loved ones weakened in the manhunt for wayward eggs, wild-eyed from eating little but spangly chocolates all day -- Oliver has you tear apart the lamb roast with a fork. Beat that, Peeps

Jamie Oliver's Roasted Shoulder of Lamb with Smashed Veg & Greens

Adapted slightly from and Jamie at Home (Hyperion 2008)

Serves 6

For the lamb:

1 (4.4-pound) bone-in lamb shoulder
Olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large bunch fresh rosemary
1 bulb garlic, unpeeled, broken into cloves

For the vegetables and mint sauce:

1 1/2 pounds peeled potatoes, cut into large chunks
3 large carrots, peeled and cut into small chunks
1/2 a large rutabaga, peeled and cut into small chunks
6 tablespoons butter (divided)
1 pound lovely greens, such as white cabbage, savoy cabbage, Brussels sprouts tops or cavolo nero, leaves separated, stalks finely sliced
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 cups good-quality hot chicken or vegetable stock
2 heaped tablespoons capers, soaked, drained and chopped
1 large bunch fresh mint, leaves picked
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Got a genius recipe to share -- from a classic cookbook, an online source, or anywhere, really? Please send it my way (and tell me what's so smart about it) at [email protected].

Photos by James Ransom

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I'm an ex-economist, lifelong-Californian who moved to New York to work in food media in 2007, before returning to the land of Dutch Crunch bread and tri-tip barbecues in 2020. Dodgy career choices aside, I can't help but apply the rational tendencies of my former life to things like: recipe tweaking, digging up obscure facts about pizza, and deciding how many pastries to put in my purse for "later."


artclady2 December 19, 2013
Can I use a boneless lamb shoulder?
Rocky P. October 24, 2013
Jamie, Thank you for sharing this recipe. We tried this to night and the lamb roast was really good. We will also use this recipe from now on. Thank you so much!!!!
Sauertea April 7, 2013
Made this today and substituted white turnips for the rutabaga. So amazingly good. Super King had lamb shoulder on special so I lucked out. Thanks to the hotline for the answers to my questions. I served with the suggested montepulciano de abruzzo which was perfect!!
Philomena M. April 1, 2013
I'm seriously poor right now. I also live alone. All the lamb pieces I found ,were over 30$ .
So I went to a few stores,before I found smaller pieces.All they had were shanks.
I got one that was about 1.6lbs.
I only cooked it about 2 hours and 45 min,at 300F.
I made the potatoes and carrots,with blue organic carrots ,which are so delicious . I did the cabbage with just butter ,salt pepper and a sprinkle of hot pepper flakes .
I also took a couple of the roasted cloves of garlic ,and mashed them up ,and emulsified them into the gravy . Yummy . I got three portions out of it all of it . Left overs rule . Thank you .
Nissa March 31, 2013
My shop only sold lamb shoulder in chops, can I still use this recipe?
Destry April 1, 2013
Chops were all I could find too, but they worked great. I rubbed each chop with oil, salt and pepper and piled them up on top of the rosemary/garlic in my cast iron skillet; then followed the receipe as written. It was a big hit.
kitchenfish March 30, 2013
This is amazing. Dinner table was silent! The mint sauce is heavenly, do follow the advice and use it sparingly at first because it's pretty strong (unless you're my husband, in which case you should use half the gravy boat's worth and then shrug and just pile more lamb onto the plate...) Total winner!
SoVery March 28, 2013
Can a 2 llb leg of lamb be used as substitute?
Kristen M. March 29, 2013
Yes, but it won't need nearly as long to cook, so just keep an eye on it!
MadameLaRue March 28, 2013
So to feed a larger crowd can I use a whole leg of lamb and follow this recipe?
Kristen M. March 29, 2013
I would just look for a bigger lamb shoulder, though this method should work well for the leg too.
mrslarkin March 27, 2013
Oh yum. Hello, Easter dinner. What are Brussels sprouts tops?
mrslarkin March 29, 2013
our meat department only has 12 pound shoulders. does that sound weird?
Kristen M. March 29, 2013
Great question! Check this out:
Kristen M. March 29, 2013
Sounds like a very big lamb to me -- the biggest I've seen recipes call for is 8 pounds. Could they trim it down for you?
mrslarkin March 30, 2013
Exactly...when husband called from the meat department to tell me, my thought was "that's one honkin' 'lamb' they got there." Ended up getting 2 small butterflied boneless legs, which I'll roast more traditionally.
mrslarkin March 30, 2013
way cool! I'll have to tell our farmer to keep the leaves on the stalks this season - they're usually stripped off!
ConniexCooks March 27, 2013
This is a fantastic recipe! The lamb literally melts. And so easy...the oven does everything!
EmilyC March 27, 2013
I love lamb shoulder but typically braise it. I'm anxious to try this roasting technique. The entire feast looks incredible -- especially that pan sauce, yum!
Fairmount_market March 27, 2013
Thanks so much. I have a lamb shoulder in the freezer that I was pondering how to cook and now I have my answer.
Kristen M. March 27, 2013
It's a good one!
Bevi March 27, 2013
I so love Jamie and the way he cooks-honestly, simply and always good.
Kristen M. March 27, 2013
I do too -- and this video might make us love him (and this recipe) even more: v