Braised Lamb Shoulder with Onion-Anchovy Jam from Slow Fires is a delicious, slow-cooked meal that packs a ton of flavor in tender, moist, rich lamb shoulder. Though it takes a little time to make, the final product makes it worth every moment.

Cookbook Review: Slow Fires & Braised Lamb Shoulder with Onion-Anchovy Jam |

I’ve never made lamb shoulder before, but then this cookbook came into my life and I was SOLD. This is the recipe I’ll be busting out for my upcoming dinner parties. It’s fairly straightforward to make, fills your home with the most glorious smell and tastes absolutely divine.

Cookbook Review: Slow Fires & Braised Lamb Shoulder with Onion-Anchovy Jam |

If you’ve ever been curious about braising, roasting and grilling, this is the cookbook for you. It’s no-nonsense approach to the different techniques provides a crash course for even the most novice cook. Aside from the stunning photography, the pages of expertly written instructions make you feel right at home in Justin Smillie’s world of slow fire cooking. 

Seriously, the detail is absolutely astounding. You don’t have to ask yourself, ‘I wonder if there’s any way to make this the night before’ or ‘What does braising actually mean?’ – the carefully laid out instructions cover everything. Even this lamb shoulder recipe that I cooked at the crack of dawn to finish up before a lunch meeting (ah the life of a food blogger). The only reason I dared to start it so early and refrigerate it until later to photograph and eat? The book laid it out for me right there, telling me not only that I could refrigerate it overnight, but how to cool it off before sticking it in the refrigerator.

Cookbook Review: Slow Fires & Braised Lamb Shoulder with Onion-Anchovy Jam |

There’s everything you could dream of in this book, covering meats, poultry and seafood; you’re mouth will be water with every turn of the page trust me. Of course most of these recipes take time (hence the title Slow Fires), but that’s exactly what I want to cook on a lazy Sunday for dinner. I’ve already tagged half of the recipes in the book as must-tries for my holiday break that’s coming up!

Your mama’s roast ain’t got nothing on the recipes hidden inside this bad boy, trust me.

Cookbook Review: Slow Fires & Braised Lamb Shoulder with Onion-Anchovy Jam |

Disclosure: I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. As always, all opinions are my own.

Cookbook Review: Slow Fires & Braised Lamb Shoulder with Onion-Anchovy Jam |

Braised Lamb Shoulder with Onion-Anchovy Jam

Yield: SERVES 6 TO 8
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Additional Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours

Lamb shoulder is slowly braised in an onion-anchovy jam that packs a ridiculous amount of flavor into the meat as it cooks.


  • 3 to 4 pounds boneless lamb shoulder, preferably with a thick fat cap
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt, plus more
  • 3 tablespoons whole black peppercorns, toasted and lightly crushed
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • 3 medium red onions, sliced very thin
  • 10 garlic cloves, smashed or finely grated to a paste
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup Anchovy Paste (2oz canned anchovies mashed with some of the oil in the can to form a paste)
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 tablespoon pimentón (smoked paprika)
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 cup fruity red wine
  • 1 tablespoon agave or honey
  • 1 quart Roasted Lamb Broth or Chicken Broth (I used Chicken Broth)


  1. If your lamb shoulder does not come with a thick fat cap, skip this scoring step. Place the lamb on a clean work surface so its fat side faces up. Hold a razor blade or very sharp paring knife at a 45-degree angle over one of the fat cap’s top corners. Score the fat on a diagonal, running the blade from the top corner down and across. When scoring, make sure not to cut through into the meat; each incision should just barely cut into the fat, about 1/8 inch deep. Continue scoring the fat in this fashion, spacing incisions 1/4 inch apart. Stop scoring the cap when the fat begins to taper off. Now, working in the opposite direction, repeat the scoring so a tight diamond pattern forms across the fat cap.
  2. Season the lamb on all sides with 2 tablespoons of salt and the pepper. Tie the lamb up with butcher’s twine, using a standard butcher’s loop spaced at 1-inch intervals. The tied shoulder should form a uniform cylinder.
  3. Place the shoulder on a cooling rack set over a rimmed baking sheet. Dry-brine the shoulder, uncovered, in the refrigerator for 12 to 24 hours.
  1. Remove the lamb from the refrigerator. Set a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and swirl in 2 tablespoons olive oil (1/4 cup if your shoulder does not have a fat cap). When the oil is shimmering-hot, lay in the lamb, fat side down if that applies.
  2. Sear the fat cap, lowering the heat if necessary to prevent scorching, for 10 minutes, or until it crisps and browns deeply. Then rotate, lightly searing all sides of the shoulder until they easily release from the pot and are a light golden brown. Transfer the lamb back to the cooling rack and set it aside. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the pot, making sure to keep the fond in place.
  3. Set the pot back over medium-low heat and stir in the onions, scraping up all of the fond on the bottom. Gently stew the onions for 45 minutes, or until they collapse and caramelize richly. Stir frequently so they color evenly; the longer you take in the step and the more you stir, the more profound the flavor will be.
  4. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  5. Stir in the garlic and cook for 10 minutes, or until its aroma blooms and softens.
  6. Stir in the tomato paste and mustard and sauté for 2 minutes, or until the paste cooks into the onions. Add the anchovy paste, rosemary, and pimentón. Raise the heat to medium-high. Pour in the vinegar, wine, and agave. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until the liquid turns syrupy and the onions are spreadably soft. Season with salt to taste.
  7. Return the lamb shoulder to the pot with its fat cap facing up. Spoon and smear the onion jam all over the lamb and pour in enough lamb broth to cover two-thirds of the shoulder. Bring the broth up to a simmer, then reduce the heat to a lazy bubble.
  8. Cover the pot and transfer to the center rack of the oven. Braise the lamb for 11/2 hours, or until its center is easily pierced with a knife or cake tester, but the meat is still bouncy when prodded. Every 30 minutes, baste the lamb, re-cover, and rotate the pot 90 degrees.
  1. Remove the pot from the oven and thoroughly baste the lamb shoulder with the juices and caramelized onions. Season with salt to taste. Re-cover and let the lamb rest for 30 minutes, or until the internal juices settle. (At this stage, you may cool it—ideally by placing the pot in a sink filled with ice water—and refrigerate it overnight. Rewarm it over a gentle, medium-low flame.)
  2. To serve, transfer the lamb to a cutting board and cut away the twine. Slice the meat into thick slices and arrange them on a warm platter. Spoon the onion-anchovy pan sauce on top.