Spiced Lamb Shoulder with Dates and Shallots on Couscous

, from Issue #42. August, 2015
Photography by Aaron McLean.
Spiced Lamb Shoulder with Dates and Shallots on Couscous

Serves: 4


1 boneless shoulder of lamb, about 1.5 kilograms
8-12 shallots, peeled and left whole or cut into halves or quarters if large
12 fresh dates, stones removed
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 teaspoons each ground cumin and coriander
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
400 ml lamb, chicken or vegetable stock
handful coriander to serve

400 grams instant couscous
500 ml hot chicken or vegetable stock (or strained juices from the lamb recipe)
2 tablespoons olive oil (don’t add the oil if using the lamb juices)
1½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
50 grams butter
70 grams slivered almonds, toasted
handful each coriander and mint leaves, roughly chopped


Preheat the oven to 150˚C.

Put the shallots and dates in the base of a roasting pan and set aside. Combine the olive oil, garlic and spices in a bowl and season. Place the lamb on top of the shallots and dates then pour over the spiced oil. Rub the oil all over the lamb then fold the lamb back up as if the bone was in it. Place in the centre of the pan and pour over the stock. Cover the lamb tightly with foil and roast for 4-4½ hours or until meltingly tender.

Remove the lamb from the pan and set aside. Strain the meat juices, returning the dates and shallots to the lamb, and use the juices as your stock to cook the couscous. The juices can also be refrigerated for up to 48 hours or frozen for up to 3 months.

Preheat the oven to 200˚C.

Couscous: Put the couscous in an ovenproof baking dish. Gradually add the lamb juices or hot stock, stirring with a fork so it is absorbed evenly. Leave to swell for 10 minutes. If using stock, mix in 2 tablespoons oil and rub the couscous between your hands above the bowl to air it and break up any lumps.

Stir through the spices and place in the oven for 15 minutes or until steaming hot. Mix through the butter, almonds, coriander and mint just before serving and season to taste.

To serve: Shred the lamb and serve with the dates and shallots over the couscous or toss through the couscous.