Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder with Homemade Harissa


This rendition of Peter Hoffman's harissa-coated lamb shoulder is falling-apart tender after five hours of roasting.

Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder with Homemade Harissa
Photo: © Antonis Achilleos
Active Time:
30 mins
Total Time:
8 hrs
6 servings

Peter Hoffman believes in eating with your hands so much, his menu at the now-shuttered Back Forty West in Manhattan had a section called "Hands." When he makes his sensational harissa-coated lamb — meant to be torn apart and eaten in flatbread or lettuce wraps — he roasts it slowly for 10 hours. In this quicker version, the lamb cooks at higher heat for half the time: five hours. It's still falling-apart tender.


  • 1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds

  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander seeds

  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds

  • 2 ounces ancho chiles (about 4), stemmed and seeded

  • 1 tablespoon smoked sweet paprika

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 3 large garlic cloves, 1 clove mashed to a paste

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning the yogurt sauce to taste

  • 1 (3-pound) lamb shoulder roast on the bone

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt

  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • Lettuce leaves, for serving

  • Warm naan, for serving


  1. In a spice grinder, finely grind the caraway, coriander, and cumin seeds. In a microwave-safe bowl, cover the ancho chiles with water and microwave at high power for 2 minutes. Let cool slightly, then transfer the softened chiles and 2 tablespoons of the soaking liquid to a blender. Add the ground spices, paprika, lemon juice, 2 whole garlic cloves, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and 1 tablespoon of salt. Puree the harissa until smooth.

  2. Set the lamb in a medium roasting pan and rub 1/2 cup of the harissa all over the meat; let stand at room temperature for 2 hours or refrigerate overnight.

  3. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Add 1/2 cup of water to the roasting pan and cover the pan loosely with foil. Roast the lamb for 2 1/2 hours, adding water to the pan a few times to prevent scorching. Remove the foil and roast for about 2 1/2 hours longer, until the lamb is very brown and tender; occasionally spoon the pan juices on top. Let stand for 20 minutes.

  4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the yogurt with the cilantro, mashed garlic clove, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

  5. Using forks or tongs, pull the lamb off the bone in large chunks. Using your fingers, pull the meat into smaller shreds and serve with the yogurt sauce, lettuce leaves, naan, and the remaining harissa.

Make ahead

The harissa can be refrigerated for up to 1 week. The whole roasted lamb shoulder can be refrigerated overnight; rewarm before serving.

Suggested pairing

Smooth, red-berried Shiraz.

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