heritage foods
Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder with Vegetable Orzo Risotto, Carmine’s and Virgil’s in NYC, Chef Michael Ronis

The vegetable-packed orzo is the secret ingredient, soft and comforting and the perfect vehicle to sop up gravy from tender lamb. Serves 6


For the marinade:
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup white wine
1 tablespoon garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons fresh sage, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
2 teaspoons oregano, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
¼ black pepper, ground

Lamb and vegetables:
3 to 4 lbs lamb shoulder, cut into 1 – 1 ¼ inch thick slices
5 ribs celery with leaves, cut into 4 to 5 pieces
3 carrots, cut lengthwise in half, and then into 3 to 4 pieces
2 large onions, cut in half, and then quartered
6 cloves garlic, crushed
3 bay leaves
6 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 plum tomatoes, cut in half
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 to 4 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
12 ounces dried orzo pasta
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch snipped fresh chives
½ to 1 cup Romano cheese, grated
1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, chopped


Combine in a small bowl all the ingredients for the marinade and mix well.
Put the sliced lamb in a large glass, ceramic or other nonreactive bowl.
Pour the marinade over the lamb and toss to coat.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Spread the celery, carrots, onion, garlic, and bay leaves in a large roasting pan.
Add the chicken stock to the roasting pan.
Heat olive oil in a small sauté pan over medium heat.
Add the tomatoes, cut side down.
Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the tomatoes are lightly browned.
Remove with slotted spoon and transfer to roasting pan.
Season with thyme, salt and pepper to taste.

Lift the lamb from the marinade and put on top of the vegetables, without touching.
Pour the marinade over the lamb.
Cover with aluminum foil and roast for 1 ½ hours, basting occasionally with pan juices.  Remove the foil and break up any tomatoes that are still whole.
Raise the oven temperature to 425°F.
Roast the lamb for 1 hour longer or until the lamb is nicely browned and fork tender.
Transfer the lamb with a spatula to a plate and set aside. 
Reserve 3 cups of the vegetables and when cool enough to handle, cut these vegetables into 1 inch pieces and set aside.
Strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve into a small saucepan and discard the remaining vegetables.
Skim the fat from the lamb broth and season the broth with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.

Heat the chicken stock in a medium sized saucepan over low heat to a simmer.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter and olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the onion is translucent.
Add the orzo and cook, stirring occasionally for 5 to 6 minutes, or until the onion is golden brown.
Add the chicken stock, 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly, until it is absorbed before adding the next cup.
Season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
Reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring until the orzo is tender.
Remove the orzo from the heat.
Stir in the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter, chives 1 to ½ cups of the reserves chopped vegetables, and ½ to ¾ cup cheese.
Add the parsley, season to taste with salt and pepper.
Transfer to a serving bowl.
Meanwhile, bring the lamb broth to a simmer over medium heat.
To serve, spread the remaining reserved chopped vegetables on a platter.

Place the lamb on the vegetables orzo  and spoon about 1 cup of the broth over the lamb and serve with remaining broth on the side.