seven hour lamb with minted cannellini beans

the sunday roast is a british tradition which i’ve never been particularly excited by. in fact it was probably my ambivalence towards roasts, which are often held up as being the best way to eat meat, that contributed to my decision to be a vegetarian many years ago. and having reverted to being a meat eater i have never felt the need to put traditional roasts into my menu planning.

however, i have found my own ways of cooking and enjoying large pieces of meat. slow roasted pork belly is always a pleasure as is slow roasted lamb. however, neither of these will ever be served with the traditional accompaniments of roasted potatoes and a selection of vegetables. far more likely is the appearance of noodles, rice or lovely vegetable side dishes.

last week i was inspired to adapt a nigella recipe which sees a lamb shoulder slow-roasted (i did mine for c7 hours) on top of a bed of cannellini beans and this was superb, not least as the beans soak up all the rich lamb flavours and make a lovely accompaniment to the meltingly tender meat or, if you have leftovers (i made sure we had leftover beans!) are delicious as the base for a thick winter soup which is lightened with the addition of cavolo nero.

i served our lamb with roasted pumpkin and buttered savoy cabbage flavoured with chilli flakes and lemon zest and am sharing it with johanna, the passionate cook, who is asking us all to cook roasts as part of waiter, there's something in my...

seven hour lamb with minted cannellini beans (serves 6-8)

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 shoulder of lamb

3 large white onions, finely chopped

6 cloves garlic, finely chopped

2 carrots, finely chopped

x3 400g tins of cooked cannellini beans (total drained weight c.800g)

250ml white wine

1 litre stock (i used vegetable stock)

3 bay leaves

1 heaped teaspoon salt flakes

2 tablespoons capers, soaked, drained and chopped

3 tablespoons fresh mint, finely chopped

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

preheat the oven to 170c.

heat a large roasting tin on your hob, add a tablespoon of oil and sear the lamb, skin side down, over a high heat, until it is browned (this created lots of smoke and smells when i did it so perhaps shut your kitchen door and open the windows). place the lamb to one side and tip the onions, garlic, carrot and drained beans into the tin. mix well, add the wine, stock and bay leaves and put the lamb on top of this, skin side up. season with the salt flakes, cover with a large tent of foil with tightly sealed edges and place in oven. cook at 170c for 3 hours and then turn the heat down to 140c and cook for up to 5 hours more (if you want a quicker version you can take the lamb out after the initial 3 hours)

carefully remove the lamb from oven and let it sit for 10 mins before removing the foil. put the lamb on your serving dish and put the stock from around the beans into a pan (use a slotted spoon or colander to drain the beans which you should keep warm) and discard any fat which floats on top of the stock. bring this to the boil, adding the capers, mint and red wine vinegar. add the beans and warm through before serving.

the lamb will be very tender and rather than needing to be carved you’ll be able to pull it apart using a fork and spoon.