In the Puerto Rican cooking pantheon one of the most renowned dishes is Pernil or Roast Pork Shoulder. It is a holiday treat usually served with rice and pigeon peas. Recently we had a lamb shoulder on hand, and the idea occurred to prepare it the same we do pernil; and it came out great.
Since this is lamb and not pork, I tweaked it a bit by adding herbs that would enhance the natural flavor of lamb. Also, I added assorted vegetables along with a broth that contains either red wine or rum. The red wine gives it a milder flavor, the rum gives it a sweeter flavor, your choice. Still, the recipe adheres to our Nuyorican tradition. So, if you want that special dinner, this is it. Family and guests will love you for for it.
LAMB SHOULDER ROAST (Nuyorican Version)
Lamb Shoulder Roast, 3½-4pounds
4 cloves garlic, peeled and cut into slivers
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon turmeric
2 tablespoons fresh chopped oregano or 1 tablespoon dried
1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill or 1 teaspoon dried
1 tablespoon fresh chopped marjoram or1 teaspoon dried
1 cup vegetable or chicken broth
½ cup red wine or dark rum
3 onions, peeled and cut into wedge
3 zucchini (yellow or green or a combination of both), cut into ½-inch chunks
½ cabbage, rinsed, patted dry and cut into wedges
bunch of fresh spinach, rinsed and patted dry
- Wash lamb under cold running water, and pat dry with paper towels.
- With a sharp knife make various slits in the fat and meat of the shoulder. Stud the slits with garlic slivers.
- Sprinkle the lamb with salt and pepper. Combine 4 tablespoons of the olive oil and turmeric and brush the lamb with the mixture. Season with the oregano, dill and marjoram. Place in a zip-lock bag and refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
- Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet or fry pan. Sear lamb over high heat on all sides. Lower heat to medium, pour in wine or rum. Bring liquid to boil, cover and simmer (on medium-low heat) for 45 minutes. Arrange onions, zucchini and cabbage around lamb and simmer, covered, for another ½ hour. Stir in spinach and cook 5 minutes more.
Yield: 4 servings.