Slow-barbecued Lamb Shoulder
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    Serves 6 as a main course
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We absolutely love this dish. Most of the time we associate barbecuing with cooking food fairly quickly over a pretty high heat, but with this recipe the shoulder of lamb is cooked over a very low barbecue heat for a long period of time. This results in deliciously moist and succulent meat. Yum!

We have a ceramic barbecue with a lid (a Big Green Egg barbecue – it’s fantastic!) and this enables us to control the heat and get it nice and low when we need to. Closing the barbecue lid also helps the barbecue to, in effect, become an oven. The result is fantastic flavourful, smoky barbecued meat. You might think that the meat will become dry during cooking, but trust me, if you manage to control the temperature and keep the lamb covered for the majority of the cooking time, it will be lovely, succulent and flaky when you come to serve it. Please note that this recipe is best cooked on a barbecue (with a lid and vents) that has a temperature gauge attached.

This recipe is what I call an ultimate party dish, because you can start the barbecue early in the morning and then leave your joint of meat to cook slowly throughout the day (checking it occasionally), while you get on with your daily chores, then when your guests arrive in the evening, the meat is ready. Simple but so effective!photo of Slow-barbecued Lamb ShoulderPhoto of Slow-barbecued Lamb Shoulderphoto of Slow-barbecued Lamb Shoulder

Ingredients & Method

  • ¼ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons mild curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground mace
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 large onions, cut into 1cm-thick slices
  • 1.4–1.6kg lamb shoulder (prepared weight), bone removed and tied with butcher’s string

This recipe is best cooked on a barbecue (with a lid and vents) that has a temperature gauge attached, so start by preheating the barbecue to about 160°C.

Using a pestle and mortar, pound all the spices, the salt, garlic and herbs together to make a paste.

Place a large piece of foil on the work surface. Place the sliced onions in the centre of the foil, place the lamb on top and then rub the spice mix all over the lamb. Bring up the sides of the foil around the lamb and seal at the top, enclosing the lamb in a sealed parcel.

Place the lamb parcel over the preheated barbecue (starting at about 160°C), cover with the lid and cook for 9 hours in total. For the first hour of cooking, keep the temperature at around 160°C, then close the vents and let the temperature gradually drop and cool to around 80°C (it will take about 2 hours for the barbecue to gradually cool to this temperature) and keep it at this temperature for the next 7 hours or so. Towards the end of the cooking time (for the last hour or so), unwrap the meat, pulling back the foil partway and exposing half of the lamb, baste the meat with the cooking juices, and then open the barbecue vents, allowing the temperature to gradually increase back up to 160°C. This will result in a golden brown and caramelised crust on the lamb and the meat will be deliciously tender and flaky.

Once cooked, remove the lamb from the barbecue and wrap it in a clean piece of foil, then leave it to rest for 20 minutes. To serve, use 2 forks to shred the meat, then serve it with freshly baked Homemade Flatbreads, Cucumber Yogurt Salad and Barbecued Curried Whole Cauliflower.

Cook’s Note

To cook the lamb in the oven (instead of barbecuing it), preheat the oven to 140°C/Gas Mark 1. Place the foil-wrapped lamb on a roasting tray and cook it in the oven for 8 hours, then increase the oven temperature to 160°C/Gas Mark 3, unwrap the foil as per the recipe above and cook for a further 1 hour or until the crust becomes caramelised and golden brown and the meat is cooked, tender and flaky.