Thursday, September 4

Easy Lamb Recipe: Slow Roasted Dutch Oven Shoulder Roasts or Shanks with Tomatoes, Onions, Garlic, Rosemary, and Red Wine

Frozen whole tomatoes are tossed right in - no need to defrost.

So why am I posting a cozy winter recipe that requires hours of oven time even though for many of us the heat of summer is far from over? Because I've just shared a really easy way to freeze tomatoes—which work beautifully in this recipe—on my kitchen garden blog, along with a lighthearted explanation of why my once much used canning equipment spends most summers gathering dust.

If you're lucky enough to have a tomato glut on your hands right now, you might want to save some for later. Of course if it's already cool enough in your neck of the woods for this kind of hearty fare, feel free to toss in fresh tomatoes instead. Either way, enjoy!

"You're right," Joe said as I dished up this hearty one pot meal last winter, "a lot of our food isn't pretty."

I tend toward homey comfort foods that, while simple to prepare and deeply satisfying, often leave something to be desired in the looks department. This meal was decidedly not beautiful (or photogenic), but it tasted wonderful.

The nicest thing about dutch oven cooking (I love my enameled cast iron dutch ovens) is that if dinner ends up being served a couple of hours later than planned, it will only taste that much better. And the leftovers are delicious. This is slow food at its best.

As always, I urge you to seek out local and organic ingredients; they really do make a difference. Natural, grass-fed lamb raised by small producers is becoming more and more readily available around the U.S., so there's no need to buy frozen lamb that has traveled halfway across the world. Not that I have anything against sheep farmers in New Zealand and Australia.

Browned lamb shoulder roasts - funky looking but tasty.

Each lamb shoulder has two small roasts which are oddly shaped, but—like most of the 'cheaper cuts' of meat—are full of flavor. If you can't find shoulder roasts for sale (sometimes the shoulder is left whole), you can substitute lamb shanks or even lamb sirloin roasts. Just make sure you use something that has bones.

The other ingredients and amounts are flexible when cooking this way, so feel free to adjust them to suit your taste. A few handfuls of sweet red pepper (from the freezer perhaps?) tossed in are very nice. I've also made this with just the onions and garlic (no wine, herbs, or tomatoes) and it's delicious.

Cold weather comfort food that will make your kitchen smell divine.

Susan's Slow Cooked Dutch Oven Lamb
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 head of garlic, cloves peeled and chopped
2 pounds yellow or white onions (about 8 small), peeled and thickly sliced
5 pounds lamb shoulder roasts, sirloin roasts (bone-in), or lamb shanks
1 cup red wine (I use Cabernet)
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup chopped fresh flat leaf Italian parsley
1 pound frozen whole paste tomatoes (or 2 cups good canned plum tomatoes)
Salt & pepper
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish (optional)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Sprinkle lamb roasts with salt and pepper and then brown on all sides (in batches if necessary), using tongs to turn the pieces. Watch out—the oil will splatter. Remove lamb and set on a large plate.

Add onions to dutch oven and cook, stirring frequently, until soft and starting to brown, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Make a well in the center of the onions and add the garlic. Cook, stirring so that all the garlic touches the bottom of the pot, 2 to 3 minutes. Mix garlic with onions.

Stir in 1/2 cup of the wine, bring to a boil, and stir up any brown bits on the bottom of the pot.

Stir in the rosemary and parsley.

With slow roasting, the dutch oven does most of the work.

Move the onions to the side and set the lamb roasts on the bottom of the pot. Cover the meat with some of the onions.

Scatter the frozen tomatoes over the meat and pour on the remaining 1/2 cup of red wine. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Put on the lid and set the pot in the oven. Cook for 2½ to 3 hours (or longer), stirring everything around after the first and second hours. Be careful not to burn yourself.

If the meat hasn't already fallen off the bone, it should easily come away with a fork. Serve up the meat with the onion tomato mixture on the side, or mix it all together into a glorious, sludgy mess. Garnish with more chopped parsley if you want to pretty it up a bit. Add a nice green salad and pass warm slices of bread.

Feel like baking your own bread?
Beyond Easy Beer Bread (ready in under an hour!)
Oatmeal Toasting Bread
Savory Cheese & Scallion Scones
Carrot Herb Rolls (and a beautiful bread book for beginners)
How To Make Your Own Pita Bread & Pita Chips

Love lamb? Here are more of my Less Fuss, More Flavor lamb recipes:
Lamb Burgers with Garlic, Shallots, & Feta on Homemade Rosemary Focaccia
Grilled Lamb Burgers with Roasted Red Pepper, Parsley, & Kalamata Olive Relish from Cooking with Shelburne Farms
Easy Ground Lamb & Feta Stuffed Mushrooms
Onion & Herb Crusted Lamb Spareribs and Grilled Lamb Leg Steaks

Still hungry? You'll find links to all my sweet and savory Less Fuss, More Flavor recipes in the Farmgirl Fare Recipe Index.

©, the slow cooked foodie farm blog where I was really tempted to wait to post this recipe until I had a chance to take a more appetizing, less embarrassing photo of the finished dish (maybe even one without a big splotch of sauce on the plate), but considering how long it takes me to get around to doing anything (these photos are from February) and how not into food photography I am (partly because my kitchen is always a cluttered mess), I figured it would probably be at least another year or two before that happened, so it was ugly or nothing. But it really does taste great!


  1. I got so into reading your descriptions and looking at the food I didn't even notice any sauce splotches on the plate. I could almost smell that lamb roast slow cooking on the stove.

