What’s cooking today: Slow roasted shoulder of Karoo lamb with mint and pickled ginger

Tony Jackman’s Karoo lamb shoulder with mint, lemon, garlic, soy and pickled ginger, on a plate by Mervyn Gers. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

Lamb can take Asian ingredients even if it’s an unusual route for this cut of meat so prized by many South Africans. Spying the jar of pickled ginger with its gorgeous curls of pink delight, I reached for soy and garlic and picked some fresh spearmint from the garden.

I have long liked fresh herbs with lamb, usually complemented by lemon juice. Lamb shanks roasted with fresh thyme, mint, oregano, lemon and garlic is a favourite way with lamb for me.

I went that route (of seeking freshness of flavour) with a shoulder of Karoo lamb sourced from an Eastern Cape Midlands farmer, Louwrence Lombard, from whom I buy a whole sheep at a time, cut into whatever portions I choose. Louwrence expertly cuts to order and delivers to the front gate, even neatly trimmed racks. A WhatsApp gives me the price and by the time he’s pulling away in his bakkie his phone pings with my proof of payment. From the farm to the front gate. Mr D, Cradock style.

I’ve been trying new ways with flavouring lamb lately, to keep things interesting for you and me. Plenty of spices, especially cumin, coriander and the like. The brine from a packet of olives, which gives lamb superb flavour. And some months ago I cooked a leg of mutton with gin, juniper and lavender. Oh my, that was so good; you must try it.

The key ingredient of this recipe is pickled ginger, a superb ingredient to have to hand. You can chop some up to add to a salad or its dressing, put slivers of it on top of savoury snacks or in a sandwich. I used it for a shoulder of lamb along with lots of fresh spearmint, garlic, soy and lemon.

This recipe starts on the stove top, then goes in the oven, and is finished on the braai. A great way to plan some braai-side geselligheid with a beer or two while it cooks in the oven and the wood burns down, then let the coals do their work on that fatty crust. Perfect Saturday fare.

How many for? Bear in mind that a lamb shoulder rewards you with some of the best flavour lamb meat can have, not least thanks to that layer of fat which needs lots of rendering and ideally ends up crisp, but there’s not a great deal of meat on it. Two hungry people can manage it pretty well; for four it would be a bit mean in the portioning. Three, maybe.


1 shoulder of lamb

¼ cup lemon juice

¼ cup soy sauce

½ cup chopped fresh mint

2 Tbsp pickled ginger, chopped

2 Tbsp garlic, chopped

Coarse salt

Black pepper

Olive oil


Chop the mint, garlic and pickled ginger very finely and add to a bowl along with the soy sauce and half of the lemon juice. Stir in a little salt and ground black pepper.

Season the shoulder with salt and pepper and brown it on both sides and the edges in olive oil in a heavy oven pan, on the stove top. Make sure the fatty side especially gets plenty of browning.

Add the other ingredients to the pan and dunk the shoulder in it to coat both sides, then lay the shoulder on it, fatty side up.

Roast at 170℃ for 30 minutes then at 160℃ for three hours. Rest and pour off fat. Add the remaining lemon juice and a little water and reduce the pan juices. Strain.

Finally, grill over hot coals to crisp the fat and serve with the sauce and a few slivers of pickled ginger and garnish with chopped mint. DM/TGIFood

To enquire about Tony Jackman’s book, foodSTUFF (Human & Rousseau) please email him at [email protected]

SUBSCRIBE: There’s much more from Tony Jackman and his food writing colleagues in his weekly TGIFood newsletter, delivered to your inbox every Saturday. Subscribe here. Also visit the TGIFood platform, a repository of all of our food writing.

Mervyn Gers Ceramics supplies dinnerware for the styling of some TGIFood shoots. For more information, click here.


Comments - share your knowledge and experience

Please note you must be a Maverick Insider to comment. Sign up here or sign in if you are already an Insider.

Everybody has an opinion but not everyone has the knowledge and the experience to contribute meaningfully to a discussion. That’s what we want from our members. Help us learn with your expertise and insights on articles that we publish. We encourage different, respectful viewpoints to further our understanding of the world. View our comments policy here.

No Comments, yet