Slow-roasted shoulder of lamb with cacao nibs

by David Demaison

The head chef at Rabot Estate gives a comfort food favourite a nutty, bitter twist

There is something comforting about slow roast shoulder of lamb. The fat and marbling slowly melts through the meat as it cooks to give a soft, delicate texture and a sweet flavour. The balsamic gives a little sharpness to cut that sweetness and the nibs offer a little nutty, bitter flavour of pure cacao to round this dish off.


1 shoulder of lamb, boned and rolled
4 sprigs of rosemary
4 medium onions, peeled and cut in half
8 sprigs of thyme
2 whole bulbs garlic, cut in half
125ml balsamic vinegar
4 tbsp cacao nibs
Salt and pepper


Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Season the lamb all over. With a small, sharp knife, stab the lamb a few times then push the rosemary into the cuts.

Toss the onions in a little sunflower oil to coat, then place in a roasting pan big enough to hold the lamb. Place the tray and onions in the oven and roast until the onions start to colour at the edges. Turn the oven down to 120C. Add the lamb, thyme and garlic to the roasting tray on top of the onions, cover with tin foil and cook for 4.5 hours.

Remove from the oven. Remove the garlic and the onions from the pan, keeping the onions to serve with the roast lamb if you like. Now add the balsamic, 120ml water and the cacao nibs and cook uncovered for an hour longer, basting the lamb with the juices every 15 mins. Remove from the oven and place on a tray. Cover loosely with foil.

Strain the juices through a fine sieve into a pan big enough to hold the liquid. With a small ladle or serving spoon, try to remove the excess oil floating on the top. Place the pan on medium heat and simmer until the sauce has slightly thickened. Plate it up, drizzle over the sauce and serve with garlic mashed potatoes and some buttered carrots.