Seven-Hour Lamb Roast with Garlic

sevenhl3pMy rudimentary photography equipment requires natural light, so, just like every year, I had waited for long months until days became long enough to feature on my blog also the dishes I eat exclusively for dinner. I was particularly impatient to write about this seven-hour lamb roast, one of the most exciting discoveries not only of the past winter, but of my long cooking experience. The arrival of spring means young lamb’s season and its particularly tender delicate meat made this dish unsurprisingly superior to all the previous winter versions I already considered extraordinary, so now I’m even more eager to share it with you.

I kept on reading about seven-hour lamb roast for many years, but somehow I was put off the long cooking process and the limitation to those weekend days when I was certain to stay at home. Meanwhile, I never managed to get my lamb roasts right: they ended up too dry and slightly tough at the same time. I don’t remember why, but one Sunday I simply decided to give the slow method a go. I added my usual lamb seasoning, briefly browned the meat and then put it into the oven for the whole day. The result went well beyond all my expectations: I had never tasted so amazingly tender lamb! Moreover, it’s so effortless… Now I cannot imagine roasting it in any other way. While I am still fond of briefly grilled rare cutlets, when it comes to roasts, the seven-hour lamb is the incontestable winner.

TIPS: You can use here any lamb cut, as long as it’s not too lean. My favourite are those with bones (shoulder or leg) which largely improve the flavours. Lamb is quite fatty, so I must admit I cut off most of the visible outer fat and, in spite of this, the result is juicy and tender.

Slowly cooked lamb “melts” much more than a quick roast, so you need to buy more meat. Moreover, if you buy meat with bone for the first time, it’s difficult to say how many portions you will obtain. It depends on the size of the bone (I often buy half a leg and if it’s the lower part, it often has more bone…), on the amount of fat, which will partly melt and partly be left aside (see above), on the side dishes (if you serve potatoes and not a salad, obviously you’ll eat much less…), on the starters… and most of all on your appetite! It’s always better to ask your butcher or even safer, to buy more and then reheat the rest another day (it’s delicious warmed and then eaten in a sandwich with chilli sauce/chilli jam – and pickles). 

I always roast lamb in a casserole (aka Dutch oven) which is also adapted to stovetop cooking, but if you don’t have it, brown the meat in a pan and then transfer to a baking dish with a lid.

Most people swear by cooking lamb with white wine, but I have noticed that both red and white wine are good, though I wouldn’t advise very tannic red wine with young lamb’s delicate meat. The wine has to be drinkable, not corked, etc., but keep a good bottle of wine to drink afterwards. (I only drink red wine with this hearty dish).

Make sure there is plenty of liquid in the casserole. The “sauce” shouldn’t be as thick as with a normal roast (in my opinion, it’s best very “thin”…).

This is a highly garlicky and fiery version, so if you are a moderate garlic eater and aren’t used to hot flavours, cut down on both.

Preparation: 7 hours

Ingredients (serves three – four, but the portions depend on many things, see the TIPS above):

1,3-1,4 kg (2.8-3 lbs) lamb shoulder or leg, both with bone (if you buy a cut without bones, 1 kg should be enough, but it depends on many things, see the TIPS above); if the cut is covered with a thick layer of fat, count even 1,5 kg or more

1-2 heads of garlic

a couple of dried red chillies, deseeded

2 glasses (2×100 ml) dry wine (white or red)

rosemary, thyme, powdered garlic, salt, powdered chilli

300 ml (about 10 oz) chicken/vegetable stock or water

I always start by cutting off a big part of the outer meat fat, but you can keep it of course.

Peel the garlic cloves. Take five cloves and cut them into 4-5 thin strips lengthwise. Leave the remaining cloves whole.

Make thin cuts in your roast (lengthwise) and stuff them with garlic strips (do this after each cut, so that you remember well where you did them).

Rub the meat with the spices and leave to reach room temperature.

Heat the oven to 120°C.

Heat the oil in the casserole you will use in the oven.

Brown briefly the meat on both sides at high heat (it’s mainly for aesthetic reasons… otherwise the meat will be greyish).

Pour the wine and quickly put the casserole aside.

Add more spices (I always add some more thyme, rosemary and chilli), some more salt and water or stock.

Throw the remaining garlic cloves into the casserole and the dried chillies.

Cover and leave in the oven for 7 hours.

Check every hour if there is still enough liquid.

After six hours, flip the meat over. Flip it back just before serving.

