Smokey Spicy Slow Cooked Lamb

One of our desert island ingredients would most certainly be the chilli, along with salt, olive oil, lime, honey and basil or coriander – our die hard favourites. If we were being sneaky we would take a mixed handful of chilies; birds eye chillies – small and pack a punch and are easy to pick up at the supermarket, Ancho – rich, fruity and quite mild in spiciness, Jalapeno – fresh, zingy, spicy and versatile, Scotch bonnet – furiously hot, citrusy, wonderful roasted and fantastic in sauces, Chilie de arbol – a dried chilli with nutty notes, a great one to keep at hand and wing into stews, marinades, sauces and oils, cayenne – a nice sharp heat, great to help lift a dish, and Pasilla – medium hot and tangy that works well with red meat. We could go on and on, there are thousands of chillies out there! If we had to choose one right now it would be the jalapeno – love the jalapeno. The jalapeno when fresh is emerald green and pretty mild and we often thinly slice and add to salads, slaws and relishes. Then there is the pickled jalapeno which is a store cupboard staple, once the chili is pickled it really brings out the heat, the once mild chili is now hot and tangy – we can’t help but add it to nearly every marinade, dressing or sauce that we make. And lastly there is the chipotle which is a dried and smoked jalapeno – Mexico’s most famous chilli and a flavour that makes us go quite weak at the knees. We have pots of it in our kitchen in every way possible – dried whole, in flakes, in powder, in a paste – you name it we have it. We also regularly make it into Chipotle en adobo (which means in a sauce or marinade). The chillies mixed with the tomato, vinegars, herbs and spices create a deep, smoky, tangy fantastically moreish paste that is incredibly useful and delicious added to pasta sauces, stews, marinades, dressings, dips and salsas – or add to your pizza, eggs, soups, roasts and just about anything else. It’s a winner. You can also usually pick up Chipotles en adobo ready made from the Mexican section in the supermarket (or online at either or This recipe for slow cooked smoky lamb is a favourite of ours and our clients, we often cook it at home for the family, for big events, for fashion lunches and we even recently served it at a wedding. You can serve it simply with rice, pulled into tacos or we like to serve it with either creamy wet polenta or grits (American dish using ground cornmeal) with a fresh salsa on top, yum.


    Chipotles en adobo sauce:

    80g chipotle chillies

    6 garlic cloves, chopped

    1 onion, chopped

    2 bay leaves

    1 small bunch thyme

    1 small bunch oregano (or 1 tsp of dried)

    1 tbsp honey

    olive oil

    175ml apple cider vinegar

    1 tsp cumin seeds

    5 tbsp tomato puree

    4 tbsp soft brown sugar

    2 tbsp salt


    1 shoulder of lamb (boneless)


    to serve –

    200g Polenta

    60g butter

    Small bunch coriander

    Olive oil

    Squeeze lime 


1.     To make the sauce. Place the dried chipotle chillies in a pan with boiling water and simmer for about 20 minutes, till soft. Remove the chillies from the pan (keep the liquid) cool then snip off their stalks and remove the seeds. Place the chillies in the food processor with the garlic, bay leaves, honey, thyme, and oregano, blitz till smooth.

2.     Heat a little olive oil in a pan with the chopped onion and cumin seeds, add the chilli paste and tomato puree and cook for a couple of minutes then add the vinegar, sugar, salt and about 50ml of the chilli liquid (or water) for 5 – 10 minutes, till thickened. Take off the heat, spoon into sterilized jars. Will keep up to 2 months.

3.     Spoon the chipotle en adobe over the lamb and rub in, if time then marinade over night in the fridge (If not then try and marinade for at least an hour), place on a tray and turn oven to 180c and cook for 2 – 3 hours, till tender and falling apart. Leave to cool then shred.

4.     Cook the polenta to the packet instructions, stir in the butter and season well with salt and pepper. Spoon into bowls, add the shredded lamb on top and spoon over extra juice.

5.     Place the coriander in a pestle and mortar and drizzle in olive oil, bash till combined then season and add the lime, spoon over the lamb and serve.