Lamb shoulder may not be the most classic of meat joints but throw it on the bbq with a little smoke and a harissa rub and you will produce mouthwatering results that friends won’t quickly forget. Every bite explodes with wonderful spicy flavours and the succulent fatty lamb melts on the tongue.
I’d been wanting to slow smoke and then pull a lamb shoulder for a while so when I was asked by a friend to throw together a starter for dinner at theirs I immediately jumped at the chance. Our first thoughts had been far eastern spicy lamb wontons – and describing the whole thought process that took us from that to pulled harissa lamb shoulder with spiced flatbreads and tzatziki would take far too long, but safe to say, we managed to go from South East Asia to North Africa with a touch of Greece thrown in!
The lamb was superb. It smelt amazing, pulled beautifully and the harissa spices complemented each other on so many levels. North African food has long been something I wanted to get into and this did nothing but whet my appetite even more!
Worked beautifully with moroccan spiced flatbreads and a tzatziki – and both can be made while the lamb is smoking!
Give yourself plenty of time to cook; ideally, if you can, prepare the harissa the day before and marinade the lamb shoulder overnight. And then get it on the bbq with more time than you think. The longer it cooks, think 6-7 hours, the better it will be and you can rest it for a couple of hours if need be. We ate ours as a starter and then finished off the leftovers post dessert – it was even better!
what you’ll need
Equipment: smoker/bbq with lid. Roasting dish to marinade. Pestle and mortar. Small frying pan. Aluminium foil.
harissa lamb shoulder:
- lamb shoulder
- olive oil
- 2 sprigs of rosemary
for the harissa:
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp coriander seeds
- 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
- 1/2 tsp caraway seeds
- 1 tsp black pepper corns
- 1/2 cinnamon stick, broken up
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 tbsp olive oil
Toss your cinnamon, black pepper and cumin, coriander, fennel and caraway seeds into a dry frying pan and toast over a medium heat till fragrant.
Pour into a pestle and mortar and grind.
Throw in the rest of your harissa ingredients and mix together.
Score the skin. Splash a little olive oil over the lamb and sprinkle over a pinch of salt. Using half the harissa on each side, rub evenly into the lamb. Wrap in foil and leave in a roasting dish in the fridge over night.
Bring the bbq up to 120/140C indirect with the plates in. Take your lamb out the fridge while your bbq heats up to bring to room temperature.
Toss in a couple of sprigs of rosemary just before cooking.
Place you lamb on the centre of your grill.
…after 3 hours…
Slow smoke for 6-7 hours, spritzing with an olive oil/cointreau mix occasionally. (You are looking for an internal temp of 90C for the lamb to pull. But it will still taste delicious if you have to take it off a little earlier.)
Wrap in foil and rest for 30 minutes to an hour before pulling.