Skip to content

Recipe: Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder with Harissa and Garlic

Roasting the meat low and slow is the secret to any hearty lamb dish

Bookmark article to read later

By House & Garden South Africa | December 8, 2023 | Recipes

We live in a (cooking) society where everyone is trying to get maximum flavour with minimum effort thanks to weird food hacks, funky gadgets, and tricks. But there is something to be said about cooking a dish extremely low and slow that is almost primitive, yet romantic. For this slow roasted lamb shoulder, you can expect the meat to fall of the bone in an instant and flavourful spices mingle in a hearty lamb stock. This is definitely a great Christmas main if you don’t want to serve the usual poultry dishes.

Here’s how to make it:


1 shoulder of lamb on the bone (approx. 2.5 kg)

6 rosemary stalks

8 sprigs of thyme

3 - 4 bay leaves

2 whole heads of garlic cut horizontally

2 small red onions cut into wedges

2 Tbs Olive oil

2 Tbsp harissa paste

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp smoked paprika

250ml lamb stock (made from 1 cube)

Salt and pepper

Cooking method

Preheat the oven to 250°C/480F. Place most of the rosemary (reserve a couple of sprigs), thyme, bay leaves, 3 of the garlic head halves and the red onion in the bottom of a high sided roasting dish or dutch oven. Drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Place the lamb on top of the vegetables and herbs. Prepare the lamb by slashing through any fat if there is, but not penetrating the meat.

Smear the harissa paste over the meat and sprinkle over the cumin and smoked paprika, season with salt and pepper.

Break up the remaining half head of garlic and bruise the cloves. Place them on top of the meat along with the remaining sprigs of rosemary. Tightly seal the whole tray with heavy-duty aluminium foil ensuring it is completely sealed. Place in the hot oven and cook for 10 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 180°C and leave it to roast for 4 hours. Do not open and check the meat. Just leave it.

After 4 hours take out the oven and remove the lamb and set it aside covered in the foil for about 10 - 15 minutes.

Strain the pan juice and the roast garlic and herbs through a fine sieve into a wide vessel. Press down to release as much liquid as possible.

Allow the fat and juices to settle/ separate into distinct layers.

Either use a fat separator to skim the fat off the top. Alternatively, lay a sheet of paper towel over the top surface and lift it off with the fat. Repeat this another 4 - 5 more times until no more fat comes off and the towel starts soaking the pan juices.

Carve the meat, it falls off the bone. Shred the meat into large chunks. Reheat the pan juices in a microwave or on the stove top and pour this over the meat.

Serve it with home-made or store bought flatbread or pita with Tzatziki. Side dishes that would pair well include herby couscous with griddled seared zucchini, and a tomato and cucumber salad.