Espatlla de Xai Rostida (Oven-Roasted Lamb Shoulder)

Dairy Free · Gluten Free

15 May · Written by Raquel Jones


This Catalan dish is a cherished tradition during the Christmas season in the northern regions of Spain, extending all the way to the Feast of the Epiphany or Three Kings' Day. This festive celebration commemorates the journey of the Three Wise Men – Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar – as they traveled to present baby Jesus with their symbolic gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

As a child immersed in Spanish culture, I eagerly anticipated the arrival of the Feast of the Three Kings every January 6th. The night before, I'd place a shoe on the windowsill, awakening to discover a gift left behind by the Three Kings.

The day itself was a whirlwind of cooking, feasting, music, and joy, as family and friends gathered to revel in the festivities.

On this special day, the centrepiece was a whole lamb, expertly roasted over coals on a grand rotisserie spit, dutifully manned by my dad and uncle. My mom played the role of Quality Control expert, offering tips and guidance throughout the cooking process.

This oven-roasted adaptation allows you to recreate the magic at home. It's a weekend culinary project that benefits from an overnight marinade, but even with just two hours in the morning, you can savour the exquisite flavors of well-prepared, slow-cooked meat.

Bon Profit! Raquel x

Espatlla de Xai Rostida (Oven-Roasted Lamb Shoulder)

Serves 6-8 adults, otherwise you'll have leftovers for sandwiches!


For the Rub:
  • 200g rock salt
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • half a cinnamon stick
  • 8 Juniper berries (or, 1 tsp of Caraway seeds as a substitute)

Place all ingredients into a pestle and mortar or blender and blitz to a well blended mix - you want little pieces.

For the Lamb:
  • 2-2.5kg of lamb shoulder, bone in
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 2 whole garlic bulbs, cut in half lengthways
  • 2 lemons, cut in half
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 kg new (baby) potatoes
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp each of salt & cracked black pepper


The night before or at least 2 hours before cooking:
  • Fit the lamb into a roasting pan and rub the salt mix all over. Leave to marinate for a min. 2 hours in the fridge (preferably overnight).

The day of roasting:
  1. Preheat the oven to 220° Celsius (fan-forced).
  2. Wipe most of the salt rub off of the lamb with wet paper towel. Set aside for a few minutes whilst you prepare your pan.
  3. To the base of your roasting pan, add: white wine, sherry vinegar, half a litre of water, cut garlic, 2 of your lemon halves, a sprig of rosemary, bay leaf, half a cinnamon stick. Place the wire rack over the top.
  4. Rub the olive oil and cracked pepper over the lamb and then place lamb onto the wire rack.
  5. Roast for 30 minutes, then remove tray from oven and carefully lift out wire rack with lamb and place to one side. Add the potatoes to the base of the tray and mix to well coat the potatoes in the juices.
  6. Replace the wire rack with the lamb over the potatoes and return to oven.
  7. Reduce oven temperature to 160° Celsius and cook for a further 15 mins, per 500g (eg. a 2kg joint will require 1 hour total cooking time) Note: at 15 mins, per 500g, the lamb will be medium, just pink in the middle - for rare, reduce time to 10 mins, per 500g. Also, keep an eye on the juice in the base of the roasting pan, if looking a little dry, add some more water so as not to burn the potatoes.
  8. At the end of the cooking time, take your lamb out of the oven and place on a board with some foil over the top and allow to rest for AT LEAST 15-20 mins before slicing.
  9. If your potatoes need more 'crisping' - return them to the oven, increase temperature to 230° Celsius for 15-20 mins. Once done, transfer the potatoes to a serving dish. Squeeze the remaining lemon halves over the potatoes and sprinkle with the tsp of salt.


Lamb and our shiraz or Tempranillo J are a match made in heaven. Either of these wines will pair perfectly with this moorish lamb and spiced potato recipe.

Blitz a bunch of mint, a sprig of dill and a handful of parsley together with some olive oil and 3-4 anchovy fillets in a processor and use the mixture to dollop on the plate as an accompaniment to the lamb.

Serve lamb alongside the roasted potatoes and some steamed green beans.