The long slow cooking creates a dish where the meat just falls off the bone, with rich, flavour-packed juices to spoon over couscous.







Skill level

Average: 3.9 (11 votes)

Mutton has been neglected, but I reckon it’s even more delicious than the popular alternative of lamb.

As a chef I know how wonderful and diverse mutton can be. The definition of mutton is generally accepted to be the meat of a sheep over two years old. This makes it very different from the much younger lamb, which floods our supermarket shelves.

Unlike lamb, mutton is from an animal that has grazed, giving the meat a wonderful, deep red colour, and a succulent texture. 


  • 1 mutton shoulder on the bone
  • glug of olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1½ tbsp (7.5 gm / ¼ oz) coriander seeds
  • 1½ tbsp (7.5 gm / ¼ oz) cumin seeds
  • 2 pinches of saffron
  • 3 star anise
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 4 red onions, peeled and quartered
  • 1 head garlic, cloves peeled
  • 2 preserved lemons, quartered, soft inner flesh discarded
  • 2 whole red chillies
  • 2 tins chopped tomatoes
  • 600 ml (1 pint lamb) stock
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander
  • 1 bunch fresh mint
  • cooked cous cous, to serve

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.


Preheat oven to 150°C/300°F.

Trim an excess fat from the meat. Rub shoulder with olive oil, salt and pepper. Seal in a hot roasting pan. Add spices, onions, garlic, preserved lemon, chillis and tomato. Pour over stock. We’re using just enough liquid to keep it moist – it’s a long, slow braise, not a stew, so you don’t need to completely cover the meat.  

Cover with a heavy lid and cook in oven for 3 hours.

Remove from oven. Season remaining liquid with salt and pepper to taste.

Roughly chop fresh mint and coriander. Stir into tagine.

Serve with cous cous.