  2. If I didn't know better, I would say you're writing recipes specifically for ME. You know this is going to be cooking in my kitchen come December. Thank you for another lamb recipe, because I have never cooked lamb in my life and yet will have about 150 pounds of it in the freezer shortly. And bonus points for giving me a way to use up some of my frighteningly large stash of canned tomatoes!

  3. It sounds delicious. I love lamb and I love to use my dutch oven. Thanks!

  4. I laughed yesterday when at the thrift, I saw a 70's-ish book entitled "How to Use Your Freezer," and thought, huh? Who needs that book? I'm glad I'm not the only one who freezes everything I can! This is Texas, after all, and even though it's still 95 outside, way too hot for canning, we're ready for heartier food at our house. Time to move beyond summer food! No more grilled fish and sliced watermelon here. This last week we have had
    Jambalaya (Ok lots of Cajun)
    Chicken spaghetti sauce
    Roast turkey and garlic mashed potatoes
    Tomorrow it's going to be roast beef - no wait, LAMB!
    Thanks for the inspiration! And I'm on my way to buy a big freezer.

  5. Bring on the ugly! That looks good. I think I'll come to your supper table come February. (and I didn't notice a sauce splotch either - now I'm going back to look for it - bet it looks yummy too)

  6. Not's delightful! I love these type of meals. And lamb...oh, I am such a fan :)

  7. It doesn't matter what it looks like as long as it tastes good! And that looks really yummy, if it weren't so late in the evening I might be tempted to make some.

  8. What great recipes. We've begun buying lamb directly from an Icelandic sheep farmer in our area -- it's wonderful quality meat -- and I'm sure we'll be trying some of these in the future! Love your blog...will add it to my blogroll.

  9. What is your best recipe ( and EASIEST recipe) for fixing duck? Looks like I'm going to have to slaughter a couple this coming week, and I have never prepared duck.

  10. Thank you!!! I am so glad I found you! I will eat lamb cooked most ways, but my husband will not. It's like you've written the recipes just for him. We raise our own lamb too, and I make our own Feta, and other cheeses. You will be a daily stop for me!

  11. Just a quick question (although I'm sure you have quite a few backlogged from the power outage) I have been mulling over your lamb shoulder roast recipe and and thinking this could be a good way to introduce myself to the meat. I have recently met a sheep farmer who sells lamb at the local farmers market and have been wanting to try some of his meat. Anyway my question is this:

    Could you use a slowcooker instead of a dutch oven?

    I don't have a proper dutch oven and as I live in an apartment building with limited kitchen cupboard space I have to limit my purchases of kitchem pots and pans (to my eternal dispair!!) plus I think it should be fine as this is slow roasting after all (much the same as slowcooking you see) but let me know what you think.

  12. Hi Everybody,
    It's great to hear from so many lamb lovers!

    Hi Tracy,
    Sorry, but I've never cooked duck before. But if you're looking for recipes (for duck or just about anything else) I recommend Food Blog Search a google-based search engine created by some of my favorite food bloggers that searches for recipes on over 2,000 hand picked food blogs.

    Hi Anon,
    I apologize for taking so long to get back to you. I'm so glad you're thinking about trying lamb - and it sounds like you have a wonderful source for some really nice meat.

    I've never actually made anything in a slow cooker, but I know they're super popular - so convenient! I can't see why this recipe wouldn't work in one, as Dutch ovens are the original slow cookers. : )

    I know a lot of slow cooker recipes just have you put all the ingredients straight into the pot, but I would highly recommend still browing the meat and cooking up the onions and garlic in a pan on the stovetop first, as that browning and caramelizing really adds a lot of flavor.

    If you do try this recipe in your slow cooker, I'd love to hear how it comes out. Happy cooking!

  13. Hi Susan: Found your blog and this recipe while searching for lamb shoulder roast (of which I have many). Very entertaining and congratulations to you for leaving California in pursuit of the country lifestyle (same here, but via 20+ years in the Army first).

    I'm trying out this recipe today--but I noticed there's no recommend temperature once you put the dutch over in the oven. We'll give it a shot at 325 or 350 to see how things go. . .

    Thanks for making my Sunday morning!

  14. Whoops. Never mind about the temperature. I scanned the recipe too quickly. . .was so excited about getting to the good stuff that I overlooked the first instruction!

  15. Hi Susan - have been waiting to try this recipe since you gave the "okay" to throw all those lovely little heritage tomatoes in the freezer. It's all in the oven now and smells soooooo good. The only addition I made was to cut organic potatoes into chunks and brown those right after browning the lamb. Took them out and followed the recipe, (putting the potatoes on top of the tomatoes-did add a bit of oregano as well because I didn't have the parsley). I'm going to go do some vacuuming or something because the smell is driving me crazy...gee...only two more hours till dinner :(

    This is my first post - have been lurking in the background for almost a year and have tried many of your recipes - all with great the blueberry bars and all your animals. Have to say, your Lucky Bear stole my heart - he just looks like such a sweetheart.

  16. This is my go-to recipe for lamb roasts - the only change that I make is that I used dried mint in place of parsley/rosemary. Thank you for a wonderful recipe!


December 2015 update: Hi! For some reason I can't figure out, Blogger hasn't been letting me leave comments on my own blog (!) for the last several months, so I've been unable to respond to your comments and questions. My apologies for any inconvenience! You're always welcome to email me: farmgirlfare AT gmail DOT com.

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