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PREMIUM

Perfect Pairing: Spiced lamb shoulder with couscous

Despite featuring an alluring melange of North African spices, this slow-cooked spiced lamb dish offers a surprising level of versatility when it comes to wine matching.

The food in my new book Michel Roux at Home is the food I eat with my family, particularly at my house in France. My family is from the north of France and Burgundy, where the cooking is rich in butter and cream, but these days I find myself gravitating to the food of the south, featuring olive oil and fresh fruit and vegetables. My home is in the south, in Ardèche, and that’s my style of cooking now.

Some people still see French food as fine dining, haute cuisine, but I want to show that French home cooking is very different from that and doesn’t have to be complicated. Like Italian cooking, it’s all about using good seasonal ingredients and letting them shine by not messing around with them too much. And that’s exactly what I do at home – I’m not into fuss or fancy frills.


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Spiced lamb shoulder with couscous

The inspiration for this dish comes from North African cooking and I use spices normally associated with tagines. The lamb does have to be marinated for up to two days and needs long, slow cooking, but you are rewarded with flavourful meat that’s falling off the bone. Perfect with the couscous and chickpeas.

Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 lemon, quartered, pips removed
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 lamb shoulder
  • 2 red onions, cut into wedges
  • 1 litre pomegranate juice
  • 200ml lamb or chicken stock
  • 150g couscous
  • 400g tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 100g tub of pomegranate seeds, or seeds from 1 fresh pomegranate
  • Small handful of mint leaves, chopped
  • 100ml olive oil
  • 2 tbsp clear honey
  • 50ml lemon juice

Garnish: Extra pomegranate seeds and mint leaves

Method

1. Put the garlic, cinnamon, cumin, oregano and lemon quarters in a blender with the salt and black pepper, then blend until smooth. Put the lamb shoulder in a large roasting tin and tip the marinade over the top. Massage the marinade all over the lamb and leave it in the fridge for 24 hours or up to 2 days.
2. Remove the lamb from the fridge about an hour before cooking. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Scatter the onion wedges around the lamb, tucking some underneath, then pour
over the pomegranate juice and the stock. Cover the lamb with a piece of baking paper, then some foil and cook for 4 hours until the meat is nice and tender. Remove the lamb
from the oven and set it aside to rest. Reserve the cooking juices.
3. Put the couscous and chickpeas in a mixing bowl and add 300ml of the lamb cooking juices. Leave to stand until the couscous has absorbed all of the liquid, then break it up with a fork. Add the pomegranate seeds and mint leaves, and stir in the olive oil.
4. Drizzle the honey and lemon juice over the lamb, garnish with pomegranate seeds and mint leaves, and serve with the couscous and chickpeas.


Michel Roux at Home was published in August 2023 (£26 Seven Dials)

Book cover of Michel Roux At Home

Michel Roux Jr is one of the world’s most respected chefs. Le Gavroche, which he ran from 1991 until it closed earlier this year, received recommendations for excellence in every food guide. His latest TV series Michel Roux’s Provence Masterclass first aired in March 2023 and is available to stream on Discovery+.


The wines to drink with spiced lamb shoulder with couscous

By Fiona Beckett

Even though the lamb is spiced, this is still a versatile dish to pair with wine. Normally I’d recommend a southern French Grenache-Syrah blend, but there are a couple of ingredients – the pomegranate juice and the honey – that will make the dish sweeter than you might imagine given the North African spicing, so I’d be tempted to look beyond that. Grenache on its own, particularly young Grenache, has a sweetness that should chime in nicely – there are great examples from Rioja and Navarra these days and, further afield, from South Africa and South Australia. Graciano-based Rioja with its exotic sweet edge should also work. I’m not sure this is a white wine dish, though you could try a Viognier or a Rhône-style Viognier blend – but I’m tempted by the idea of a dark rosé. Tavel would be the obvious candidate, but a Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo from Italy would be a fun summer choice. Or a big, ripe rosé from South Australia (thinking of Charles Melton’s fabulous Rose of Virginia).

Wines selected by our Decanter experts


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