From The Catalan Kitchen: From Mountains to City and Sea – Recipes from Spain’s Culinary Heart
by Emma Warren. Photography © Rochelle Eagle | Food styling © Lee Blaylock (Smith Street Books, October 2018 – AU$ 55, NZ$ 65)
ESPATLLA DE XAI AL FORN
OVEN-ROASTED LAMB SHOULDER
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) rock salt
2 sprigs rosemary
2 fresh bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick, halved
8 juniper berries
2–2.5 kg (4 lb 6 oz–5½ lb) lamb shoulder, bone in
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) sherry vinegar
125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) dry white wine
2 garlic bulbs, cut in half crossways
2 lemons, halved
500 g (1 lb 2 oz) chat (baby) potatoes
1 teaspoon salt flakes
mixed fresh herbs, such as mint, dill, parsley, basil and tarragon leaves, to serve
In a blender, blitz the salt, one rosemary sprig, one bay leaf, half the cinnamon and the juniper berries until evenly chopped.
Place the lamb in a large baking dish and rub with the salt mix to coat. Set aside in the fridge for 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 230°C (445°F) fan-forced.
Rub the salt off the lamb and rinse well. Pat dry with paper towel and allow to air-dry on a wire rack at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Smear the lamb with the olive oil and sprinkle with the pepper. Place the lamb and the wire rack on top of a baking dish and pour the vinegar, wine and 1 litre (34 fl oz/4 cups) water into the base of the dish. Throw in the garlic, two lemon halves and the remaining rosemary, bay leaf and cinnamon. Roast for 30 minutes, then remove from the oven and turn the shoulder over. Reduce the temperature to 150°C (300°F) and return the lamb to the oven and roast for a further 30 minutes. Remove, turn the lamb over again and place the potatoes in the baking dish. Return to the oven for another 30 minutes. Keep an eye on the liquid and add a little more water if the baking dish is dry and the potatoes are starting to burn. Finally, increase the heat back to 230°C (445°F), turn the lamb shoulder one last time and roast for 15 minutes.
Transfer the lamb and potatoes to a large serving dish. Squeeze the remaining lemon halves over the potatoes and sprinkle with the salt.
Scatter the herbs over the lamb and serve.
Catalan families often eat this dish a couple of times during the Christmas period, kicking off on 8 December and carrying on through to Three Kings’ Day on 6 January. It’s sometimes served as a late night dinner on the ‘Nit de Nadal’ (good night) or Christmas Eve.