- Serves: 4-6
- Cook Time: 3 hours 10 minutes
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Effort: medium
For the lamb
- 1 lamb shoulder, bone removed and excess fat trimmed off
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 glass Italian white wine
- 2-3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 cloves garlic, left whole
- 2 heads fennel, cut in quarters
- 250 g fresh peas, podded
- 8 spring carrots, tailed and topped
For the polenta
- 250 g bramata - slow cook polenta, not instant
- 75 g butter
- 50 g freshly grated parmesan
Tips and Suggestions
Tough cuts of meat benefit from slow cooking to tenderise them. Its a simple way to create an impressive dish with minimum effort but maximum flavour.
The traditional Italian method for cooking polenta is to whisk or stir it into boiling liquid, followed by about an hour of stirring and simmering. Polenta spits, and burns when it sticks. If you have the time it is easier and also safer to mix it with cold liquid, stir it often as it heats to boiling, then simmer until the starchiness is replaced by a mellow taste. A whisk works best to remove any lumps.
1. For the lamb: preheat the oven to 160C/fan 140C/gas 3. Lay the lamb on a chopping board, then roll it up and tie with butchers string quite tightly. Season the outside of the lamb well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
2. Heat a large heavy-based ovenproof saucepan, pour in the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and when its really hot, put the meat in the pan and fry to seal it so its browned all over. Remove the meat from the pan and pour off any excess fat. Deglaze the pan with the white wine stand well back in case it flames and let it bubble for a few seconds. Stir in the balsamic, bay leaves and garlic.
3. Return the lamb to the pan and cover loosely with tin foil. Bake in the oven for 1 hour, then lower the temperature to 140C/fan 120C/gas 1. Remove the pan from the oven and tip in the vegetables. Cover and seal well with foil to keep the moisture in, then return to the oven for 2 more hours, basting the meat occasionally during the cooking.
4. For the polenta: about 40 minutes before the lamb is done, make the polenta according to the packet instructions, adding it in a very fine stream to 1 litre salted, simmering water, remembering to stir. After 30-40 minutes of frequent stirring, the polenta should be like a thick, smooth porridge. Season with salt and pepper, stir in the butter and parmesan, taste and adjust if needed.
5. Thickly slice the lamb and serve it on the polenta with the vegetables and sauce spooned over.
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