Roast shoulder of lamb makes a fine centerpiece at Easter, Passover or any time of the year. In this recipe, the meat is surrounded by whole cloves of garlic, which soften while roasting into a sweet, succulent paste. The garlic cloves are roasted in their jackets, and the lamb may be boned for easy carving. Not counting the roasting time, preparation takes about 5 minutes. Add some roasted cherry tomatoes, and you’ll have a feast.
Epaule d’agneau rôti à l’ail / Roast shoulder of lamb
A French friend taught me the trick of roasting unpeeled garlic cloves (ail en chemise, or ‘garlic in its shirt’) many years ago. The technique may be used with equal success with roast chicken, roast beef, etc. When you’re using two entire heads of garlic, as in this recipe, not having to peel the cloves saves a lot of time. The garlic cloves may be served whole and their contents squeezed out by diners — or, if you prefer, you can squeeze the paste out in the kitchen and serve it in a small bowl beside the carved roast.
The lamb is imbued with the garlic flavor while it is roasting, and some sprigs of fresh thyme lend a taste of the wildness of Provence. Thyme may also be used on roasted cherry tomatoes, which you can pop in the oven at the same time as the lamb. They come out sweet and very tender.
Compared to leg of lamb, shoulder of lamb serves fewer people, and this can be an advantage if you’re making a dinner for four to five, instead of seven to eight. If you do have leftovers, the lamb pairs brilliantly served at room temperature the next day with homemade mayonnaise and a salad.