This is a dish that is slow-cooked until the meat is meltingly tender, and the sauce intense. Always use shoulder when slow-cooking lamb, as its flesh is sweeter and its higher fat content allows the meat to cook for a substantial amount of time before drying out.
Make this the day before if you have time, since its flavour will be even better – and eat with nothing more than thick slices of rustic bread and a simple salad.
11/2kg/3lb lamb shoulder – ask your butcher to trim off most of its fat
1 tbsp olive oil
2 red onions, peeled and sliced
1 head of young garlic, cut in half
11/2tsp fennel seeds
1 dried red chilli, crumbled
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 bunch of marjoram or oregano
200ml/7fl oz dry white wine
2kg/4lb ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
3 red peppers, sliced into eighths, deseeded
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4. Place a large roasting tray on top of the stove over a high heat. Season the lamb generously all over with salt and pepper. Pour the oil into the hot tray and once the oil is really warm, add the shoulder. Brown really well all over – do not skimp on this as it seals in the flavour of the meat. Once the lamb is very well browned, remove from the pan and set aside. Turn down the heat slightly and add the onion, garlic, fennel seeds and chilli. Cook for 10 minutes, by which time the onions should be tender and slightly caramelised. Add the paprika and oregano and cook for a further five minutes, then pour over the wine, allow it to blister and bubble for a minute or two, before adding the tomatoes and returning the meat to the pan. Seal firmly with aluminium foil and place on the middle shelf of the oven.
Cook for 1 hours, remove from the oven, then discard the foil and add the red peppers. Turn the heat down to 120C/250F/Gas and cook for a further 1 hours. Remove from the oven, taste and adjust the seasoning; it will almost definitely need a fair amount of salt.
Using a sharp knife and a pair of tongs, remove the meat from the bones – it will slip off with very little help. Discard the bones, return the meat to the tomatoes and peppers in the pan and serve.