Slow Smoked Leg of Lamb

It’s after Easter here in Massachusetts and the weather held out long enough this past Sunday to allow me a whole day of barbecuing. And since it’s after Easter that means there is a good amount of leftover lamb on sale. I went out and got a 4.5 lb Australian leg, which with a prodigious amount of garlic and time, produced some fine pulled lamb.

For a breakdown on the process be sure to check out the video on YouTube, I go into more detail there. But I’ll put up a couple screenshots to give you a preview:

meat

First step was making a series of cuts into the meat. Normally I would have trimmed any excess fat, but surprisingly this leg wasn’t nearly as fatty as other Australian products. Typically if I’m making a lamb roast, bringing it to a medium rare internal temp of 140, I’ll get American lamb which is much leaner. But since this one will cook for 8 hours and render most of that fat out, it doesn’t really matter.

paste

Next I made a marinade, which was really more of a paste. I used a garlic paste I found at my local grocery store, which is basically just pureed raw garlic. It’s refrigerated in the produce section, and it’s great for when you don’t want to be pounding a head of garlic in a mortar and pestle forever. The rest is pretty simple, some thyme, oregano, salt, pepper, and good olive oil to bring it all together. I didn’t measure any of this out, just went by eyeball.

meat2

I took that marinade paste and packed it into those cuts I made earlier. This will allow some of that flavor to penetrate deeper into this bigger cut of meat. Once the whole leg was covered I put it in a Ziplock and tossed it in the fridge for 12 hours. It could definitely go longer, but I didn’t have the time.

grill

So (very) early the next morning I set up my grill for indirect cooking. I banked a bunch of unlit charcoal on one side, and as you can see I’ve upgraded my rig with some bricks. These act as a heat sink, moderating the temperature fluctuations I was getting using just a plain pile of coals. I found I could lower the vents way down and conserve charcoal by having these. For the whole 8 hours I used about a chimney and a half of coal total, topping up once. I found adding a drip tray actually cut down on the airflow under the meat as well, which kept the charcoal from flaring up when the wind got gusty.

finished

After 5 hours on the smoke (I used a couple chunks of apple for this cook) the leg was looking good, the color was dark but not totally black, the bark was set, but it still wasn’t pull apart tender. I put it in a foil pan, covered with aluminum foil, and put it back out on the heat for another 3 hours. Temperatures for the cook went from around 270 F at the highest to about 230 F at the lowest.

Be sure to check out the video for the whole process and to see how easily it pulls. I put together some pita sandwiches with it, complete with cucumber salad and tzatziki. It also works really well over some basmati rice with some grape tomatoes.

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