BBQ 101 – Smoked leg of lamb

DSC_1977Lamb season is fast approaching here in Norway, and bone-in leg of lamb is my favorite. I know boneless is just as good, and butterflied is much quicker, but nothing beats the visual impact of a big chunk of meat with the bone still in it for me. Maybe it’s my Nordic genes, or maybe it’s the caveman or woman in all of us wanting some satisfaction? Anyhow, I will use bone-in for this recipe, it’s just more fun that way, plus the bone-in version has to great other features: Firstly, a nice handle for turning the meat in the form of a bone, secondly a litttle chef’s snack muscle towards to thin end of the bone. So there, bone-in wins for me, every time. Note: I have to excuse the lack of a photo of the plated food in this post, but sometimes the food is so good and I am so hungry that I forget. So enjoy a ton of pics of the lamb on the grill instead…. ūüėÄ

Serving suggestion:
I like to serve leg of lamb spiced in the mediterranean way, with an aubergine purée, some red onion compote and some freshly grilled greens. You can make a sauce too from the drippings.

2014-03-28 19.53.49-1Total time: 5-8 hours, marinating the day before if you want to
Skill level: Beginner/Intermediate
Grilling method: Indirect, one-zone
Grill temperature: About 110-120 degrees centigrade (230-250F), or even lowe if you can manage

You’re going to need:

  • A leg of lamb per four people should be about right, depending on how big they are
  • Rosemary, lots of rosemary
  • Garlic, lots of garlic
  • A lemon
  • Honey
  • Mustard, a homemade one is of course best
  • Good olive oil
  • Cayenne pepper

How you do it the day before:

  • If you want to marinate the meat, you should start the day before. Mix up lemon, rosemary, honey, lots of crushed garlic, some mustard and a good olive oil in a blender. Add salt and pepper to taste, and some cayenne pepper if you want some heat (I always do)
  • If you’re lucky enough to have one of those fancy vacuum machines like I do, throw the leg in a bag with the marinade and vacuum it up, leaving it in the fridge overnight. If not, use a plastic bag, and try to cover it well in the marinade before wrapping it up and putting in the fridge.

DSC_1981How you do it on BBQ day:

  • Fire up your grill, and set it up for
  • ¬†indirect, low and slow cooking with some coals on one side, and place for the met on the other. If you want to make sauce, you’re going to need a drip pan to put under the meat to catch drippings
  • If you didn’t marinate the night before, go up a couple steps, make the marinade mix and get the meat slathered in that stuff before you put the meat on the grill. If you did, take the meat out of the bag, but save up the marinade leftovers for later.
  • Remember to get the smoke going before putting the meat on. I like to mix rosemary branches with hickory for lamb smoking.
  • Add some water to your drip pan. Not a lot, this is just to keep the drippings from burning, remember you will make that into a sauce later.
  • Add a temperature probe to the meatiest part of the leg, and add another one to the grill grate to monitor grill temperature. You don’t have a two-probe style wireless thermometer yet you say? Go and get yourself one. I have been using the Maverick ET-732 for a couple years, and it works quite well.
  • Keep the grill low and slow for hours, keeping an eye on meat and grill temp. Add aRoasted aubergine. Not quite done yet. cup of water to the drip pan if it runs out, and add coals if you need to (I don’t anymore thanks to my lovely new Primo Oval XL)
  • Once the meat reaches an internal temperature of exactly 68C (155F), take it off the grill, wrap it in a double layer of aluminium foil, and wrap that in a plastic bag, then a couple towels. Ideally you want to rest the leg for at least one hour, but if you’re done well ahead of dinner, resting it for 2-3 or even 4 hours is not a problem at all.
  • Take out the drip pan, put the sauce in a pot, and make a delicious sauce. Adding some red wine, salt and pepper to taste and reducing until you have the desired consistency is a good idea. If the sauce is too sharp, some honey might be able to help you out.
  • While you wait for the guest to arrive, you can make the sides, like aubergine pur√©e and some red onion compote
  • When you are about ready to serve, fire the grill up for direct cooking at a temp of about 150-160C (300-320F), brush the leg with any marinade leftovers, and finish the leg off over direct heat. The goal here is to get a nice sear before serving, and crisping up the outside.
  • Let the lamb rest for 5-10 minutes again, while you grill up some fresh spring oninon and/or asparagus. Serve and enjoy!DSC_1988

Lamb Chops grilled with Hickory and Rosemary smoke

Grilling and smoking lamb chops with rosemary and hickory smoke

Grilling and smoking lamb chops with rosemary and hickory smoke

There’s not much that can top some fresh young lamb for the grill. In this recipe we’ll pair it with some hickory and rosemary smoke, raw spring onions finely chopped and a delicious mint oil to go with your preferred side. Let’s roll!

What you need (to serve 4):

  • 2 racks of young lamb (3 if they’re small, and small is good here)
  • A fistful of fresh rosemary
  • A fistful of hickory wood chips
  • 6-8 spring onions
  • A cup of good olive oil of the extra virgin variety
  • A fistful of fresh mint
  • A Thermapen or similar instant-read thermometer is very useful for this one

How to make the mint oil (can be made a few days ahead, and should at least be made the night before for max flavor):

  • Finely chop the fresh mint
  • Combine with a pinch of good sea salt and about a cup of quality olive oil in a mortar, and crush away
  • Pour into a jar and leave it in the fridge overnight or for a couple days to let the oil take the flavor

How to grill the lamb:

  • Get your firestarter going, fill it up to the top with coals. For this you want the 50/50 setup so you can sear the chops on one side of the grill, and then move them over to the other side for finishing
  • Once your grill is nice and hot, might be a good time to dump some yams on there for a side dish, my recipe for ember-roasted yams¬†is great with the mint oil.
  • Slice a nice little diamond pattern in the fatty parts of the rack, making sure not to Lil' lamb chops - all ready to go go goslice into the meat. This is to help the fat render, and to help with the crispiness of the skin. Important!
  • Cut your lamb racks into “chops” in the order of two bones on each. Doing one boned chops is possible, but you’re going to need your grill to get REALLY hot to pull that off – so let’s go with two. It’s a handy compromise
  • Season the chops with salt & pepper
  • Once your yams (if youre doing those) are done and out of the way, get the grill real hot (you want the grate to be so hot it whitens for this one), and chuck in the rosemary and hickory chips right on the coals.
  • The smoke will start fairly instantly, so get your chops on there (I usually do fatty side down first), and put the lid on for about a minute. Repeat for all sides so you get a good sear all round.
  • When you’re done searing, move the chops to the “cold side” of the grill, and take their temp. Continue to do so until they’re all done (I usually go with 56C/132F, nice and pink in the middle, tastes great!)
  • Give the chops a five minute rest while you finely chop some spring onion
  • Serve on warm plates, with abovementioned yams sprinkled with mint oil and spring onion
  • Enjoy!