Spring has finally arrived in my part of the world, blowing in on the heels of April’s last blustery gusts, and everything is responding favourably to its sudden and unseasonable warmth with bare limbs blatantly exposed, long fervent conversations had and mornings whiled away in the sunlight.
I’ll spare you the full April post – wittering on about icy winds and bleak outlooks and the sound of a train in the distance – that was left on the cutting room floor, but I will tell you that no one unlucky enough to have been in my vicinity these past few months was sorry to see the winter finally draw to a close.
The change has been so welcome, and yet so sudden – it feels a little like May, with all of its attendant goodness, arrived late last week with a vengeance:
Last weekend, our park exploded with cherry blossoms, and I couldn’t get over the paradox: that those stunning, ethereal blooms, all sweetness and light, can bring out the some of the ugliest and hungriest parts of people. Even after an early morning of dodging couples in formalwear, crying children, men with long lenses, mountains of garbage, and raging, impatient motorists, though, I came home raving not about the hideousness of humanity, but the beauty of the blossoms.
That colour, that smell.
I dragged the whole family back to the park almost in spite of myself.
Two of my dearest friends have birthdays this week, and we are expecting an honoured guest in our house, so I have stocked the cupboards with wine and other celebratory goodies in anticipation. Sunday is the Junction Flea, possibly the best mother’s day gift a person like me could hope for.
I don’t even care that they are forecasting unseasonable cold, because I have had this dish in my pocket for months, waiting for just such an occasion to share it with you.
Happy weekend, friends! Happy spring!
Lamb Shoulder Roast for Any Occasion
When I say any occasion, I mean any time, any season. I first made this last July, for a friend’s birthday celebration at my house. I made it again when my sister and her family visited in August, then in October for my birthday feast (the one that included a version of this dish). I made it once over the winter holidays and again just a few weeks ago for Easter. It’s always that good. And the leftovers make an incredible hash. It’s an overnighter, but you still have time to make it for mother’s day, and I can’t overstate how easily made and rewarding a dish this is. Run to your butcher right now!
1 2.5-3 kg lamb shoulder roast, bone in and tied, with some fat on it
3 tbsp coarse sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
10 cloves garlic, chopped
6 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1/2c olive oil
1/2c fresh squeezed lemon juice
Lightly score lamb fat at 1″ intervals and place in a roasting pan with a tightly fitting lid – the pan should be just large enough to hold the lamb comfortably. Rub lamb all over with salt and pepper, then garlic and rosemary. Finally, drizzle over the olive oil and lemon juice and massage everything gently into the lamb. Cover pan tightly with foil, then its lid, and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Roast lamb, basting occasionally (rewrap the pan very tightly with foil after each basting), until meat is very tender and beginning to fall offf the bone, about 4 hours.
Remove pan from oven, remove lid and foil, and hoist the roast onto a large platter to rest. Preheat broiler. Decant lamb juices into a jug. Remove string from lamb and transfer it back into the roasting pan. Broil for about 5 minutes, until fatty bits are crackling and golden.
Return lamb to platter; skim fat from the surface if the jus in the jug. Serve immediately, scattered with lemon pieces and rosemary sprigs.
Serves 6, with plenty of leftovers.