5 – 8
5 – 6 hours(Approx)
Easy – Medium
Lamb Shoulder is a hard working part of the animal, resulting in high internal marbling and a layer of fat on top. When cooked correctly over a long period of time, the fat renders down and pairs perfectly with the rich flavour of the meat. This produces delicious, tender & juicy pull apart lamb.
The shoulder is available Bone-In or Boneless. The technique below refers to a Bone-in shoulder as the bone itself imparts additional flavour whilst cooking. A boneless cut can be used instead, however the cook time will be reduced slightly.
Our lamb shoulders normally do not require any trimming. The top layer of fat needs to stay on, any excess fat or loose pieces of meat may be removed with a knife, but minimal work is necessary. You can pull off the small amount of membrane from the bones underneath like you would pork ribs, using a butter knife to slide under the membrane, then kitchen towel to pull the rest off. This step is not crucial, however it does help the seasoning penetrate that area of the meat.
Use a light coating of Dijon mustard all over the lamb as a binder for your rub of choice. (See notes for recommendations) Apply liberally all over the shoulder, patting the rub into the meat on all sides. Allow to sit for a few hours, giving time for the spices to penetrate and impart flavour into the meat.
When the temperature is stable and the meat has absorbed the rub for a few hours, place the shoulder onto the barbecue bone side down with the meat facing the fire/heat source. Leave untouched for 2 hours, then check the surface of the lamb for any dry areas. Spritz with water if necessary and continue cooking for another 45 minutes to an hour, repeat the process and cook for a further 45 minutes to an hour. TL@A TIP – Ensure the nozzle of the spritz bottle is set to a light mist and not a jet once the trigger if pressed!
After approximately 4 hours into the cook, the rub should be set on the meat, forming the bark. A good way to test this is touching the surface with your finger and if the rub doesn’t come off, you know it has set. (If the rub comes off, continue to cook for 30 minutes and test again) At this stage, it’s also time to check the internal temperature of the lamb. This can be done with an instant read thermometer, or a temp probe supplied with your BBQ. It should be around 165-170f/74-77c. With the bark set and the internal temperature within range, it’s time to wrap.
Using 2 layers of thick aluminium foil, add 2 knobs of butter, place the lamb bone side down onto the foil and wrap the shoulder tightly. Place back onto the BBQ in the same position as before, bone side down and continue cooking at 275f/135c.
Once the lamb is back on the BBQ, the temperature can be increased to 300f/150c to help speed the cook up, however, it is not necessary if time is not an issue. After 1 hour cooking post wrap, probe the lamb in 2 different spots. It should be around 195f-200f/90-94c. Once it reaches this range, begin checking every 20 minutes until the probe slides in and out of the shoulder without resistance in both spots. When this happens, remove the lamb from the BBQ, unwrap the foil slightly and leave at room temperature for 10 minutes. This avoids steaming the lamb. Ideally it should then be recovered and rest in an insulated cooler for around 1 hour to allow the meat to relax and re absorb some of the juices.
Once rested, unwrap just the top of the foil, keeping the lamb and juices inside. Grab yourself some cotton gloves, then put a pair of nitrile gloves on top. The blade bone should come out clean and the juicy, tender meat will pull apart. Mix in the rendered fat and melted butter for some mouth watering, delicious smoked lamb to serve in wraps, with rice, salad or as part of a platter!
Choose your cut: Depending on how much time you have will help determine which cut to use. Bone-in shoulders take longer, however the bone helps flavour. A boneless shoulder will cook quicker. A heavier coat of seasoning is recommended to boost the flavour, as well as wrapping sooner to protect the meat from drying out.
Season your meat: Here are a few of our recommended Lamb Rubs.
Smoke Flavour: Depending if you are using a Pellet, Charcoal or Offset smoker, you will have different options regarding smoke flavour profile. For pellet smokers, our range of fruit wood pellets work really well with lamb, or maybe try something new with our charcoal hardwood blended pellets for a unique flavour and colour.
If using charcoal, our range of slow burn wood chunks work really well when used during a cook. 2 to 3 chunks is normally enough to get good smoke flavour for a full cook.
Wrap: Wrapping the lamb avoids the meat drying out and also allows the rendered fat to be caught. This provides amazing flavour to the pulled meat.
Doneness: The best way to judge is by feel. The probe reading will give you an indication but feel will tell you for sure (minimal resistance when sliding in and out). A probe reading between 205-210f/95-100c is normally when the lamb is ready to remove from the barbecue.