Slow roasted lamb shoulder with anchovy and garlic.
Slow roasted lamb shoulder with anchovy and garlic.
Image: Supplied

My dear friend Fritzy has asked me a few times, when I’ll write about this dish. We’re a big fan of the underserved cuts of meat. Great on a plate and even better on the budget. Anyone say inflation and rising food costs?

Being born in the Eastern Cape, meat definitely features front and centre of many of my memories growing up.

Inyama, is ever present. My Pedi father often teases my old sister and many of my other Xhosa relatives, saying “nithanda inyama” whenever dishing up is involved or ordering in a restaurant. Not that he is not one of the first reaching for a lamb chop. Meat is a main dish, as well as a side dish and really, I swear, another piece of meat is often considered dessert in and of itself. December is on us and even if there is no umgidi (celebration  of boys coming back from the bush) in the family, I know we Eastern Capers, at home in the EC or wherever we congregate over the holiday, round the clock meat platters will abound.

Anything traditional says slaughter and in my part of the Eastern Cape there is a fondness for lamb. My father also seems to have a penchant for baa baa. My paternal grandmother was a super fussy eater, she ate no red meat, except for lamb. What a protein lamb is, it even warrants its own classification, according to my grandmother.

My Xhosa and coloured relatives can all attest to a roasted leg of lamb being a key dish on the Sunday lunch table, right next to that curried spaghetti. Ooh the memories invoked just mentioning those two dishes. Lamb is super nostalgic, it reminds me of my mother putting lamb in the oven before church to roast away while she prayed and launched her latest looks in the pews of the local catholic church, with us bleary eyed in tow. The promise of lamb kept me going through many a mass.

Now, here I am, roasting lamb too. Seldom before mass, myself, but I do prep it the night before and put it in the oven in the morning before going back to bed to read or indulge in my other morning rituals. It needn’t be rushed, this dish is a slow roast. It’s so worth it though.

As I’ve made my way down the many paths that are my taste adventures, I’ve loved learning about different cuts of meat that are often overlooked. Cuts of meat are not really my forte, I must admit, and boy have I  now learnt my flank from my skirt, as it were. Funny thing, I eat meat about three to four times a year. That’s like once a quarter, but I listen to my body and give it what it needs. And when it craves lamb, I give it the shoulder, this one in particular. Roast shoulder of lamb.

Get the butcher to debone a lamb shoulder for you. Ditch the leg for a little bit

Please try this if you’re a meat eater. Like most things I like to cook, it’s simple and has a few ingredients, but the flavour! Lamb is a flavoursome meat on its own, but why not help it reach its true potential with some anchovy, garlic and, of course, lemon and cumin.

I tried this dish a few years ago and it’s become a staple. It’s also next-level, fuss-free cooking. Prep, then refrigerate overnight, take it out, slow roast and serve with a delicious, simple salad. My friend Fritz is a super fan, my sister just says, “hmmm la-lamb”, when she speaks of it, my nephews make it disappear as does my darling friend who’s not a big eater, remember him? He did to this lamb what he did to the roast chicken, kept tucking in. He’s fast becoming my barometer of the dishes I should keep in rotation.

So, we have time as holidays approach. Get the butcher to debone a lamb shoulder for you. Ditch the leg for a little bit. I like that this is a flat roast and it’s so much easier to check that it’s cooked through. Also makes serving it look restaurant quality.

As we hopefully release the pressure and slow down a little as the year winds down, slow down and slow roast this lamb. Maybe sit in the kitchen and enjoy a yummy breakfast with your family while you salivate over the smells of lamb roasting in the oven.

It takes about four hours in the oven, which may give us all a little anxiety when thinking about load-shedding.


  1. 1kg deboned lamb shoulder (ask your butcher to recommend amount for number of people)
  2. 4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  3. 2-3 anchovies, sliced into small pieces
  4. 2 sprigs fresh oregano
  5. 1 bay leaf
  6. 3 celery stalks, finely chopped
  7. 1 x teaspoon cumin
  8. 1 squeeze of ¼ lemon
  9. 2 teaspoons salt
  10. Good grind of black pepper
  11. 1 good knob of butter
  12. 1 teaspoon of cumin


  1. Get a large, ovenproof dish out, place the bay leaf at the bottom.
  2. Lay the lamb shoulder flat into the dish, the make little slots across the front of the piece of meat with a sharp knife.
  3. Roll a piece of garlic in a little bit of anchovy and oregano and stuff each little flavour roil into a hole (hardest work you have to do in making this).
  4. Then sprinkle the cumin, a generous amount of salt and pepper, squeeze of lemon and rub in into the meat.
  5. Then rub a good knob of butter over the top.
  6. Seal with foil and allow the flavours to meng (mix) overnight.
  7. Preheat the oven to 160ºC.
  8. Take the dish out the fridge at least one hour before placing in the oven.
  9. Leaving the foil on, place it into the heated oven and set your timer for four hours
  10. At hour four behold the lamb and remove foil and the top of the lamb to crisp up for about 20-30 minutes.
  11. Take it out of the oven and let the meat rest for about 15 minutes before squeezing a little more lemon over the top, carving and serving.

I like to chop up a little mint, scatter some pomegranate seeds and another scatter of Maldon salt when serving.

© Wanted 2024 - If you would like to reproduce this article please email us.