The perfect hands-off dish for a special occasion

Braised lamb shoulder

PREP TIME: 10 mins
COOKING TIME: 4 hrs hands-off slow-cooking
IDEAL FOR: crowd-pleaser, family, Sunday lunch, special occasion

We don’t have lamb every week.

It’s usually kept for a special occasion such as … drum roll

Toby’s 18th birthday!!

Which is a big one.

AND he (finally) passed his theory driving test.

We’re all one step closer to freedom. lol

So, he is now on his way to adulthood.

No longer a teen, he is now officially a young adult.

And although a lot of the synapse pruning and development has been undertaken – man, that was painful.

I was recently told it’s approx. 25 yrs old when their brain actually forms.


The front part of the brain (prefrontal cortex) is responsible for skills like planning, prioritising, and controlling impulses.

And one of the last brain regions to mature.

Oh, dear. Just when you think you’ve come out of the woods.

But, of course, I’m joking.

All and all, we’ve been pretty lucky (touch wood) with the boys.

So, let’s stay focused on the joy of this milestone, 18.

And what a lovely young man he’s growing into.

Oh, and this amazing slow-cooked lamb we’re having.

Slow-cooked braised lamb shoulder

Let’s be honest, it’s not hard this dish.

This is why I chose it for our afternoon of celebration.

I don’t want to be away from all the fun around the table.

And a slow-cook braised lamb is a delight.

Because it is hands-off (no. 1).

And because of the slow cooking, this allows the connective tissue of this tough cut to break down until it’s full of flavour and beautifully tender.

Braised lamb shoulder with green sauce

Learn the basics of braising

It’s not a complicated process.

But it’s good to know the basics of how to master braising.

So, you can transform the toughest cut of meat into a tender, succulent dish with your own flavour inventions.

What is braising?

Braising is just cooking a tough cut of meat gently and slowly in liquid until it’s tender, moist and falls off the bone.

And because it’s low-and-slow cooking, it’s hands-off.

Some of my favourite cuts to braise are beef short ribs and chuck, pork shoulder and lamb shoulder and shanks, and chicken thighs and legs.

So, here are a few steps to follow for braising any of these cuts of meat.

1. Browning the meat

Browning or searing the meat first is key to successful braising.

And don’t rush.

Patience is needed.

Especially if you’re doing short beef ribs as you may need to do them in batches to avoid over-crowding.

Browning your meat will add flavour to the dish.

Plus, there is no need to switch dishes.

In fact, I would frown upon browning your meat then transferring it to another dish.

This is a one-pan exercise.

And those brown bits stuck to the bottom of your pan.

That’s flavour!


Step 1: Use a heavy pot on your hob and add your well-seasoned meat to it with a little oil.

Then brown the meat on every side with a lovely deep golden brown colour.

Step 2: Remove the meat and set it aside so you can get on with the base flavours.

Base flavours

This part is building on flavours.

So, in the same casserole dish with the bits of brown stuck to the bottom, you now add veggies, hardy herbs (rosemary, thyme etc), spices or any flavours you want to play with.

But you should always go for the foundation veggies (mirepoix) such as:

  • Onions, leeks or shallots
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Garlic

Add in your mirepoix (the first 3 above), and garlic (add a little more oil if needed).

Then any herbs or spices.

And cook for a few minutes until the veggies soften a little and the herbs/spices become fragrant.

Now it’s onto the braising liquid.

Braising liquid

This is how we get the brown bits off the bottom of your casserole dish aka deglazing.

Which add great flavour to your dish.

So, with a wooden spoon in hand, poor in any liquid such as wine, stock, beer, even water.

And start scraping those lovely brown bits off the bottom of the dish to mix in with the liquid and veggies,

Now, place your seared meat back in the pan.

Then add enough other liquid (again, wine, stock, beer, water) so that the meat is partially, but not fully, submerged.

How much liquid you add depends on how you want to serve it—add more if you want a more liquid stewy dish.

Or less if you want a more concentrated sauce.

Et voila! Hands-off

You’ve done the ‘hard part’.

Now, cover the pot with a tightly-fitting lid and cook it in the oven at a low temperature usually around 140C.

You can also cook it on the hob over the lowest possible heat.

How long it will take depends on what you’re braising.

  • chicken thighs = approx. 45 mins
  • whole pork shoulder = hours

Ultimately, the meat will tell you i.e. it’s done when it’s tender and ready to fall apart.

The final sauce

Use your braising liquid, don’t throw it away.

So, you have a choice of reducing it to intensify the braising liquids flavour.

Or just leave it as a stew and season it with salt and pepper.

To reduce the liquid, first, remove the meat to a tray, cover it and let it rest.

Then turn the braising liquid to a good simmer and let it reduce to a thickness that coats the back of a spoon.

Check the seasoning and serve.

(you can strain the sauce if you want a more silky textured sauce)

Braised lamb shoulder

I like to serve a braised dish with greens to cut through its richness.

And instead of potatoes, I often serve with beans, like haricot or flageolet.

Which absorb the lovely rich flavours of the braising sauce.

So, this means, we have room for the 2 puddings we made to celebrate Toby’s 18th.

… I think we will be eating soup for a few days after this feast!

P.S. Try Jamie Oliver’s Green Sauce with it, it looks and tastes fab with the lamb.

Check out his recipe below…

Braised lamb shoulder

Course Main Course
Keyword braised lamd, butterflied greek-style lamb, family meals, lamb shoulder, one pot meal, sunday lunch
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 10 minutes
Servings 6 people
Cost £-££


  • 2 kg lamb shoulder
  • vegetable oil
  • 1 stick of clelery, roughly chopped
  • 2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • 2 carrots chopped into large pieces
  • 3 sprigs of roasemery
  • salt and pepper for seasoning

Jamie Oliver's green sauce (optional)

  • 1 tbsp (heaped tbsp) shelled unsalted pistachios
  • 1 tbsp (heaped tbsp) mixed-colour olives
  • 1 tbsp (heaped tbsp) baby capers in brine
  • 1 tbsp (heaped tbsp) baby cornichons
  • 4 anchovy fillets in oil, from sustainable sources
  • 2 tsp English mustard
  • 1 bunch of mint
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • red wine vinegar
  • extra virgin oil



  • Preheat the oven to 160°C.
    Heat the oil in a large, deep roasting pan or a large casserole dish and brown the lamb until brown all over. Be patient.
  • Remove the lamb from the pan and set it aside.
    Now, in the same casserole dish, add the onions, carrots, celery and soften them for a few minutes. Next add in the garlic, rosemary, wine and a little salt and pepper.
  • Cover with a lid or cover the whole pan with foil Roast the lamb for 3 – 4 hrs until the meat is tender and starting to fall off the bone.
  • **About an hour before serving, remove the pan from the oven and skim off any excess fat. Check the seasoning of the braising liquid and season with salt and pepper.
    Now, add the beans to the pan, replace the lid or foil, and cook for the last hour. (Add a little stock or water if it seems dry).
  • When ready, check the seasoning, add the parsley and serve

Green sauce

  • While the lamb is cooking make the green sauce.
    Finely chop the pistachios, and add the olives, capers and cornichons.
    Add the anchovies and English mustard, and the leaves from the mint and parsley.
    Now, chop everything until fine, mixing as you go.
    Scrape into a serving bowl, add 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and just enough boiling kettle water to loosen, mix well, then season with black pepper.
    Serve by pouring over the top of the lamb once you place it in the middle of the table.


Bon Appetit

Great British Chefs