A lovely, rustic, slow-cooked and warming stew that really showcases the lamb. It does involve a little time, as the meat needs to go in the oven first, so that the fat melts through it and it becomes incredibly tender, then its cooking liquid is used to simmer the beans, so that they soak up all its flavour – but it’s well worth it.

Sometimes people think of shoulder of lamb as a “man’s dish”, quite heavy and butch, but this is quite light, the salsa verde mayonnaise gives it a real zing – and it seems to be popular with everyone.

Ingredients (serves 4)

For the lamb
4 tablespoons olive oil, plus a little extra to finish
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1.5kg shoulder of lamb, boned and rolled
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 leek, chopped
1 heaped tablespoon tomato purée
125ml red wine
1 litre good chicken stock
salsa verde mayonnaise (see separate recipe)

For the beans
150g dried white beans
25g butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 carrot, finely chopped (about 5mm)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
150g baby spinach leaves, roughly shredded
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method difficulty: medium (24 hrs)
Mix 2 tablespoons of the oil with the garlic, thyme and salt and pepper and then rub all over the lamb. Leave to marinate overnight in the fridge.

Soak the beans in cold water overnight, too, then drain. The next day, preheat the oven to 160 °c/gas 3.

Heat the rest of the oil in a casserole (one that has a lid), put in the lamb and brown on all sides, then lift out and keep to one side. Add the carrots, onion and leek and cook over a low heat for 5 minutes, until the vegetables have softened but are not coloured.

Add the tomato purée and the red wine and bubble up to reduce the liquid by half. Return the lamb to the casserole, add the stock, and pour in enough water to cover the meat. Bring to a simmer, cover and put into the preheated oven for about 3 hours, until the lamb is very tender. Lift out the lamb from the casserole and keep to one side (reserving the cooking liquid).

To cook the beans, heat the butter in a large heavy-based saucepan. When it’s foaming, add the onion and garlic and cook gently for 5 minutes or until the onion is translucent. Add the carrot and the drained white beans and strain in the reserved cooking liquid from the lamb. Bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender (you may need to top up with a little water).

Remove from the heat and stir in the herbs and chopped spinach. Taste and season as necessary. Return the cooked lamb to the pan over a low heat until heated through. To serve, lift out the lamb and slice into 4. Spoon the beans and sauce into a warmed, shallow serving dish or platter. Arrange the lamb on top and drizzle with a little olive oil. Serve with a bowl of salsa verde mayonnaise.

Salsa verde mayonnaise

Ingredients (makes 500ml)
40g fresh parsley leaves, roughly chopped
20g fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
30g rocket leaves, roughly chopped
1 clove of garlic, roughly chopped
3 tablespoons capers
4 heaped teaspoons dijon mustard
160ml olive oil
4 anchovy fillets

Method difficulty: easy
Mix all the ingredients apart from the mayonnaise in a bowl and leave to stand for 10 minutes to allow the flavours to infuse into one another. Blend to a coarse paste (or do this with a pestle and mortar).

Put the mayonnaise into another bowl and slowly whisk in the blended herb mixture, a little at a time. Do this slowly, to avoid the mayonnaise separating. Chill in the fridge until needed.