A Sublime Rolled Roast Shoulder of Lamb & Potatoes

A Sublime Rolled Roast Shoulder of Lamb & Potatoes | Selma's TableA Roast Chicken and Other Stories by Simon Hopkinson is a cookbook which took my cooking and palate to another level in the mid ’90’s. A grown up’s cookbook and later voted The Most Useful Cookbook’ in 2005, chef and writer, Simon Hopkinson makes absolutely no compromises when it comes to technique or quality of ingredients and is very no-nonsense in his classic approach to cooking which is unpretentious and full of flavour. He has headed the kitchens at Hilaire (where I was fortunate enough to have dined when he was cooking) and then Bibendum; has written a food column for the Independent and also made some wonderful TV programmes; some of which are still available on the 4OD catch up service if you are in the UK. It was he who introduced me to cooking a roast chicken at a very high temperature for the first 15 minutes to tighten skin and start rendering the fat, before lowering it for the rest of the roasting time. It was also he who introduced me to the the flavour sensation that is anchovy, rosemary, garlic stuffed into slits made into a leg of lamb – that first mouthful was unforgettable – the anchovy had broken down and mellowed into an intense savouriness while the garlic and rosemary had perfumed the lamb. I rarely cook a leg of lamb any other way.

10 years later, I am watching Jamie Oliver roast a leg of lamb directly on the oven rack with a roasting tin full of potatoes underneath to catch all the fat and juices. Both he and Nigella Lawson send my kitchen OCD tendencies completely into overdrive – they are both so MESSY but perhaps I would be too if I had a brigade of assistants to wipe down every jar, utensil, surface and handle I touch. I digress. I was very taken with the idea of the potatoes roasting under the lamb, cooking in the lamb fat and absorbing all the lamby juices but there was absolutely no way that I was going to put myself through cleaning the oven afterwards.

One Sunday, few weeks later and in a hurry, I bought some lamb and potatoes, thinking I would do my usual but got home to find that I had bought a boned and rolled shoulder of lamb. I thought of Jamie Oliver’s roasting method and remembered that I had a wire rack which had feet – it could sit in a roasting tin, a few inches above the base.  So I improvised on my “usual” by making a paste out of the anchovy/rosemary/garlic trinity and added a spoonful of mustard. I unrolled the lamb and smeared it with the paste, re-rolled it using the stretchy butchers string that it came rolled in and set it on that wire rack, over a few peeled potatoes, to roast. Best. Meal. Ever.

Intensely savoury and juicy meat; potatoes which were crisp on the bottom and full of the flavours of lamb – eaten alongside some plain green beans and washed down with a glass or two of a smooth red – it really was sublime. It is not a dish I make often though – this really is a treat to have once in a while, after a long brisk walk or perhaps for a special occasion when dietary concerns can be put aside…

A Sublime Rolled Roast Shoulder of Lamb & Potatoes | Selma's Table

Roasted and ready to rest

This time round I included thyme leaves and a little harissa too – it was wonderful. Of course, you can leave out the harissa if you wish or substitute chill flakes and paprika but please do try it with the anchovy – the heat of the oven changes the flavour completely with no fishy taste, just a lot of big savoury flavour. And do remove the lamb from the fridge for at least an hour beforehand, to get the meat up to room temperature. It will cook more evenly this way.

A Sublime Rolled Roast Shoulder of Lamb & Potatoes | Selma's Table

Today, Elaine the inspirational blogger behind Foodbod and I are once again co-hosting Fiesta Friday #36 which is held by the generous, creative and wonderful Angie @ The Novice Gardener. Do take a look at Angie’s latest post – I mean, who else can take a draft post and some left over mole and come up with this mouthwatering dish for Crepas di Mole? You can also see who has been featured from last week’s birthday-centric submissions. And, on to my co-host,  Elaine – she makes the most delicious looking and sounding food all of which is dairy, wheat and meat free. Take a look at  The foodbod range where you can order some of her flavour packed dips and goodness bars if you are lucky enough to live locally to her.

Click on the Fiesta Friday badge below to join the party – you can submit a post (please be sure to include the link and a mention in your post to Angie  FF#36 post – it’s only polite and also ensures that you can be considered for a feature next week!)  or just take a look at others are up to!  If you are new to blogging, Fiesta Friday is a great way to gain exposure and make new friends too.

If you’re new to Fiesta Friday, please do take a minute to read the guidelines.


