Sous Vide Lamb Shoulder with Ottolenghi spice rub

lamb-shoulder-sous-videOttolenghi’s recipes are known for fantastic flavour and we’ve used his shawarma spice mix recipe to cook this amazing juicy fall off the bone lamb shoulder. Many recipes are developed specifically for sous vide cooking, and provide the time and temperature of the sous vide process. Other recipes can work equally well for sous vide cooking. Changing a traditional oven roast to sous vide preparation often make it easier, with fool proof results. Oven roasting requires you to check regularly to make sure it’s cooked, but not dried out. It can make you worry whether it will it have the right texture. With sous vide cooking you can simply leave it to cook once you’ve established the right time & temperature. Then all it takes is a quick sear to create that beautiful crust. It also allows you to prepare ahead: after cooking the meat sous vide cool the bag in a water bath and store in the fridge, and sear just before serving.

To use a recipe that isn’t specifically developed for sous vide cooking, you take the spice mix recipe and often reduce the liquid/oil as you cook it in the bag. Try it out, it’s worth experimenting opening up so many opportunities for amazing meals!

Cook it at 70C degrees for a juicy fall-off-the-bone result. You can cook it at a higher temperature for a more fall apart/braised texture. Amazing Food Made Easy provides a useful sous vide time & temperature guide.


SV time: 14 hours

SV temperature: 70C



1 Lamb shoulder 

Marinade spice mix (based on Ottolenghi’s Shawarma):

2 teaspoons black peppercorns

5 cloves

½ tsp cardamom pods

¼ tsp fenugreek seeds

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 star anise

½ cinnamon stick

1 tablespoon grated nutmeg, about half a pod

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

1 tbsp sweet paprika

1 tbsp dried sumac

1/2 tbsp kosher salt

¼ C canola oil


6 slices fresh ginger (R5 coin size)

3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed



  1. Toast peppercorns, cloves, cardamom, fenugreek, fennel, cumin, star anise and cinnamon in a cast iron pan on medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes until the spices begin to pop and release their aromas. Take care not to burn them. Add the nutmeg, ground ginger and paprika, and toss for a few more seconds, just to heat them.

  2. Grind the spices in a high speed blender like the OmniBlend

  3. Add the ground spices to a bowl, add the other spices and oil, then mix

  4. Prepare sous vide water bath, and set temperature to 70C degrees

  5. Score the fat of the lamb shoulder

  6. Heat oil in a cast iron skillet, and sear the lamb shoulder on all sides

  7. Take a vacuum bag, add the lamb shoulder (wait till it’s cooled to handle) to the bag, and rub the spice mix over all sides. Add the garlic cloves and ginger slices, make sure they’re not all together but nicely distributed over the meat.

  8. Vacuum seal the bag.

  9. Place bag in the sous vide bath, and cook for 14 hours.

  10. Remove from the bath and either sear immediately, or place in ice bath to cool down and store in the fridge to finish just before serving.

  11. To sear: preheat oven to 200-220C grill

  12. Remove meat from the bag and place on a baking tray (discard garlic and ginger), reserve the marinade for a sauce.

  13. Place the tray in the oven (place rack in the centre of the oven), just long enough to create a beautiful colour and crust.

Here served with an easy stir-fry of onion, red & green bell pepper, sprouts, chickpeas and broccoli, using some the liquid from the sous vide bag for the sauce.