What’s cooking today: Lamb shoulder with tomato and chickpeas

What’s cooking today: Lamb shoulder with tomato and chickpeas
Tony Jackman’s lamb shoulder with tomato and chickpeas. (Photo: Tony Jackman)

We’re ringing the changes with lamb again. This time: slow-cooked in tomato, spices and chickpeas with a hint of sherry vinegar and prickly pear syrup.

For the past year I’ve been ringing the changes with lamb and mutton recipes, trying to move away from the ways I’d always cooked it and to find more variety. For as long as I can remember, I went with herbs for roast lamb, whether rosemary, thyme, oregano, mint, or a combination of some of those. I’m not in any way knocking all of that (my signature lamb dish is shanks slow-cooked with oregano, thyme, mint, garlic and lemon), but I needed more variety, and a challenge.

The most successful to date was really left-field: a leg of mutton roasted with juniper, gin and lavender. It was so good that I chose it as my recipe of the year. I’ve taken to cooking lamb slowly with spices, especially cumin, and with the brine from a jar of green or black olives (even a mixture of both). It’s a great way to cook lamb.

This week I went a different route. I concocted a marinade (which later became a cooking broth) of puréed tomato mixed with sherry vinegar and a variety of spices: cumin, fennel, onion powder, galangal powder, garlic powder and black pepper. It lazed in that for a few hours, then I wiped off the marinade (but reserved it) so that I could blitz the joint in a very hot oven before turning down the heat, adding the marinade back to the pan with wine (white; I don’t like red wine with lamb other than to drink it with the meal), and letting it idle the day away in a low oven.

A while before the end, I added drained chickpeas from a tin for the last 40 minutes or so.


1 shoulder of lamb

1 x 400 g can chopped tomatoes

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground fennel

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp galangal powder

1 tsp garlic powder

½ tsp fine black pepper

2 Tbsp Sherry vinegar

200 ml Sauvignon Blanc

1 x 400 g can of chickpeas, drained

Salt to taste (be generous)

80 ml red prickly pear syrup (or honey)

Salt to taste


Blitz the contents of a can of chopped (or whole, peeled) tomatoes with all the spices and the sherry vinegar in a food processor and transfer to a bowl or bakkie that can hold the whole lamb shoulder.

Make sure the joint is covered all over with the marinade. Marinate for 4 hours, refrigerated.

Remove from the fridge at least an hour before starting to cook. Scrape off the marinade and reserve. Preheat the oven to 240℃. 

Season the shoulder with salt on both sides and put it in a roasting dish. 

Roast for 10 to 15 minutes at 240℃ and remove it from the oven.

Add the marinade back to the roasting dish along with the white wine (I used sauvignon blanc) and return to the oven for 10 minutes at the same heat (just to get the heat up again), then turn it down to 160℃ and roast for four hours, covered.

After the third hour, add the drained chickpeas and prickly pear syrup, and roast uncovered for another hour. DM/TGIFood

Tony Jackman is Galliova Food Champion 2021. His book, foodSTUFF, is available in the DM Shop. Buy it here

Follow Tony Jackman on Instagram @tony_jackman_cooks. Share your versions of his recipes with him on Instagram and he’ll see them and respond.

SUBSCRIBE to TGIFood here. Also visit the TGIFood platform, a repository of all of our food writing. 


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