Sunday Dinner: 12 Hour Lamb

This would have to be one of my all time favourite slow-roast recipes, and it’s absolutely perfect for winter in a cold house – having the oven on for 12 hours certainly takes the edge off.

I first saw this recipe after Shane Delia’s show started on SBS; and was inspired by the recipe from the Gourmet Traveller website for 12 Hour Roast Lamb with Pistachio & Green Olive Tabbouleh.

The recipe has been tried and tested a number of times now, and every single time I am astounded at how amazing something I have cooked myself can taste (move over, Heston Blumenthal).  If you want an impressive centrepiece to feed a crowd – try this dish.  It is extremely easy – all it really needs is patience and an ability to get out of bed before 7am on the weekend.  You can even go back to bed after it goes in the oven – no need to sit there watching it!

While I didn’t make the tabbouleh this time round (I opted for a brown rice salad), I stayed true to the essence of the lamb seasoning but did stray from the original recipe a little….. so, here is my take on Shane Delia’s 12-hour lamb, enjoy!


  • 1 shoulder of lamb, preferably bone-in (mine was about 2.3kg)
  • 2 tbsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp cumin seeds, or ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp sumac
  • Grated rind of 1 lemon
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 2-3 large cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil


The first step will need to be made at least one day ahead –

  • Grab yourself a mortar and pestle, and grate or zest the lemon into the mortar.
  • Add salt, sumac, cumin, and garlic, and pound into a rough paste
  • Add lemon juice and olive oil and pound until everything is well combined

12HourLamb (1 of 4)

  • Place the lamb in a roasting dish or tray, then rub it all over with the seasoning

12HourLamb (2 of 4)

  • Cover with cling film (or a lid if you have the right dish available), and refrigerate at least overnight or for up to 2 days.
  • On your bake-day, set your alarm for about 13 hours before you plan to serve the lamb – mine was for dinner, therefore I started at 6.30am.  If you plan to serve this for lunch, start the process at about 11pm the previous night (although I can’t imagine sleeping very well with the glorious scent of lamb emanating through the house all night).
  • Take the lamb out of the refrigerator and pre-heat the oven to 110°c (or I did 100°c fan-forced)
  • Allow the lamb to rest for about 30 mins to bring it to room temperature
  • Place the lamb, uncovered, in the oven for 12 hours – baste occassionally with the meat juices that collect at the bottom of the dish.
  • The finished roast will have a divine, rich, crunchy crust and the meat inside will be fall-apart tender and still pink in colour.

12HourLamb (3 of 4)

  • Serve with tabbouleh, farro salad, brown rice salad or a simple green salad with flatbread and hummous.  You’ll want to keep the sides simple and to a minimum, as the lamb will be the centre of attention.

12HourLamb (4 of 4)


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