I have had a nice Australian lamb shoulder in my freezer for a while and was wondering when to get it out. So when we decided to go camping this weekend and it also happens to be Easter – it’s tradition in our family to have lamb on Easter weekend – I thought, why not?!
Mr Peckish pointed out that it was rather large to put on our usual home made BBQ on the beach. But no, this is far too good a piece of meat to just put on the BBQ! We’re going to dig a pit, bedouin style. This is going to be my British nod to the local Middle Eastern version of lamb ouzi.
Of course, the guys were up for digging pits, making fire and using a shovel, so they were more than willing participants to help in this plan for producing a roast lamb for dinner.
Two nights before we left I took the meat out of the freezer to defrost. In the morning I poured over rosemary, pepper and Anglesea Salt. I also sectioned about 6 cloves of garlic and squished some in the ends of the rolled joint and left some loose around it in the bag. I didn’t want to push the garlic actually into cut incisions of the meat like so many others do as I find it can be quite overpowering. The garlic should just be a subtle scent, not permeate the whole flavour. I did ponder about the salt drawing out too much moisture from the meat, but at this point I didn’t want to add the olive oil and lemon juice in case it leaked out the bag into the cool box. Oil all over everything would not be a good thing! So practicality won over.
I added olive oil and the juice from half a lemon onto the lamb in the morning. At 2pm while the sun was blazing overhead, Steve kindly dug a perfectly circular pit deep enough. There was much debate about starting the fire directly in the pit or on the side first and then moving it in. How much wood should we use, how much coal? In the end Hussain started a wood fire in the pit, Steve on the side with wood and coals and they then pooled resources. I only had one bag of coal, so that was that! Then we waited for the flames to go down before adding the meat.
Off we went to play in the sea with our waboba in the mean time.
I wrapped the meat in 6 layers of foil, ensuring the juices would be retained and that no sand would be able to get in. We made a space for it in the middle of the white hot coal embers and nestled the package amongst them about 3pm. Hussain suggested a layer of foil over the top as an additional blocking layer to help keep the sand out – good thinking! And then we piled sand over the top.
We all agreed we would rather have juicy pink lamb instead of an overcooked roast so we decided to take it out just after 8pm. The pit didn’t feel that hot when I placed my palm over the top sand layer, but Steven kindly stuck his finger in and quickly pulled it back out! It was definitely hot!
Hussain and Steve carefully spaded the sand away. Our package of roast lamb was carefully lifted out onto a foil tray. Oooo, the smell – so divine it was making us salivate!!
I was worried that it didn’t feel hot enough, but we thought it best to check it anyway just in case. We could always put it back in the pit if we needed to.
As we peeled the layers away, Laura held the tray for the juices to be emptied into, Dan was helping to roll the hot joint as he had gloves on, Steven pulled the layers filled with juice out as they came off, Hussain shone his torch so we could see. Team work!
All plans of letting the meat rest went out the window!
It smelt sooooo good and on taste testing it was melt in the mouth, juicy, flavoursome and simply delicious. It was so tender and soft that cutting the meat wasn’t that necessary (well, that, plus all our camping knives were quite short!) so we ended up shredding it and pulling it apart – think pulled lamb. Yuuuuum.
The lamb shoulder should have fed about 8 people apparently. We were only 5, but we managed to demolish the lot and leave some for Max, our camp dog. I served it with home made minty yoghurt, bonfire roasts, coleslaw and beetroot and mint dip. I think the silence while we ate around the bonfire said it all.
This was a real winner both for taste, oven novelty and ease of cooking while out in the wild – a definite option for future camping trips. Must try!
Lamb shoulder, boneless (3kg)
Two tablespoons of rosemary
A shake of good quality salt
10 turns of the pepper grinder
6 cloves of garlic, quartered lengthways
Juice of half a lemon
Good glug of decent olive oil
Massage in and leave in a fridge overnight / half a day
Bring to room temperature
Wrap in 6 layers of aluminium foil making sure every millimetre is covered and solidly tucked in
Put in a BBQ oven (you could also use a BBQ with a cover)
Roast for 5 hours, depending on the weight of your joint and how you prefer your meat
Rest it if you can, covered in clean foil for 20 minutes
If you can’t resist and you’re tastebuds are tingling….
Unwrap carefully and enjoy the fruits of your efforts – it is so worth it!
What’s your favourite way to cook lamb? In the oven, on a BBQ or in a pit?!
If you’d like to watch the videos of our pit excavation and how it looked when we opened it up – check these out….
http://cottonwoodsteakhouse.com/image-19/ Getting it out of the pit
http://pinehillfarmlancaster.com/5-3/ Unwrapping the foil
The big reveal