Lamb Braised in Manzanilla

This is something I’m trying in Spain, where the lamb shoulders are much smaller than in the UK and just about big enough for three. If this proves successful, I may then try it back at home with a full sized shoulder of New Zealand/British lamb. That will, of course, need considerably more cooking.

[OK, I’ve tested this now and it’s bloody stunning.]


serves: 3
preparation time: 10 mins
cooking time: 2½ hrs


  • olive oil
  • shoulder of milk-fed lamb
  • 4 clove garlic, squashed with a knife blade
  • 2 banana shallots, peeled & quartered lengthways
  • handful of fresh thyme
  • 3 fresh bayleaves
  • 200ml manzanilla sherry
  • Salt & pepper


Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4.

Put 4 tablespoons of olive oil into a heavy-bottomed casserole and heat until nearly smoking. Add the lamb and sear on all sides until browned, seasoning with salt and pepper as you go. Remove the lamb from the casserole, then turn down the heat a little and add the shallots, garlic, thyme and bay leaves. Add a little more olive oil if necessary and cook until the shallots and garlic are nicely coloured.

Add the sherry and deglaze the casserole over a high heat, scraping all the caramelized bits from the bottom. Return the lamb to the casserole. Put the lid on and cook in the oven for 45 minutes, then turn the oven temperature down to 140°C/275°F/gas 1 and cook for another 1½ hours. The lamb should be beginning to fall off the bone at this stage.

Take the lamb out of the casserole and keep it warm. Put the casserole on a medium heat and simmer until the liquid has reduced by three-quarters. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Carve the lamb with a spoon and serve. Drizzle with the sauce.

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