Recipes | Lamb Boulangère with spruce beer


Lamb Boulangère with spruce beer

I've been looking forward to beer writer Melissa Cole's new book The Beer Kitchen since I heard about it a few months ago. As I expected it's packed not only with delicious recipes but some great suggestions for the type of beers to use in and pair with each dish (see the Cook and Pair suggestions below)

Serves 6–8

Melissa writes: This is one of my go-to lazy Sunday roast recipes. I'm not renowned for my patience and normally for a dish like this you’d be exhorted to poke little holes in the lamb skin and stick anchovies, herbs and slivers of garlic in them – but it’s such a lot of fuss, so I’ve devised a simpler and, pleasingly, more efficient way to infuse these flavours into your meat.

Two quick notes on this: firstly, buy a cheap mandolin – it’s an invaluable kitchen tool, but always use the guard. Don’t argue with me! Cutting yourself on a mandolin blade is a sickening feeling that you'll never forget – trust me. Second, you will need a BIG roasting dish and some turkey foil or a large roasting tray (pan) with a lid.


2.25–2.5 kg (5 lb 8 oz–5 lb 10 oz) bone-in lamb shoulder

4 tablespoons anchovy paste (if you can’t find the paste, pound 20-30 preserved anchovies to a paste in a pestle and mortar)

10 large sprigs of lemon or ordinary thyme, leaves picked and finely chopped

1.5 kg (3 lb 5 oz) waxy potatoes

2 red onions

1 large garlic bulb, cloves lightly crushed

2 teaspoons fine sea salt

2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

330 ml (11 1/4 fl oz/1 1/3 cups) spruce or pine beer (see below*)

500 ml (17 fl oz/2 cups) chicken or lamb stock (or however much will fit, reserve the rest)

For the gravy:

1 tablespoon cornflour (cornstarch)

1 tablespoon dark soy sauce

1 tablespoon red miso paste


Preheat the oven to 140°C (275°F/Gas 1).

Turn the lamb shoulder skinside down and make 3 cm- (1 1/4 in-) deep incisions to create a large diamond grid pattern in the flesh. Take the anchovy paste and a tablespoon of the thyme leaves, mix them together and rub them into the incisions. Set aside.

Into the base of the roasting tray (pan), slice two-thirds of the potatoes and all the onions, evenly scatter over the garlic cloves and the remaining thyme leaves, season with half the salt and the pepper. Mix together with your hands, breaking the onions up into rings as you go.

Roughly smooth out the top of the potato mixture, add the beer and the chicken or lamb stock, then, with the remaining potatoes, make two neat overlapping rings, one inside the other on the top around the outside.

Put the lamb shoulder, flesh side down, in the middle of the potatoes and very lightly score the top in a smaller diamond grid pattern, literally just scratching the surface with the knife. Season with the remaining salt and pepper.

Put the lid/foil on and pop in the oven for 30 minutes.

Turn the heat down to 120°C (250°F/Gas 1/2) and cook for 5–6 hours. When the lamb is ready, you will be able to pull the shoulder bone out with little or no resistance.

At that point, lift the lamb out very carefully and place on a large plate, cover with kitchen foil and pop back in the oven.

Carefully pour off any excess roasting juices from the potatoes (it’s helpful to have an extra pair of hands for this if you can) into a large saucepan.

Turn the oven up to 200°C (400°F/Gas 6), take the lamb out and put the potatoes back in. Leave the lamb somewhere warm-ish to rest.

To make the gravy, mix the cornflour, soy and miso in a small bowl, add a ladle of the cooking juices and whisk together with a fork.

Add this mixture to any juices in the saucepan and allow to bubble gently over a low heat and reduce to your desired gravy consistency.

When the potatoes are browned, turn the oven off, crack open the door slightly, and return the lamb to the middle of the dish. Put your serving plates in to warm.

Cook whatever vegetables you require and bring everything to the table to serve.

* Spruce, juniper and pine beers can often be seasonal, so feel free to substitute a tripel, gently heated for a few minutes with some rosemary or pine/spruce tips and left to stand for 10 minutes


Williams Bros. Alba – UK

Finlandia Sahti – Finland

Pihtla Beer – Estonia

Pinta Koniec Šwiata – Poland

Rogue Yellow Snow Pilsner – USA

The Beer Kitchen


Tripel Karmeliet – Belgium

Unibroue La Fin du Monde – Canada

Westmalle Tripel – Belgium

Wäls Trippel – Brazil

St Austell Bad Habit – UK

Extracted from The Beer Kitchen by Melissa Cole (Hardie Grant, £20) Photography © Patricia Niven

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