A Sublime Rolled Roast Shoulder of Lamb & Potatoes

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy-moderate
  • Print


  • 6 medium floury potatoes
  • 750-900g boned and rolled shoulder of lamb
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil

For the paste

  • 2 stems of rosemary leaves
  • 1 good Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 4 anchovies (in oil)
  • 1 tbsp of the anchovy oil or olive oil
  • 1 tsp Djion mustard
  • ½ – 1 tsp Harissa paste


  1. Pre-heat oven to 180C/350F.
  2. Peel and halve the potatoes lengthwise. Toss in a little olive oil and salt and place in a roasting tin, cut side up.
  3. Pop in the oven to start roasting while you get on with the lamb.
  4. Unroll the lamb, fat side down. Save the stretchy butchers string, unless you have kitchen string that you can use.
  5. Blitz the paste ingredients together – it should be quite thick. Add a little more oil if necessary. Taste and adjust the seasoning – it shouldn’t need salt as there is plenty in the anchovy.
  6. Smear the paste on the meat, getting into all the cracks and crevices. Roll up the lamb (fat on the outside) and secure with the stretchy butchers string. Push in any paste which escapes and coat the ends of the lamb with it too.
  7. Take the tin out of the oven and turn the potatoes over so that the cut sides are face down. Bunch them up (in one layer) so that you can place the rack so that it will cover as many of them as possible.
  8. Lay the lamb on the rack, anoint the fat with a little olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Any potatoes which are not directly under the lamb should have a tiny bit of olive oil drizzled over them too. As the lamb roasts, the fat and the lamb juices will run down onto the potatoes and infuse them with a huge amount of flavour.
  9. Roast for 1 – 1 ¼ hours then remove the lamb and set aside loosely covered with foil, to rest for at least 20 minutes. Keep the potatoes warm under some foil while you get on with any other vegetables – I love green beans with this.
  10. Remove the string and carve into juicy slices – the thickness is up to you – I prefer ½ cm thick slices – not too thin and not too thick either. The paste will have formed a sublime sauce of sorts, inside the lamb which will ooze out as you carve – make sure that everyone gets a little!

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013, 2014. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


87 thoughts on “A Sublime Rolled Roast Shoulder of Lamb & Potatoes

  1. this is my next dinner, I’m not kidding. It looks so incredibly scrumptious I want it right now for breakfast! I don’t know why I don’t cook more dinners like this — a nice roast, perhaps rolled with that holy trinity (anchovies and mustard — wowza!) and then set over some spuds. Sublime is the right word and by the way you would go crazy in my kitchen I am such a slob!


    • Hah – I don’t mind being in a kitchen with someone that needs clearing up after – I am really good at being a sous chef! It’s watching the mess on TV that completely distracts me…Sue, this lamb is just so delicious – Jake asked why it had been so long since we had it…!


    • So glad to find another fan – he is just brilliant isn;t he? I wish I could have a seat at his kitchen table!! National Potato Day can just as easily be re-named after me – I’ve never met a potato I didn’t like!!


  2. Oh, this looks fantastic! Thanks goodness it’s Friday, no counting calories on Fridays! My husband will fall in love all over again with me if he comes home to this. What other motivation would I need, right, Selma? Roasted lamb and potatoes for dinner! I’m already drooling thinking about it. :-)


  3. Pingback: Crepas de Mole | Fiesta Friday #36 | The Novice Gardener

  4. OMG!!!! Selma… The cooking technique is so cool, and the chicken looks absolutely delicious!!!!! I can’t wait to make this when I am back home in San Francisco.

    P.S. So sorry to have been absent at FF party. I was traveling for the most part. But I miss the crowd so much I decide to join the party this week, and even happier to see that you are the host with Elaine :)


    • Thanks Kaila! Lots of roasting tins come with racks but i always end up using them for cooling cakes etc and then forget that they can be used with the tin!! Have you though about co-hosting Fiesta Friday? Angie is always looking for co-hosts and it is so much fun too!


    • Just love lamb really! I used to cook a lot with it but we seem to have really cut back on red meat – not sure why – it is just something that has happened! Jake said he could smell it out on the street as he was walking home!


  5. Selma this looks soo soo amazing! I may need to go buy a lamb shoulder this weekend because I’m sure this will be on my mind until I actually get to taste it! Thanks for hosting today!


    • Jess, I can hardly believe that!! I think that you would love it – it does have a very definite flavour though but you like big flavours so I think you would enjoy this. It’s my pleasure to host and congratulations on your feature, by the way x


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  7. I know what you mean about watching TV chefs – I’m the same (I get similar notions with some of the more elaborate food photography, I have to admit, especially of the artistically-spilled-all-over-the-place type ;-))
    Great idea to use the rack; I’ve always just added the veg to the meat halfway into baking as the veggies usually take less time, and to no adverse effect (I think …)
    Have a lovely FF, and thank you for hosting it!


