Moroccan Braised Lamb Shoulder

From Gail Norton

2015 Jan/Feb

This is an incredibly delicious dish that produces fall-off-the-bone-tender lamb and an irresistible sauce to pour over mashed potatoes or couscous. The ras el hanout is a Moroccan spice blend. It’s worth seeking out, but you can replace it with curry powder. I have made this recipe with an elk leg with great results. It’s a wonderful winter dish.


  • 4 T. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 1 T. coriander seeds
  • 1 T. cumin seeds
  • a few sprigs of parsley
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 garlic cloves, whole
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 4 pods cardamom
  • 2 T. ras el hanout or curry powder
  • 2 t. kosher salt
  • 2 t. ground pepper
  • 4 lb. lamb shoulder, boned
  • 3 c. white or rosé wine
  • 1 c. stock


Preheat oven to 250°F.

Add the 4 T. olive oil to a Dutch oven that’s large enough to hold all the ingredients, heat it to quite hot, and add the onions, carrots and celery and cook until their water is released. Turn down the heat and let the onions get soft and transparent. Put the coriander seeds and cumin seeds in a dry frying pan over high heat. Toss the spice mixture until it starts to release an aroma, then take it off the heat. Put it in a mortar and pestle and pound it to release its flavour. Add the spices to the onions with all the remaining ingredients. Add the lamb shoulder and the wine and stock; add more liquid as required to cover the meat with liquid. Cover the pan and put it in the oven for 10 hours. No peeking! Remove it from the oven, let it cool slightly, then put it in the fridge to cool for several hours or overnight.

Remove the layer of fat from the top. Remove the meat from the dish and strain the sauce into a saucepan, reducing it over medium heat until thick and flavourful. While the sauce is reducing, shred the lamb and place in an ovenproof bowl. Heat it through in a warm oven, adding just enough of the sauce to moisten the lamb. Put the remaining sauce in a container to pour over the mashed potatoes, polenta, or couscous – whatever sauce vessel you prefer!
Serves 6 to 8