Trim the fat from 1 shoulder of young lamb. Peel, wash, and thinly slice 4 carrots and 2 stalks of celery. Peel 4 red onions and cut into small wedges.
Preheat the oven to 300°F. Heat a flameproof casserole dish with a splash of olive oil and brown the shoulder on all sides. Take it out, throw away the cooking fat, wipe the casserole dish clean, and put it back on the heat with an additional splash of olive oil.
Put in half the vegetables and sweat for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring. Add 3 squashed garlic cloves, 12 sage leaves, and 8 peppercorns, mix well, and return the shoulder of lamb to the casserole dish. Pour in 1 1/4 cups of red wine and reduce by half. Then add 1 1/4 cups of chicken stock, cover the casserole dish with a lid, and put in the oven for 2 1/2 hours, basting the shoulder from time to time. Take out the casserole dish. Remove the shoulder, wrap it in aluminum foil, and keep warm. Keep the casserole dish on hand.
Shortly before the end of cooking the lamb, put 3/4 cup of pearl barley to soak for 10 minutes.
Heat another casserole dish with a splash of olive oil, put in the rest of the vegetables, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring. Drain the pearl barley and add to the vegetables. Stir, season with salt, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes.
Take a ladleful of the cooking liquid from the lamb casserole dish and pour it into the barley casserole dish. Let it swell with the liquid and cook for 15 to 18 minutes, adding more of the liquid as and when it is absorbed.
Peel 12 fresh almonds and add them at the end of cooking with a splash of olive oil. Stir and check the seasoning.
Cut the shoulder into large pieces and return them to their casserole dish. Add the contents of the other casserole dish and a generous twist of freshly ground black pepper and serve in the casserole dish.
Photo credit: Relish
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