Baah, it’s a bargain

Just over a tenner spent on a shoulder of lamb will give you a delicious roast dinner as well as a tasty salad the next day

Sat, Nov 2, 2013, 01:00

Lambatarians – look away now. Because today I’m going to dwell on the sheer deliciousness and versatility of lamb, in this case, a particular cut: the economic and oh-so-flavoursome shoulder.

So if you, or anyone in your household, happens to be a lambatarian (I’ve a teenage one at home), who goes gooey at the sight of fluffy lambs a-leaping and couldn’t imagine them making the leap onto your plate, then read no further.

Ever seen those survive-in-the-wild TV programmes where celebs are made to eat everything from alligator eyeballs to wiggling grubs as fat as thumbs? Well, there’s a reason why, when they’re asked what it tastes like, the answer is usually chicken, instead of lamb.

Lamb has a sweet, earthy, slightly gamey flavour that makes it distinctive enough to be an acquired taste, but it’s also precisely why people who do eat it love it so much; you simply can’t mistake it for anything else, and often, nothing else will do.

And probably because I don’t eat meat often – I regard it as a bit of a luxury – I am one of those for whom lamb regularly trumps other types of meat. More expensive cuts such as leg are lovely, of course, but the shoulder wins in terms of flavour and value.

Long, slow cooking at a low to medium heat, with the meat well wrapped in a cocoon of foil, helps the connective tissue to break down and also to retain those meaty juices within the flesh as it comes away from the bone. And for a shade over €10, a shoulder is about as economical as it gets, yielding enough meat for two meals for four to six people.

The trick is in the planning. A roast shoulder on a Sunday, served with gravy and roast spuds, will usually mean enough leftovers for the next day. Perfect for scavenging children just home from school and pleading for food, or for those who prefer to bring lunch into work rather than buy another over-priced, underwhelming sambo.

The roasted joint was delicious on its own, but it also produced enough meat for this toothsome, crunchy salad. But a salad is just one option. Try a lamb wrap with tzatziki, lettuce and harissa, or flake it over toasted sourdough with mayo, chipotle paste, sliced tomato and coriander. The variations are endless.

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