Recipe: Herbed shoulder of lamb

This classic Mrs Beeton recipe makes a perfect centrepiece for your Easter dinner. Serve it with some fluffy roast potatoes and seasonal vegetables (we’re thinking spring greens, cabbage, asparagus) for a crowd-pleasing feast.


  • One shoulder of lamb, boned (you can use a rack or leg of lamb instead)
  • Four garlic cloves, peeled and quartered lengthways
  • About six each small fresh rosemary and thyme sprigs
  • Four bay leaves
  • Two oranges
  • 60ml/ 4tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 300ml / ½ pint red wine
  • Orange slices and fresh herbs for garnish


  1. Trim any lumps of fat from the lamb, then tie it in a neat shape if the butcher has not already done this. Weigh the joint and calculate the cooking time at 30 minutes per 450g / 1lb, plus 30 minutes.
  2. Use a small, pointed knife to make short cuts into the lamb, at an angle running under the skin, all over the joint. Insert pieces of garlic and the rosemary and thyme sprigs into the cuts. Place the joint in a deep dish, with two bay leaves underneath and two on top.
  3. Pare two long strips of rind off one orange and add them to the dish, next to or on top of the lamb. Squeeze the juice from the oranges, then mix it with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Pour this mixture over the lamb, cover, and marinate for several hours or overnight. Turn the joint at least once during marinating.
  4. Set the oven to 180°C / gas 4. Transfer the joint to a roasting tin, adding the bay leaves and orange rind, but preserving the marinade. Cook for half the calculated time, brushing occasionally with the reserved marinade and basting with cooking juices from the tin. Pour the remaining marinade and the wine over the joint and continue roasting.
  5. Transfer the cooked joint to a serving dish, cover with foil and set aside. Pour 300ml boiling water or vegetable cooking water into the roasting tin. Boil the cooking juices rapidly until they are reduced by half. Season to taste, then strain the sauce into a gravy boat.

Garnish the lamb with orange slices and fresh herbs and serve with the sauce.