Roast shoulder of lamb with rosemary, and harissa

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Roast leg of lamb with rosemary, garlic, lemon and harissa

When it comes to roasting an expensive leg of lamb I tend to be quite stuck in my ways. The recipe I love and always turn to is Jamie Oliver’s four-hour shoulder of lamb from his book ‘Jamie At Home’, and it’s perfect in its simplicity. Other than the delicious flavour of rosemary and garlic, which is excellent with lamb, it’s the method that I am particularly fond of. Whether you roast a shoulder or a leg, the outcome is the most succulent fall-off the bone meat imaginable. It also requires so little effort it literally cooks itself.

Roast leg of lamb with rosemary, garlic, lemon and harissa

This is Easter I decided to cook a stunning leg of Karoo lamb that I had in the freezer and I also decided for the first time ever to tweak the recipe slightly. I added lemon and a light layer of harissa paste to the lamb along with the rosemary and garlic. I also kept the temperature at its hottest for 5 minutes before turning it down. Jamie turns it down immediately after putting the lamb in. I had a large joint and I wanted to ensure it was well sealed.

Roast leg of lamb with rosemary, garlic, lemon and harissa

To add to my Easter feast I made my cauliflower ‘couscous’ to which I added a smattering of chilli, finely chopped coriander and preserved lemon. I roasted halved fingerling new potatoes with thyme until golden and crispy.

fingerling new potatoes and thyme

roasted fingerling new potatoes and thyme

I char grilled wedges of aubergine before finishing them off in the oven at 200C for a quick roast, and grilled slices of zucchini for the salad.

grilled and roasted eggplant wedges

grilled zucchini slices with lemon

The inspiration for the salad I made with a delicious wedge of Brie cheese comes from Camilla Comins from the Restaurant at Overgaauw. We had it at our last lunch there. She made her fabulous version with roasted aubergine and Brie on a bed of mixed leaves – which sadly aren’t available to purchase retail. I loved the combination. I added cherry and rosa tomatoes and mixed leaves with basil and served it with my favourite vinaigrette.

salad with roasted aubergine, grilled zucchini and brie

I can hardly believe Easter has been and gone and I do hope you had a good one if you take a break. I also can’t believe I’m making plans for the middle of the year. My next two months are going to be crazy busy, but I am still hoping to keep the recipes flowing here.

**PS ~ Im adding this in after the fact because a friend made this lamb last night at a dinner party I attended and the lemons imparted a very bitter note to the sauce at the end. I was rather disappointed in this because we loved the lemon flavour in my recipe. I can only think that the lemons were a little underripe. So a word of caution, use very ripe sweeter lemons. Meyer if you can, or omit them completely.Roast leg of lamb with rosemary, garlic, lemon and harissa

Roast shoulder of lamb with rosemary, garlic, harissa and lemon

Slow-roasted shoulder of lamb with rosemary, garlic, harissa, and lemon.
Print Recipe
Roast shoulder of lamb with rosemary, harissa & garlic
Prep Time:10 minutes
Cook Time:4 hours


  • 1 shoulder of lamb – 2 – 2.5kg
  • 2 T harissa paste
  • Olive oil
  • A handful of rosemary stalks
  • 2 whole heads of garlic
  • 2 lemons cut in half
  • Salt and pepper


  • Preheat the oven to the highest it will go.
  • Prepare the lamb by slashing through any fat if there is, but not penetrating the meat. Smear the harissa paste over the meat and season with salt and pepper.
  • Cut a head of garlic in half sideways and place at the bottom of a large oven dish with sides along with half the rosemary and one of the cut lemons. Place the joint on top of this, which forms a flavour bed on which the meat roasts. Break the cloves of the other head of garlic and scatter these around and on top of the meat along with the rest of the rosemary.
  • Drizzle olive oil over the top.
  • Tightly seal the whole tray with heavy-duty aluminum foil ensuring it is completely sealed.
  • Place in the hot oven and leave for 5 minutes and then reduce the temperature to 170C and leave it to roast for 4 hours. Do not open and check the meat. Just leave it.
  • After 4 hours remove and let the meat rest, covered for about 20 minutes before carving and serving. It literally falls off the bone.
  • If you wanted to make gravy, remove the meat and skim off any fat. Heat the pan juices with some lamb stock allowing it to thicken slightly, and then pour over the meat.


For a more traditional slow roast shoulder of lamb, leave out the lemon and harissa and simply roast with loads of garlic and rosemary. 
Servings: 4
Author: Sam Linsell





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  1. Perfect timing with this recipe. I’m planning on roast lamb for Anzac Day on April 25 (Australian public holiday) and this will be my guide. Might leave off the harissa though, I’ve been to the shops enough already! Thanks!

  2. Hi Ann it’s so delicious with or without. enjoy!

  3. Just bought a leg of lamb yesterday at our large food store Gilmore’s… and now I know what to do with it!
    And the rosemary groundcover is growing all over in my garden! Thank you Sam!

  4. Hi Carlie, I wish I had masses of rosemary growing in my garden.

  5. Just thought I’d let you know how amazing our lamb tasted today. It was a large 2.8kg leg and I followed recipe exactly, except harissa. It was the most tender lamb I’ve ever cooked. Thanks Sam.

  6. Hi Ann, thanks so much for the feedback, glad you enjoyed. Funnily enough a friend is making it for a dinner party tonight and luckily I have been invited too.

  7. Beautiful pictures and recipes! I’m glad I found your blog!

  8. Thanks Marina 🙂

  9. It came out perfect and tasted delicious. Thank you so much 🙂

  10. Awesome Lara, that is so lovely to hear.

  11. Hi! Would the lamb taste bad if I marinate it in harissa overnight?

  12. Hi Murni, I think harissa on its own is too strong to marinate lamb, maybe dilute it with olive oil a bit.

  13. I have also made the Jamie Oliver lamb shoulder recipe many times and it is wonderful! Is there enough fat in the leg to get the same result when slow-cooked or is it a bit dry on the outside?

  14. Hi Lindy I do rub a little olive oil on the leg before seasoning but there is defintiely enough moisture to roast it. Made it a few weeks ago (minus the lemon) and a friend of mine who ate it who is from Normay and grew up on a sheep farm said it was the best lamb he had ever eaten. I had roasted the most wonderful piece of free range meat from a lamb from the Northern Cape. so I think it made a big difference. I think I prefer it without the lemon. It can make the jus bitter.

  15. I made this at the weekend. The smell whilst cooking were delicious I omitted the lemon but used the harissa which added a subtle flavour not spicy as I envisaged. It literally fell of the bone, A little difficult to carve but hardly any fat or waste. This the lamb recipe for me for the future

  16. Im so glad you enjoyed it Alan. Yeah, some harissa paste is hotter than others, but all round depth and not so much heat.

  17. Are the temperatures in Celcius? Not fan- forced oven?

  18. Hi Jan, yes its celsius and not fan, conventional.

  19. Hi, Loved this lamb, thanks!
    Do you think the results would be as good with a cast iron casserole dish with lid on?

  20. HI G, Im not too sure but I cant really see why not as long as it seals tightly.

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