The killer’s shoulder: slowed cooked lamb with pistachio honey dressing

Growing up on a 40,000 sheep station between Bourke and Brewarrina, we were exposed to things city kids weren’t. My sister Claire and I would run down the back on the days a sheep was getting killed most excited to see “the sausages” fall out.

Graphic to a city person, yes, I almost made a vegetarian friend sick whilst living in London, this was such a contrast from his lifestyle. I knew the cuts of meat, like rituals the recipes for what they would each eventually be turned into. I watched Dad cut up the sheep and helped by carrying the trays of meat into the kitchen from the meat house to be bagged by Mum.

The reality is these days kids don’t know where their food and fibre comes from, a colleague of mine recently read me some research saying that children today thought that cotton came from an animal….the mind boggles. I remember being shocked to hear growing up that some of the other kids thought milk came from bottles in the supermarket. I guess I have been a foodie from way back.

In our house, the tradition around the shoulder went one of two ways: it was either boned out and turned into a stew in Winter or at other times of the year was boned and minced. Both of these are methods are wonderful and I love the food my mother cooks dearly, it is my roots and tradition and makes me feel so comfortable whenever I cook it.

However, I found a recipe recently for the humble shoulder, a most underrated cut, I think. This recipe is a Middle Eastern inspired and the meat is meltingly tender, literally falling off the bone, then when cooked smothered with a sticky honey dressing and topped with the beautiful green and textured pistachio nuts.

Here is the recipe (full credit to Donna Hay)

Slow-cooked lamb with pistachio honey dressing

  • 2kg shoulder, bone in (no butchering Mum)
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup (45g) brown sugar
  • rind 1 orange
  • 2 cinnamon sticks

Pistachio dressing

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup pistachios
  • 2 cups flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped (not sure i used that much as I sprinkled on last)

Preheat oven to 180c. Place lamb, garlic, vinegar, sugar, orange and cinnamon in a baking tray and cover with foil. Roast for 2 1/2 hours, remove foil and roast for a further 30mins until golden.

To make the pistachio dressing, place the honey and vinegar in a bowl, add the pistachio and parsley and mix to combine. Top lamb with the pistachio dressing to serve.

The Verdict

The smell of the aromatics cooking is amazing! This is a really special roast to serve at a dinner party and would be great served on a large platter, for people to share. I served it with buttered couscous and steamed veges, presentation has never been my thing, I’m all about the flavors and the produce. I’m sure you can be more creative.

Enjoy! Think of the sheep grazier when you eat it and remember that there are communities that rely on sheep and agriculture as the main industry in their local economy. Yes, “the sausages” is the offal!

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