Lamb is undoubtedly our national meat dish in Australia.
I believe it’s an underestimated meat in the US, but done like I’ve done it here, with a fantastic smoky eggplant baba ganoush and a chimichurri-style sauce, I think you’ll fall in love with it as well!
This dish combines Mediterranean-style wraps with a Middle Eastern flavor in the Baba Ganoush (smoked eggplant) and a South American chimichurri-style sauce.
The smokiness of the eggplant enhances the lamb, while the dressing’s freshness and acidity cut through the richness of the lamb brilliantly.
- How to make pulled lamb shoulder
- Making the Baba Ganoush & Chimichurri
- Pulling and serving the lamb
- What is the best cut of lamb to smoke?
- What temperature do you smoke lamb?
- Do you smoke lamb shoulder fat side up or down?
- How do you keep lamb moist in a smoker?
- How long should you smoke lamb for?
- Do you spritz lamb when smoking?
- What temp does lamb fall apart?
- Does lamb stall when smoking?
- What goes well with smoked lamb?
- Do you leave the fat on a rack of lamb?
How to make pulled lamb shoulder
For this dish, I use a lamb shoulder since it has a perfect fat ratio for smoking, similar to a pig shoulder, or Boston Butt.
Lamb is a delightfully full-flavored, gamey meat that holds up nicely to the herb rub that I use here.
The rub I use also gives the lamb a fantastic bark.
The nice thing about smoking lamb shoulder is that it is so forgiving that it is tough to go wrong.
It’s almost hard to overcook this, and the only way to screw it up is to undercook it.
But if you use this approach, you’ll appear like an incredible Pitmaster, and your friends and family will want you to prepare it again!
What you’ll need
The nicest part about this recipe is that, apart than a low and slow smoker, you’ll just need a food processor for the baba ganoush and a few other basic ingredients.
I used store-bought pita bread, but if you really want to impress, bake your own Greek pita style flatbreads. If you want to try making these yourself, here’s a video to teach you how:
Making the rub
As I previously said, you can go very heavy with this rub since the lamb will hold up to some really strong tastes, and it will acquire a gorgeous black bark.
The rub is incredibly easy and incorporates herbs that go so nicely with lamb.
Because I eat a lot of lamb, I prepare this rub in quantity. You will need dried mint, dried rosemary, dried oregano, salt, and pepper.
The mint, rosemary, and oregano should be used in a 2:1:1 ratio in the rub, with about half the quantity of salt and pepper.
Don’t worry too much about getting the precise amounts perfect.
Preparing the lamb
Your lamb shoulder should be bone-in and skin-off, which is precisely what you want.
There’s not much more you can do with it after that except cut any thick, hard bits of fat on your shoulder.
Drizzle olive oil over your lamb shoulder. This is only a binder for your rub, and you may substitute some American mustard if desired.
Cover your whole shoulder with the lamb rub, and go heavy on it if you like.
It’s also a good time to prepare your eggplant, which is a little tricky, so pay care. Prick the eggplant all over with the point of a sharp knife. Done.
Smoking the lamb
At this stage, you should prepare your smoker by setting it at roughly 250-275F.
As I previously said, lamb is really forgiving, so you don’t need to be too accurate, but just stay within that range. It’s OK if the temperature rises above 300°F.
You will be forgiven by Lamb. I use Australian Ironbark for the smoking wood, mostly because I use a huge reverse flow offset smoker, but I’ve also used Peach, Plum, and Cherry with lamb, and they all taste great.
You may use more powerful woods, like as hickory, if you wish, but I think that lighter, sweeter woods work best to allow the taste of the lamb truly shine.
Once I’m satisfied with the bark, I cover my shoulder with peach paper and spray it with apple cider vinegar and water every 45 minutes or so.
If you can’t get peach paper, wrap in aluminum foil. At this temperature, the lamb shoulder should cook in around 7 hours, but check on it often with an instant-read thermometer like a Thermapen.
It’ll be ready when it probes like butter with a metal spear all over the shoulder, which should be approximately 205-210F.
Leave it for a little longer if certain portions are still not probing like a hot knife into butter. As I previously said, it is quite tough to destroy, and it will not be dry.
Put your eggplant on the smoker at the same time as your lamb if you wish to follow my serving advice. It will take around three hours to cook your eggplant, so take it out when it looks like a banana that has been lying on your kitchen work table for three weeks and feels like a melted ice cream sandwich still in its paper wrapper.
While it may not seem appealing, trust me when I tell it will be great after we complete it!
Making the Baba Ganoush & Chimichurri
After your eggplant has been smoking for a few hours, it’s time to prepare your baba ganoush.
Allow the eggplant to cool somewhat before splitting it lengthwise, scooping out all of the flesh, and placing it in a food processor.
Add the tahini (a sesame seed paste common in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine) and three minced garlic cloves.
Squeeze in some lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Blend with a sprinkle of olive oil until the consistency of hummus is reached. Place in a bowl, cover with cling film, and refrigerate until required.
Making the chimichurri (style) dressing
Purists will cry that this isn’t a chimichurri, and I understand. However, it is based on a chimichurri.
It sounds like a mix between that and a Spanish mojo.
Whatever you want to call it, its delicious!
You’ll need a bunch of flat leaf parsley, the same quantity of cilantro, a garlic clove or two, 1 teaspoon cumin, 3 tablespoons olive oil, and 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar.
Finely chop the parsley and cilantro, and mince the garlic. Then, season the garlic with salt and pound it to a pulp using the back of a knife or a mortar and pestle. If you like, you may use store-bought garlic paste.
In a mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste. And it’s that simple.
Pulling and serving the lamb
It’s time to remove your lamb after a decent rest (keep covered in foil and towel in a coolbox for an hour or more).
You’ll know it’s finished when the bone slides out with no resistance.
Pull the lamb into bite-sized bits using gloved hands (it will still be quite hot) or two forks.
I like pieces over going all out and pulling it like pulled pork. That way, you get some fatty, gamey meat texture while keeping the bark intact, and each bite means you get a little bit of texture and flavor of everything!
Lightly toast the pitas on both sides on a hot griddle pan, or prepare them as shown in the video if creating your own.
Mojo-inspired dressing on top. Instead of being crisp, they should be warm and velvety. Spread baba ganoush along the middle, then pile on the pulled lamb and sprinkle with chimichurri.
Wrap the pita (depending on how liberal you were with the lamb) and dig in. I also add some finely sliced red chile and red onion, but this is entirely optional. Fold
Serve with a nice beer during your Big Fat Greek Wedding or whenever you like.
A wheat beer like Hoegaarden would go fantastically well with this. Serve with fries, then dip any remaining warm pita bread into leftover baba ganoush. Greetings, buddy!