19 Replies to “Seven-Hour Lamb Roast with Garlic”

  1. Waiting to cook such a glorious sounding dish until you had perfect lighting conditions for your photography … that’s dedication. I wouldn’t be able to wait as I love lamb so much that a poor picture is a sacrifice I’d be willing to make. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, A_Boleyn. I meant I waited with photographs for so many months. My English is not what I would like it to be… (I have just tried to change the sentence a bit… I hope it’s better now). Frankly, I still consider this dish not photogenic at all, but I thought I couldn’t wait forever. It was really such a fantastic find!

      1. Thank you for clarifying. I thought you waited to COOK the dish, not just waited to take pictures. Since I actually cook a lot less often than people might think, it would take me at least a year, if not longer, to get around to making the dish a second time. I can’t wait that long to get a recipe posted. 🙂

        1. In my case there was no problem because since I tasted this lamb for the first time I have been regularly craving it 😉 so I cooked it regularly. It’s now one of my staple weekend dinners.

  2. What’s a “moderate” garlic eater? You mean there are people that wouldn’t want 2 heads of garlic in a dish? :). Well, I’m not one of them. WOW! What a fabulous lamb dish! I make a slow cooked chicken with 40 cloves of garlic and we LOVE it; therefor, I know this is one that we’ll love as well because we also love lamb. I’ve never slow cooked lamb like this but I certainly can imagine how juicy tender it would be. I’m pinning this and if this cold snap holds on for a few more days I’ll make it. Otherwise, I’ll have to wait until the fall as I don’t run my oven in the summer. Btw, your photo is beautiful but then your photos are always beautiful! I personally think natural light of the best and certainly the easiest. . Love this post and recipe!

    1. Hi, MJ. Thank you so much for the compliments. You are so kind… I had a horrible time wondering how to make this dish look edible 😉
      I know you are my soulmate also in everything that concerns garlic 😉 Slow-cooked chicken (moreover with 40 garlic cloves) is something I really need to try one day… thank you for the tip! I had always loved pink rare lamb cutlets, but often, when tasting lamb roast (or when preparing it myself) I felt the texture was too tough… and I have never been a fan of pink roast because the meat is often not delicate enough. Now I have found the remedy 😉
      I’m sure you can cook it on the stovetop (or in the slow cooker which is so popular in the US, I think). No need to use the oven! For me it’s just easier and I don’t need to put the noisy fan on…

  3. Hi Sissi! I’m back! I missed your blog1
    This dish looks so pretty! Nice presentation and photograph. I don’t usually cook with lamb because we don’t have good selection here.

    Thank you for your kind comment on my blog. You’re so sweet!

  4. The spring light totally shows in the photo and very inviting! What a gorgeous photo of lamb! I haven’t heard of 7-hour lamb until you introduced, so I’m very glad to learn something new! It must be so good… especially with all the garlic. I love it!

    1. Thank you so much, Nami. I know my photos are far from being perfect… but then I don’t invest much time or money in them… so I’m the only one to blame. You are very kind!
      If you stay at home one day during the weekend, it’s a perfect lazy dish.

  5. I like lamb, but rarely cook it…the sound and the look of this seven hours lamb is just amazing…I like all the herbs and yes to lots of garlic…awesome recipe Sissi.
    Have a wonderful week 🙂

  6. I always cook my meats in the oven for many hours. Low heat and let it stay there for hours. In Milos which is a Greek island they put the lamb in a clay pot and bury it under the sand. The temperature because of the sun is always around 100C. They leave it there to cook for 10 to 12 hours. You cannot believe how delicious it is! I am sure your lamb is equally tasty!

    1. Thank you so much, Katerina. I am hungry reading about the Milos method… I’m sure their lamb is extraordinary.

  7. I’ve only recently started enjoying lamb and it was because of a recipe I had to test. My recipe had red wine and we braised four shanks using San Marzano tomatoes and it was exquisite! I prefer using Canadian lamb as it doesn’t have the gamey flavour and smell that New Zealand lamb has (the only two types of lamb that we get here).

    1. Hi Eva. Usually the “gamey” flavours come with age, so maybe your Canadian lamb is simply younger? The most delicate flavours are found in milk-fed lamb which is now in season here and which we have already enjoyed in this slow-cooked version twice this spring 🙂

  8. I have been planning to make or try this long slow roast lamb for a very long time. I guess its best to have this for dinner. For lunch you will need to start preparations around 5 in the morning:)

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