"This is a dish that you are going to want to cook over and over. Dead simple and packed full of flavour. For me a slow-roasted lamb shoulder is one of the best meat dishes you can cook—full of flavour, moisture and so satisfying to eat and serve to your friends and family. Long and slow is the way to go with this recipe. All the work is in the preparation of the meat and then it's just a matter of putting it in the oven and letting it go to work. If you can't get the saltbush don't worry. It adds real mineral earth saltiness to the dish, but you can make do without it. The real surprise in this dish is the caramelised rockmelon. The sweetness in the dish is a real knockout especially with the introduction of fresh herbs, Aleppo pepper and lemon juice." - Shane Delia.
1 lamb shoulder (about 1.1 kg/2 lb 7 oz), bone in
1 garlic bulb, halved crossways
2 brown onions, roughly chopped
1 Tbs ground cumin
1 Tbs ground coriander
1 Tbs red Aleppo pepper (pul biber)
2 large handfuls saltbush* (optional)
2–3 litres (70–105 fl oz/8–12 cups) lamb stock (or another meat stock)
85 g (3 oz/½ cup) raisins
235 g (8½ oz/1½ cups) pine nuts, toasted
Handful coriander (cilantro), leaves picked and chopped
Handful mint, leaves picked and chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
Place the lamb in a large wide-based saucepan over high heat and cook, turning occasionally to brown, for 10 minutes. Add the garlic, exposed sides down, onion and spices and continue to cook for 5 minutes until the lamb is evenly sealed and the onion is caramelised. Add the saltbush, if using, and enough stock to cover. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover with a lid and braise for 3–4 hours or until the meat falls off the bone.
Remove the bone from the lamb and discard. Set the meat aside and keep warm. Increase the heat to high and continue to cook the braising liquid for about 20 minutes until reduced by half. Remove about 125 ml (4 fl oz/½ cup) of the sauce and set aside. Return the lamb to the pan.
Meanwhile, remove the skin from the melon, remove the seeds and cut the flesh into 2 cm (¾ inch) pieces. Place the melon in a frying pan over high heat and caramelise for a few minutes, tossing to cook on all sides (see note). Add the raisins, pine nuts, coriander, mint and lemon zest. Mix until combined and add the reserved sauce to help bind the rockmelon and garnishes together.
Serve the lamb with the melon salad.
*Saltbush is an edible shrub found in dry inland Australia. It has a pleasant salty flavour. It is available from specialty food suppliers. The pan has to be really hot to caramelise the melon, otherwise it will stew in its juices.