(Adapted from the Barbacoa de Borrego recipe in The Tex-Mex Grill)
Expect strange looks when you invite people over some delicious barbecued mutton. Back in the day, what we now call lamb was known as mutton. (In Australia, it’s lamb up to one year of age, then it becomes hogget in its second year, and finally mutton in its old age.)
If lamb sounds better than mutton, then why do people freak out about eating veal? Are baby sheep less cute than baby cows, or what?
Anyway, this will give you something to think about for the five or six hours that it will take you to make this spectacular barbecued mutton (or barbecued lamb if you insist).
Recipe follows the jump.
Square-cut lamb shoulder roast, 7-8 pounds
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
For the broth:
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 celery stalks, cleaned and chopped
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
14.5 ounce can stewed tomatoes
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 serrano chiles, stemmed and cut in half
Leaves from 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, cleaned and chopped
Leaves from 3 sprigs fresh thyme, cleaned and chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Mustard Barbecue Sauce
Rinse the meat and pat dry. Combine the salt, pepper and thyme. Rub the meat with seasonings and allow to marinate for an hour while comes to room temperature. Light about 25 charcoal briquettes in a chimney and prepare a grill with the coals on one side only. Brown the lamb roast over the hot fire for 10 to 15 minutes, turning often, until well browned. Move it to the cool side of the grill or to the smoking chamber of an offset barbecue smoker. Put some hardwood chips or chunks on the coals and close the lid. Allow the roast to smoke for three hours at around 250 degrees turning to cook evenly.
In a soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onions and celery. Stir and cook for five minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and cook another few minutes. Add the remaining vegetables and herbs and 8 cups of water and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn down the heat and allow to simmer while the lamb smokes.
Add more charcoal and wood to the fire. Place a metal roasting pan on the grill directly over the coals. Carefully pour the broth into the roasting pan. Place the meat in the roasting pan with the soup. Allow the meat to simmer and smoke for an hour to an hour and half, replenishing the liquid level if needed.
With the aid of fire gloves or pot holders, remove the pan from the fire and cover the roast and the roasting pan with aluminum foil and seal tightly. Return to the fire. Simmer over the coals for another hour until the meat is tender. You want the shape to be intact, but the meat to be very soft.
Reserve the broth. Clean the meat away from the bones and chop lightly. Serve the cleaned meat with crusty bread, Mustard Barbecue Sauce and the broth on the side. You can also serve some of the broth in a cup as a first course.