Winter BBQ - Lamb Shoulder

by Oliver Hagen July 19, 2015 3 min read

Winter BBQ - Lamb Shoulder

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With a brief break in the weather, I’ve noticed a few people in the area dusting off the old BBQ and firing it up as if trying to train the sun with positive encouragement.

While it might be a stretch to go as far as sausages chops and prawns, there are still some distinctly winter-like BBQ options.

It’s certainly been a couple of months since I got the kettle-charcoal BBQ out and went to the trouble of cleaning out ashes and tending embers, but the flavour is always worth it.

I had a few errands to run this afternoon so I wanted a piece of meat that would be forgiving as I knew I wouldn’t be able to watch it closely. Something I could leave alone with the charcoal for hours and still yield a flavoursome BBQ dish for a cold but clear winter evening.

Having conferred with Davey Snags - our butcher at the Prahran Market. I picked up a lamb shoulder unadulterated, with the bone in.

The recipe is simple: time and smoke. Aside from salt, other trickery is optional.

For a marinade I turned to the lamb lovers:

  • Garlic
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Lemon juice and rind
  • Olive Oil
  • Rosemary
  • Anchovies

With the marinade don’t waste any time soaking the joint overnight etc, the smoke will do that for you, instead just use that same time to cook it longer - in my opinion 90% of people don’t cook shoulders long enough.

If you’re trying to make shoulder the texture of rare leg, then sure cook it for 3 hours. But if you want it to present as it should; soft flavourful, stringy and fatless then 5-7 hours will serve you well. Not to mention the pain those of you who aren’t qualified butchers will have carving the complex undercooked shoulder.. better to cook it slow and low then simply lift the bone out of it and break it apart with your hands or two forks.

When you’ve made a marinade, try to keep it chunky, so you can grab hunks of it to push down the many seams of the shoulder.

See the pic here, the clear lines between the complex muscle shoulders, if you push your index finger firmly on those seams they will open up, presenting ideal pockets for your marinade mix. I also like to score the top (fat side) of the shoulder, because it looks good and allows the otherwise smooth surface to catch more of the rosemary and garlic.

Once you’ve got your BBQ going, it’s fine to start the shoulder while the flames are still young, so long as you shift them to one side and protect the bottom side of the lamb with some foil. I like to curl the foil around the outer (cold side) to keep the heat and smoke in too. The only other trick is fat side up, this will keep the joint self-basting. With all the good stuff sandwiched between the rib bones and top fat layer it won’t need baby-sitting.

Now just forget about it, keep it fairly hot - mine was just quietly sizzling when I listened.

Here it is at hour 3, easily edible. But knowing what I know, I’ll keep going ;)

It should be obvious why there are no finishing photos. The salt-bush lamb was beautifully sweet and smokey. I served with a sharp and acidic rocket salad to balance the rich meat, BBQ’d leek and courgette.  

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