Marc Vetri's Slow-Roasted Lamb Shoulder

Marc Vetri's Slow-Roasted Lamb Shoulder

[Photograph: Kelly Campbell]

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Rustic Italian Food to give away this week.

By now we all know that brining does wonders for all sorts of proteins (we're looking at you, Thanksgiving turkey) but this Slow-Roasted Lamb Shoulder from Marc Vetri's Rustic Italian Food brings the salty soak to a whole new level.

By taking an already incredibly flavorful cut like lamb shoulder and giving it a three-day brine with rosemary and garlic, the end result is nothing short of mind-blowing.

Vetri's brine, roast, slice, and sear method leaves you with tender slices of lamb perfectly seasoned with undertones of rosemary and that singular lambiness, and a crunchy crust. Those vegetables in the bottom of the pan? Well, once the lamb is finished they have caramelized and soaked in all of those wonderfully meaty juices.

Why you should make this: Lamb shoulder is one of those tragically underutilized cuts that's not only flavorful but affordable on the scale of lamb pricing, and incredibly tasty to boot.

Next time we might think about: That bed of vegetables that the lamb bakes makes for a pretty incredible side. We're thinking about tossing some chunked potatoes in there next time around.

Reprinted with permission from Rustic Italian Food by Marc Vetri, copyright © 2011. Published by Ten Speed Press, a division of Random House, Inc. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.

  • Yield:makes 6 servings
  • Active time: 45 minutes
  • Total time:4 hours 45 minutes plus 3 days brining time


  • Rosemary-Garlic Brine (recipe follows)
  • 1 bone-in lamb shoulder, about 
8 pounds
  • 1 large onion, cut into large chunks
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 3 ribs celery, cut into large chunks
  • 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground 
  • Fresh rosemary leaves, for garnish 
  • Rosemary-Garlic Brine
  • 8 cups hot water, plus 8 cups 
cold water
  • 3 cups kosher salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large clove garlic, peeled
  • Leaves from 6 sprigs rosemary
  • 8 cups ice  


  1. 1.

    Rosemary-Garlic Brine: Combine the 8 cups hot water, the salt, and sugar in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil until the salt and sugar dissolve. Remove from the heat and let cool. Chop the garlic and rosemary in a food processor or by hand.

  2. 2.

    Pour the 8 cups cold water into a small cooler, a tub, a clean heavy-duty trash bag, or another container just big enough to hold whatever it is you are brining. Pour in the cooled sugar/saltwater, the ice, and the chopped garlic and rosemary. The ice will melt as the brine sits.

  3. 3.

    Put a large, heavy-duty trash bag in a large bowl or tub (something large enough to hold the lamb) and carefully pour in the brine. Add the lamb and push it down until it is completely submerged. Press the air out of the bag, tie it closed, and put the container and bag in the refrigerator for 3 days.

  4. 4.

    Preheat the oven to 300°F. Make a layer of the vegetable chunks on the bottom 
of a roasting pan that is large enough to fit the lamb. Pull the lamb from the brine and discard the brine. Place the lamb on the vegetables and roast until fork-tender, 4 to 
5 hours. Let cool to room temperature.

  5. 5.

    Remove the cooled lamb to a cutting board and remove the bones. The lamb should be tender enough to pull the bones right out of the meat. Try to keep the sections of meat as whole as possible.

  6. 6.

    Slice the lamb sections into 1-inch-thick pieces. Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Brown the lamb pieces in the hot oil until crispy, 3 to 4 minutes per side, turning occasionally. Serve the seared lamb pieces on a platter sprinkled with salt, pepper, and fresh rosemary leaves.