This perfectly-tender lamb is drenched in a sweet and slightly sour sauce, providing a welcomed acidic balance to the rich meat. Buying whole fennel seeds and crushing them yourself not only yields a nice variety of smaller and larger pieces, but it really brings out the fennel’s flavor and aroma. Use the bottom of a heavy-bottomed skillet or pot to crush the seeds. Browning the lamb in a hot oven gives it its gorgeous golden brown crust. Serve with a lighter, fruitier red such as a Pinot Noir, or a bigger, oakier white like an oak-aged Chardonnay.
1 tablespoon plus 1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tablespoon plus 1 tsp. granulated sugar
2 Freshly-ground black pepper
2 teaspoons fennel seeds, crushed
1 (3 ½-lb.) boneless lamb shoulder, tied with butcher’s twine
1 cup boiling water
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
¼ cup plus 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar, divided
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves and tender stems
How to Make It
Preheat oven to 325°F. Stir together salt, sugar, pepper, and fennel in a small bowl. Rub mixture all over lamb. Place lamb in a large Dutch oven or other ovenproof heavy-bottomed pot and carefully pour in boiling water. Cover, transfer to oven, and bake until lamb is very tender, 3 to 3½ hours.
Remove pot from oven and uncover. Increase oven temperature to 500°F. Stir brown sugar and ¼ cup of the vinegar into juices around the lamb and return to oven. Roast, uncovered, until lamb is browned and vinegar mixture begins to reduce, about 10 minutes, watching closely to prevent burning.
Transfer lamb to a rimmed baking sheet. Transfer pot to stovetop and bring vinegar mixture to a boil over medium-high. Cook, occasionally spooning off and discarding fat from surface, until sauce reduces, about 5 minutes. (There should be about ⅔ cup sauce.) Stir in remaining 1 tablespoon vinegar.
To serve, pull lamb shoulder apart into large pieces and place on a platter. Spoon sauce over top and garnish with parsley.
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