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Slow roasted spiced lamb from the Shelford Delicatessen outside Cambridge, England.

Based on the unscientific and unreliable sample of two recipes from The Cambridgeshire Cook Book, slowly cooked lamb shoulder is a dish of choice in the ancient university town. This recipe shares coriander and cumin with one from the estimable Pint Shop in central Cambridge, testimony to the compatibility of the spices with lamb. The Shelford deli adds allspice instead of the Pint Shop’s nutmeg (or our mace) to the mix, an artful variation. Four generous servings.


  • about 3 lb lamb shoulder on the bone
  • 6 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Sheep-facing-right.png½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 bay leaves
  • 4 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • an onion cut into 6 crescents
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed and split
  • ½ bottle decent white wine
  • scant cup Manzanilla or Amontillado Sherry
  • 1 lb coarsely chopped spinach
  • extra virgin olive oil for service

Preheat the oven to 275°.

  1. Set an ovenproof pot over high heat. Once it is hot, add the olive oil and brown the lamb on all sides.
  2. Mix together the allspice, coriander, cumin, pepper and salt while the lamb cools, then rub the mixture into the shoulder.
  3. Return the seasoned meat to the pot with everything but the Sherry and spinach.
  4. Cover the pot and bake the dish until the meat falls apart at the slightest touch, usually in about 6 hours.
  5. Pour the juices into a pot and cover the lamb.
  6. Skim the fat from the juices, add the Sherry and reduce the volume by two-thirds, or “until glossy and a little sticky.”
  7. Remove the bones from the lamb and break it up.
  8. Wilt the spinach quickly in the reduction and season the mix with generous doses of salt and pepper.
  9. Add the lamb to the spinach reduction.
  10. To finish the dish, add a drizzle of olive oil to each portion.


-The dish works well with boiled or mashed potatoes, or just hunks of good bread.

-The seasoning specified by Shelford actually is a little timid to our taste; we suggest increasing the amounts of allspice, cumin and coriander by half.

-The Shelford recipe also calls for whole allspice berries (“5”), whole seeds of coriander and cumin, and 25 black peppercorns, but you cannot really rub any of those things into the meat and they could cause significant dental distress.