"Too-Simple" Stuffed Lamb Shoulder

Makes 6 to 8 servings
Time: 1 hour, largely unattended

After two cooks helped move the three-foot sterling silver platter lavishly spread with Daniel's four lamb preparations, he handed me a dinner plate and said tongue-in-cheek, "You see the size of your platter? That represents the complexity of your dish." Then he continued to needle me almost constantly during the fifteen or so minutes I spent preparing this dish.

And, from the time my lamb shoulder hit the cutting board for trimming to the moment I served it, there was no point at which he didn't try to take the reins to his kitchen back. You could, as he suggested, add lemon zest to the mix or, as I've done in the past, chopped anchovies or rosemary or even all three. But I often believe that less is more and, in the end, Daniel conceded that he liked the dish and that maybe, just maybe, he had learned (or at least recalled) something about simplicity in home cooking.

The meat is especially lovely served with some mixed salad greens dressed with a vinaigrette made from a little of the pan juices and some sherry vinegar.

1 (2- to 3-pound) boneless lamb shoulder, in one piece
Salt and black pepper
1.2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons butter
1.2 cup bread crumbs, preferably fresh

1. If you're in a hurry, preheat the oven to 400°F (if you're not, wait until the meat rests at the end of Step 2). Season the shoulder well on both sides with salt and pepper. Mix together the parsley and half the garlic. Slather a couple heaping spoonfuls of the parsley-garlic mixture into the middle of the shoulder (where the bone once was), massage it in, and tie the shoulder into a roast. (Don't worry about technique-just wind some butcher's twine 2 or 3 times around the length of the roast, then a few times around the width, and tie it off.)

2. Use a thin-bladed knife to cut some small slits in the lamb and push pinches of parsley-garlic mixture into them; rub the lamb all over with any that remains. If you have the time, let the lamb sit, for an hour or more (refrigerate if it will be longer).

3. Put the lamb in a roasting pan or large ovenproof skillet and put it in the oven. Check it after 40 minutes; it's ready when slightly firm to the touch and about 130°F on an instant-read thermometer for medium-rare. Transfer the shoulder to a cutting board to rest for at least 10 minutes while you make flavored bread crumbs.

4. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the fat from the pan, then put it on the stove over medium heat; add the remaining garlic and the butter. When the garlic is fragrant and beginning to soften, add the bread crumbs and stir them around to color lightly and absorb the juices in the pan. (Use within a couple minutes of cooking them, or pour the bread crumbs out onto a baking sheet and reheat for 1 to 2 minutes in the oven when you're ready to carve the lamb.)

5. Serve the shoulder sliced, with the bread crumbs sprinkled over the top.