"When I was travelling in Spain many years ago I ordered a lamb dish at a small club of some description. When it came out, it was this tiny little lamb shoulder, but it was one of the best things I've ever eaten," explains chef Andrew McConnell, the owner of Cumulus Inc.
Knowing it would make for a fantastic share plate in a restaurant he refined the idea, increased the size and put it on the menu at Cumulus Inc. The result was fall-off-the-bone flesh with a caramelised crust that remains one of the restaurant's most-ordered dishes.
1x 2.5kg lamb shoulder, bone in
lemon cheeks, to serve
2 garlic cloves, crushed
finely grated zest of 2 lemons
2 tablespoons finely chopped oregano leaves
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons salt flakes, plus extra
2 red onions, finely sliced lengthways
1 pinch of salt flakes
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pinch of ground sumac
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
To make the marinade, combine the garlic, lemon zest, oregano, olive oil and salt in a small bowl.
Place the lamb shoulder in a deep, heavy baking tray and rub the marinade all over the joint. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for a few hours. If you're planning ahead, the lamb is even better marinated in the refrigerator overnight.
Preheat the oven to 150°C fan–forced (170°C conventional).
Uncover the marinated lamb and add 250ml of water to the tray. Cover the whole tray lightly with foil and place in the oven for 2 hours. Turn the temperature down to 110°C fan–forced (130°C conventional) and cook for another 6 hours, adding a little more water to the tray from time to time if necessary. Remove the foil for the last hour of roasting to crisp up the outside.
For the marinated onion, add the onion to a medium bowl and break up the slices with your hands. Add a good pinch of salt, toss and set aside for about 1 hour to soften.
Drain the softened onion and add to a medium bowl. Add the lemon juice, oil, sumac and parsley and combine thoroughly.
The lamb is ready when you can easily pull the meat from the bone with a fork. Place the lamb on a serving platter. Pour the juices from the tray into a small jug and skim off most of the fat. Shred the meat from the bone at the table and serve with the roasting juices, marinated onion, lemon cheeks and extra salt on the side.
This is an extract from The Broadsheet Melbourne Cookbook, which includes 80 recipes from the city’s best restaurants, cafes and bars.