Slow-Smoked Shoulder of Lamb
This recipe is a barbecue adaptation of one of our favourite roast recipes from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Everyday. For more information about barbecuing, I have written another post with advice about types of barbecues, cooking styles, fuels, and more.
Two words of warning:
Ideally, you will need an offset smoker for this recipe. This is a kind of barbeque with two separate cooking chambers: a smaller firebox, and a larger main barbecue chamber, with a thermometer on the lid and a chimney. The following recipe has been written with this type of smoker in mind.
The recipe takes at least seven and a half hours, and you will be spending most of that time with or near your smoker. You will therefore need to plan ahead: if you want to be eating in the early afternoon, you’ll want to start firing the smoker at 5am.
a good quantity of dry (but not kiln dried) wood (ideally cherry or apple) chopped into small logs
a small pile of dry kindling
some scrunched-up newspaper
a spray bottle
a small shovel for moving the fire
a meat thermometer
a whole, 2kg bone-in shoulder of lamb, hogget or mutton
for the spice rub
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
2 tsp sea salt flakes
2 tbsp olive oil
for the spritz
Begin by preheating your indoor oven to 220*C.
While the oven is preheating, get the smoker firebox lit, using a small pile of kindling and newspaper, and gradually adding smaller logs once the kindling is burning. Then add a larger log. Keep an eye on the thermometer: you want to get the temperature steadily between 120*C-140*C. You will be slowly adding logs now to keep the temperature in this range as much as possible.
To make the spice rub, heat the peppercorns and cumin, coriander and fennel seeds in a dry frying-pan until fragrant, grind them, and mix with the salt and the olive oil. Cut shallow slashes into the upper surface of the lamb shoulder, and spread half of the rub over the meat, pushing it into the cuts. Once the oven has preheated, roast for 30 minutes.
Fill a spray bottle with half cider vinegar and half water, and set aside for later.
Remove the meat from the oven, apply the other half of the spice rub using a spoon, and then transfer the meat to the preheated smoker.
Cook for 3 hours, adding more logs as needed, maintaining a steady temperature of 120*C-140*C by using the shovel to either push the fire towards the back of the firebox (and closer to the meat) to raise the temperature, or pull it towards the front of the firebox (away from the meat) to lower the temperature. Spritz the lamb with the cider vinegar-and-water mix every 45 minutes.
After 3 hours, wrap the lamb shoulder tightly in a double layer of tin foil, and return it to the smoker for between 3-5 hours, until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 95*C-98*C. Once it has reached the desired temperature remove from the smoker and rest for 45 minutes.
Shred the meat, and serve with the juices that have accumulated in the foil wrapping.