Pulled Barbecued American Lamb Shoulder with Lemon and Herb Fennel Slaw

Recipe provided by | Elizabeth Stark of Brooklyn Supper


American Lamb Shoulder and Rub

Zest of 2 oranges
6 cloves garlic, smashed
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons minced thyme leaves
4 pound bone-in American lamb shoulder

Fennel Slaw

2 medium fennel bulbs plus 2 tablespoons fennel fronds
1/2 cup minced red onion (about 1 large red onion)
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt plus more to taste
1/4 cup whole milk Greek yogurt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1/2 cup minced parsley

For the Citrus-Vinegar Sauce

2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon grated orange zest plus 1/2 cup fresh squeezed juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili powder


The night before, combine orange zest, garlic, and sea salt in the bowl of a mortar a pestle. Mash into a thick paste. Fold in olive oil, nutmeg, pepper, and herbs. Rub paste over lamb shoulder on all sides, taking care to really massage rub into the skin. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

To make slaw, combine fennel and red onion. In a small bowl, whisk to combine lemon juice, olive oil and sea salt. Drizzle over salad and toss. Set aside for 10 minutes. Fold in yogurt, herbs, and black pepper to taste. Cover and chill for an hour or more before serving. Slaw will keep well covered in the fridge for 3 days. Before serving, taste and add sea salt as needed.

To make sauce,
combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and cook 5 minutes, stirring often. Turn heat to medium-low; simmer 20 minutes. Pour into a container with a tight-fitting lid. Keep in fridge for up to 5 days, but allow sauce to come to room temperature before serving.

To smoke lamb shoulder, light charcoal and wait for it to become completely gray. Or, on a gas grill, set one side to 250°F.

Soak 1-pound hickory chips in water for 15 minutes, then drain.

Bank hot coals to one side of grill and place a pan of water on the other side. Allow coals to cool until ambient temperature of closed grill is 250°F as measured by a grill thermometer or a meat thermometer inserted through vent in lid.

Add a handful of hickory chips to coals or, for a gas grill, make a packet of chips in aluminum foil, poke holes in it and place it on grill. Place shoulder on grill over pan of water and close lid quickly.

Every 30 minutes, add a handful of chips or another foil packet of chips. Maintain cooking temperature within 25° of 250 by adding coals to bring temperature up or closing vents to bring it down.

Smoke until shoulder is very tender with a thick crust on the outside and internal temperature of 190°F, about 5 – 6 hours.

Remove to cutting board, rest 10 minutes, and pull lamb into bite-sized pieces. Serve on buns with citrus-vinegar sauce and fennel slaw
Notes on smoking: No matter what kind of grill you are using, it’s essential to keep grill closed as much as possible so the temperature remains steady and smoke doesn’t escape too quickly.

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SERVINGS: 6-8 Servings