    • Ginger, I feel the same way about some of those artistically styled shots with lots of cocoa powder or dry couscous or icing sugar all over the surfaces – it looks lovely but what a mare to clean up!! I just watched St Jamie making a Hummingbird Cake – the cloud of icing sugar that mushroomed from the mixer when he was making the cream cheese icing – I could barely breathe on my own sofa!! I would have mixed in by hand first and then turned on the beaters!!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh. My. Goodness. How have I missed this post from…8 hours ago??!! Looks divine Selma!!! I am not too huge on lamb but this…this is something else. Oh and by the way, I am a bit OCD in the kitchen…I clean as I go along so I don’t have hundreds of things to wash! FAB post as usual Selma!!👌


    • Glad to hear it – I’ve mainly had small/medium sized kitchens to cook in where you have to clean up as you go otherwise there would be no room to actually prep or cook and it is a habit that has stuck. About 8 years ago, I did have an enormous eat in kitchen (it had been converted from a garage and before that had been a stable!) and I found it exhausting to work in. The sink was too far away from the stove and the fridge was also a bit of a distance from either. And it used to get messy really quickly too.


  9. Super interesting post, Selma! I am really intrigued by using anchovy with the lamb. It seems to me that both of those have some strong flavour, but I’m willing to give it a try! The next time I do lamb, I am going to try this and the technique with the potatoes! Thanks again so much for co-hosting us! You and Elaine are both the hostesses with the mostesses! :D


    • Pleasure Julianna! Lamb and anchovies have roots in both Italian and French cuisines, apparently. It really is a fantastic pairing. When I roast a leg of lamb, I make about 20 or so deep incisions with a paring knife and then stuff each one with a “bundle” made of a sliver of garlic, a few rosemary needles and an inch of anchovy fillet. Whatever bits are left on the cutting board, I mash up with some of the anchovy oil and rub on the exposed meat – it is so delicious!!


  10. This is truly a mother of all roasts Selma!! You’ve outdone yourself yet again! And the potatoes… wow!! What an amazing combination for the lamb too. I love anchovies, I could eat them on pizza or anywhere for that matter. Love Jamie Oliver too, I dig his accent, do you sound like him? :)). He’s from London yes? Great post, will definitely be making it sooner rather than later. Happy co-hosting, it’s so sweet of you and Elaine to do this yet again.


    • Thanks Loretta – This is definitely one for the cooler weather preceded by much activity in the garden!! I’m afraid that I do not sound like Saint Jamie – he is very charming and Essex with a wonderful turn of phrase. I am not sure what my accent sounds like – it’s probably more stilted!


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  12. Selma, I could write whole odes to roast lamb – definitely an underrated roast but probably my favourite all the same. And the paste. oh my days. I cannot WAIT to try this and I’ll come back and tell you how amazing it is.


    • Mandi, if I had to choose between roast lamb and roast beef in a restaurant or pub, I would always go for the lamb. So much more flavour and less chance of it emerging tough as leather. Do let me know what you think if you try it!


  13. This is really a special occasion dish – and the anchovies are such a great idea. I should have them on hand more often, because there are so many unlikely places to use them where they just make things better. I hope to give this a try soon. And thanks for co-hosting this week.


    • Pleasure Hilda! I always have anchovies in – they are just so versatile. I love frying them off with onions and garlic until they have melted and then adding tomatoes and herbs to make a sauce for stewing beef or lamb.


  14. Selma you have outdone yourself! I just love how you adapted the “messy” chefs method to fit into your “ocd” way of cooking and made it all work so wonderfully. I am a bit ocd myself when it comes to my kitchen as well. Without a team of folks to cleanup the idea of roasting directly on the oven rack sends me a bit around the bend! But you have solved the problem and I can just imagine that is truly one of the best meals ever! This is one of my favorites.


    • Teresa, thank you so much for your kind words!! I guess you have more experience than most, of what happens on sets – I know that it is so different to home kitchens!! Glad you enjoyed the post. Have a wonderful day x


  15. Love the pictures, love the lamb and love the idea of using the rack to get the juices onto the potatoes. I totally second you regarding messy cooks and kitchens. I cannot stand a messy kitchen and hate cleaning afterwards! I clean as I go. One can never tell that I have been cooking!


    • So good to hear that! I can’t bear to leave the kitchen dirty and go to bed even after a dinner party – I just hate the thought of coming downstairs in the morning and finding a lot of horrible work to do!!


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