This is a great recipe for a May Day bank holiday meal. Perfect for outdoor entertaining, with an Italianesque vibe, but quite as happy coming indoors should it rain. Or snow, for that matter.

What with the recent obsession with all things pulled meat, you could be forgiven for assuming that lamb shoulder needs a lifetime in a slow oven to be edible but that is not the case. Best taken off the bone and rolled, as it can be tricky to carve, this also gives you an opportunity to intensify flavour with a stuffing. Not necessarily of the bread variety, but a vibrant blend of herbs and seasonings lends weight to our Italian theme.

Get the butcher to bone and roll it for you; you can then unravel, stuff, and roll it back up again. Don't forget to make sure you have string to hand. The cotton variety.

The lamb is cooked at a reasonable roasting temperature, but for somewhat longer and less accurately than a rare leg roast. The fat renders down to create deep savoury flavour and soft buttery meat. The stuffing is fresh with herbs, garlicky, lemony, and has an added savoury boost from olives and anchovies which essentially work as mega seasoning. I have used olives stuffed with anchovies to make life easier, but you can just use both; 3 parts olive to 1 part anchovies. For those who have an aversion to either, rest assured that you will not know they were ever there.

The meat is served with a simple layered bake of potatoes and young courgettes. Flavoured only with a splash of tinned tomato and seasoning, it makes an excellent accompaniment to the savoury lamb. A fresh salad of rocket leaves with a handful of crispy croutons completes the meal.

Servings err on the generous side with the meat, but will stretch to six if you bulk up on the sides or add bread.

Cooking Times

Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Cooking Time: 2 hours

Inactive Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours

Servings: 4

2 kg lamb shoulder, boned and rolled (1.3kg without bone)

For the stuffing

2 tbsp. fresh breadcrumbs

1 small bunch parsley

2 cloves garlic

85 g anchovy stuffed olives (or equivalent)

1 lemon, zest only

For the courgette and potato bake

4 courgettes, sliced

4 medium potatoes, sliced

2 tbsp. olive oil

200 g chopped tinned tomatoes

flaked sea salt

20 g parmesan, shaved

For the salad

1 bag rocket leaf

2 slices white bread, cut in 1cm cubes

2 tbsp. olive oil

2 cloves garlic, whole and unpeeled

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C
  2. Blitz the stuffing ingredients together in a food processor until they form a coarse paste.
  3. Unroll the lamb, spread the inner surface with the stuffing, and roll back up. Tie with string to secure once more.
  4. Place the meat in a deep roasting tray and season generously. Add a slick of olive oil and place in the centre of the hot oven.
  5. Gently fry the courgette slices, and the potato slices, separately. Drain on kitchen paper.
  6. In a medium sized ovenproof dish, layer the vegetables with a spoon of chopped tomatoes within each layer. Season and set aside.
  7. After one hour, check the surface of the meat. You may need to cover with foil at this stage to prevent further browning.
  8. Place the vegetable bake in the lower part of the oven and continue cooking, with the lamb, for an hour.
  9. After another hour, remove the meat from the oven and set aside to rest. Top the bake with parmesan and cook for a further 15 minutes so that the cheese can melt.
  10. Put the rocket in a salad bowl.
  11. Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the garlic cloves. When sizzling, add the bread cubes and fry until golden. Drain on kitchen paper, remove the garlic, and toss into the rocket.
  12. Carve the meat into thick slices and serve with the hot bake and salad.

Nutrition Facts

Nutrition (per serving): 1089 calories, 62.7g total fat, 22.3g saturated fat, 222.2mg cholesterol, 723.1mg sodium, 58.6g carbohydrates, 9.6g sugar, 9.1g fibre, 72.3g protein, 1279.1IU vitamin a, 198.2mcg vitamin b12, 24.8mg vitamin b6, 1383.7mg vitamin c, <1IU vitamin d, 9.7mg vitamin e, 3.6mcg vitamin k, 110.2mg calcium, 247.7mg iron, 862.6mg magnesium, 2520.3mg potassium, 189.7mg zinc.