Recipe: Seven-Hour "Spoon" Lamb

More

This is my revisionist version of Paula Wolfert's famous spoon lamb recipe. The original was too labor-intensive for my lazy bones and called for pricey dessert wine, whose flavor I successfully duplicate, for cooking purposes, with white wine, wildflower honey and orange zest. The dish takes one half hour max to put together, then cooks unattended for, truly, seven hours, until it is tender enough to eat with a spoon. It's the perfect no fuss, make-ahead dinner party dish that elicits both sighs and raves. It would make a great alt-Thanksgiving dinner.

This dish yields over 3 cups of rich juices, a kind of concentrated lamb consomme that is a treasure; heat some in a small saucepan and float raviolis or tortellinis in it, for a divine supper. Use it to reheat shredded leftover lamb in the days to follow to forge quick meals: spoon it over crushed new potatoes, use it as a taco filling or toss with cooked pasta, along with some grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino.

Serves 6 to 8 with leftovers

    • One 5 to 6 pound leg of lamb tied (have the butcher trim off the shank bone trimmed) OR a boneless lamb shoulder, about 5 pounds, tied into a compact bundle
    • 5 heads garlic
    • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1/4 cup Cognac or Armagnac
    • 1/3 cup dry white wine
    • 2 tablespoons wildflower honey
    • 1 or 2 strips orange zest
    • 2 to 3 sprigs fresh thyme

A few hours before cooking the lamb, rub it with the Kosher salt. Place on a platter uncovered in the fridge to marinate. Meanwhile, break apart and separate the cloves, pulling off any extraneous papery skin; don't peel unless you want to.

Heat the oil in a large heavy flameproof casserole (enamel on cast-iron is perfect), over moderate heat. Pat the lamb dry and brown to golden, about 5 minutes per side, 20 minutes total. Pour off fat and add the Cognac. Tilt the pan to ignite, taking care to stand back. When the flames have died out, add the white wine, honey, orange zest, thyme and the garlic cloves. Cover with a sheet of foil and press the lid down to seal. Roast in a preheated 200' oven, until the lamb is fork tender, about 7 hours, turning the lamb once halfway through.

Transfer the lamb to a platter and cover with the foil. Pour the juices into a cup and skim off the fat. To give the juices a more concentrated flavor, pour into a heavy saucepan and simmer until reduced by about one quarter, or the flavor is right. Pull the meat apart or slice it against the grain and arrange on a platter. Pour some of the juices over and pass the rest.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Sally Schneider writes The Improvised Life, a lifestyle blog about improvising as a daily practice. Her cookbook The Improvisational Cook is now out in paperback. More

Sally Schneider is the founder of The Improvised Life, a lifestyle blog that inspires you to devise, invent, create, make it up as you go along, from design and cooking to cultivating the creative spirit. It's been called a "zeitgeist-perfect website." She is a regular contributor to public radio's The Splendid Table and the author of the best-selling cookbooks The Improvisational Cook and A New Way to Cook, which was recently named one of the best books of the decade by The Guardian. She has won numerous awards, including four James Beard awards, for her books and magazine writing.

Sally has worked as a journalist, editor, stylist, lecturer, restaurant chef, teacher, and small-space consultant, and once wrangled 600 live snails for the photographer Irving Penn. Her varied work has been the laboratory for the themes she writes and lectures about: improvising as an essential operating principle; cultivating resourcefulness and your inner artist; design, style, and food; and anything that is cost-effective, resourceful, and outside the box.
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

What Do You See When You Look in the Mirror?

In a series of candid video interviews, women talk about self-image, self-judgment, and what it means to love their bodies


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Health

From This Author

Just In