Coffee-Braised Spoon Lamb

Photo: Annabelle Breakey; Styling: Randy Mon

Time: 6 1/4 hours. Spoon lamb gets its name from the texture of the meat when it's finished cooking: so tender, you can cut it with a spoon. This long, slow cooking technique benefits leg of lamb, typically a tough cut, and the acidity of the coffee offsets the richness of the meat. The sauce made from the drippings begs for polenta or potatoes.

Yield: Serves 8
Recipe from Sunset

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Recipe Time

Total: 6 Hours, 15 Minutes

Nutritional Information

Amount per serving
  • Calories: 469
  • Calories from fat: 42%
  • Protein: 55g
  • Fat: 22g
  • Saturated fat: 6.2g
  • Carbohydrate: 10g
  • Fiber: 0.0g
  • Sodium: 156mg
  • Cholesterol: 170mg


  • 6 garlic cloves, divided
  • 1 bone-in leg of lamb (about 7 lbs.), trimmed of outside fat
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 4 large carrots, cut into chunks
  • 2 shallots, peeled
  • 1 tomato, quartered
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 3 cups freshly brewed strong coffee, divided
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley


  1. 1. Preheat oven to 400°. Mince 2 garlic cloves and rub onto lamb, spreading evenly. Generously sprinkle lamb with salt and pepper. Put lamb on a V-shaped rack in a large roasting pan. Surround rack with onion, carrots, shallots, tomato, and remaining 4 garlic cloves. Drizzle olive oil over vegetables and lamb.
  2. 2. Roast 30 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° and cook another 30 minutes.
  3. 3. Reduce heat to 250°. Transfer lamb to a plate and lift rack from pan. Set the roasting pan on a burner over high heat, add wine, and boil, using a wide metal spatula to stir and scrape caramelized vegetables from bottom of pan, until wine has reduced by half. Stir in 2 cups coffee. Remove from heat. Set lamb back in pan (without rack); spoon juices over it. Cover tightly with foil.
  4. 4. Return to oven and cook until lamb is tender and pulling away from the bone, about 5 hours, turning lamb once halfway through cooking.
  5. 5. Transfer lamb to a platter and cover with foil. Reheat remaining 1 cup coffee and pour with liquid and vegetables from pan into a blender, working in batches if needed. Pulse until smooth. Pour sauce through a strainer set over a bowl, using the back of a spoon or ladle to push it through if needed. Season sauce with salt and pepper. Pour half of sauce over lamb and serve the rest in a bowl. Sprinkle lamb with parsley.
  6. Note: Nutritional analysis is per serving.
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