Shoulder of lamb with sweet paprika and chickpeas

Serves 4–6

Slow cooking is a lovely, heart-warming and satisfying way to cook. It allows time for flavours to develop and meld together. In essence, this is a one-pot meal. The only accompaniment you will need is a green vegetable, such as slow-cooked courgettes or a lightly dressed salad of seasonal leaves.

1.5kg/3lb shoulder of lamb joint
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
11/2 tsp fennel seeds
750ml/11/4 pints dry white wine
2 red onions, peeled and chopped
5 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly crushed
Small bunch of thyme
1 dried red chilli
1 tsp sweet Spanish paprika
2 red peppers
250g/8oz quality tinned plum tomatoes
250g/8oz cooked chickpeas (tinned ones can be used)

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4. Trim the lamb of all fat and season all over with salt and pepper. Place a large, sturdy roasting tin on the hob over a medium heat and add a tablespoon of olive oil. When hot, add the lamb and brown well all over; this will take 10 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, put the fennel seeds in a small frying pan over a high heat and warm for a minute, or until they begin to pop and release their aroma. Immediately take off the heat and pound, using a pestle and mortar. Set aside.

Once the lamb is golden-brown, remove it from the roasting tin and set aside. Turn the heat down slightly and deglaze the tin with the wine, stirring to scrape up the sediment. Let the wine bubble and reduce by about a third, then pour it off into a jug.

Add the remaining olive oil to the roasting tin and warm over a low heat. Add the onions, garlic, crushed fennel seeds and thyme and cook gently for 10 minutes until the onions are softened. Crumble in the dried chilli, add the paprika and return the lamb to the tin. Pour over the wine and turn off the heat.

Cover the roasting tin tightly with foil and place on the middle shelf of the oven. Allow the lamb to cook, undisturbed, for approximately two hours.

Halve and deseed the peppers, then cut each half into eight pieces. Take the lamb out of the oven, uncover and scatter over the sliced peppers and tomatoes. Re-cover and return to the oven for a further hour.

Now take out the roasting tin, uncover and stir in the chickpeas. Turn the oven up to 200C/400F/Gas6 and cook for a final 15 minutes. Discard the thyme. Set aside to rest in a warm place for 20 minutes.

Before serving, tear the meat from the bones – it will come away easily; tongs are the easiest implement to use. Return the meat to the pan and taste for seasoning, adjusting as necessary. Reheat gently to warm through if necessary and serve.

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