I was inspired by a self confessed ‘Food Adventurer’ called James Brooks that I was fortunate enough to meet at a TOP SECRET event we both attended for Shark Ninja. It was at this event where James cooked up this dish and although I’ve tweaked things to suit my own cooking style . . . much of the credit sits firmly with his good self.
Anyway . . . let’s do this!
Lamb Shoulder Prep
For this recipe I purchased a whole boneless lamb shoulder joint from Village Butchers which, for 1.8kg, set me back £34.99.
The de-boned joint arrives tied up so I carefully score the fat on top to allow the butter / herbs the opportunity to penetrate further into the joint and help with the formation of the bark / crust.
Next place the lamb joint on a baking tray and sprinkle sea salt all over. Once you’re done place the lamb in the fridge whilst you prepare the herby butter.
Note: We’re not going to put any salt in the rub, so don’t worry about things tasting too salty.
Herb Infused Butter
To prepare the herb infused butter take the following:
- 1 Tablespoon fresh finely chopped Parsley
- 1 Tablespoon fresh finely chopped Rosemary
- 1 Tablespoon fresh finely chopped Thyme
- 2 Tablespoons fresh finely chopped Sage
And dry fry them, over a medium heat, for 30 seconds to 1 minute . . . keep stirring . . . we don’t want them burning.
Next add 120g unsalted butter to the pan and keep stirring until it’s melted at which point pour into a dish and return to the fridge to allow it to solidify again.
Coating the Lamb
Once the lamb has been in the fridge for around 30 minutes take it out and sprinkle with an equal measure of black pepper and garlic powder mix.
Next take the solidified butter, mix it up in your hands a little and then cover the lamb all over.
That’s the prep done!
Smoking the Lamb
Set up your smoker to run at a temp of 250°F (120°C) with a little apple wood – I often use my Kamado Joe – Classic III for this cook as I can easily raise the temperatures later to bake the Focaccia. In terms of fuel I rely on Charcoal Guru Marabu for any long cooks . . . today this held temp for 9 hours solid and still had fuel left for another cook.
Note: Lamb is quite fatty, so I always use a drip pan underneath with a little apple juice at the start . . . not sure what difference the apple juice makes . . . but it seems like a good idea.
Once you’ve got your probes / thermometers in place and the lamb is on . . . close down that lid and leave things alone for around 4 hours at which point it’s worth taking a look to see how things are getting on.
At this stage I’m looking for two things . . . the colour / bark formation and the internal temperature. If I’m happy with the bark and the internal temperature is around 170°F (77°C) I tightly wrap in foil with a splash of apple cider vinegar and place back in the smoker.
Note: Make sure you wrap tightly . . . we don’t want any steam to form.
Finish Cooking the Lamb
With your probe / thermometers in place keep an eye on the internal temperature of the lamb . . . we don’t need to do anything else until we’re hitting a temperature of around 200°F (93°C) at which point we need check the tenderness.
We’re looking for little / no resistance when we insert a probe . . . this will usually happen between 200°F (93°C) and 205°F (96°C).
Once you are happy remove from the smoker, wrap in a towel and let rest in a cool box for at least an hour.
Preparing the Focaccia Dough
In a large bowl add the following ingredients:
- 500g Strong White Bread Flour
- 10g Dry Active Yeast
And give things a quick stir to distribute the yeast evenly.
Form a well in the middle of the flour and add the following:
- 400g Warm Water (around 100°F / 38°C)
- 10g Honey
- 10g Salt
- 1 Tablespoon Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Stir / Mix the dough with your hands for around 1 minute until a nice wet dough is formed.
Using a dough scraper transfer the dough to a lightly oiled mixing bowl. As this is a high hydration dough it’s not the easiest to handle . . . so instead of kneading we fold the dough around 5 times by pinching at the outside and bringing into the centre.
Cover with a wet towel (or cling film) and leave for 20 minutes
After 20 minutes uncover the dough and fold again before recovering. Repeat this cover / fold process a total of 3 times.
Finally cover the bowl tightly with cling film and either leave in a warm place for a few hours – or place in the fridge overnight . . . the dough should roughly double in size.
Getting Ready to Bake
Once the dough has risen grab a high-sided baking tray and line with baking paper.
Drizzle some quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil over the baking paper and ensure it’s coated. Next transfer the dough to the tray and gently press / stretch the dough to ensure the tray is completely covered.
Note: If the dough is too sticky simply wet your fingers a little.
Next cover the dough with a wet towel / cling film and place somewhere warm for about an hour.
After an hour drizzle some Extra Virgin Olive Oil over the dough and proceed to make dimples in the dough with your fingers . . . gently pressing down to the base of the tray.
Next cover the dough again with a wet towel / cling film and place somewhere warm for about an hour.
Finally add your toppings of choice . . . I went for:
- Fresh rosemary leaves
- Quality Halloumi Cheese
- 3-4 Pinches flaked salt
- Handful of halved cherry tomatoes
- Drizzle of quality extra virgin olive oil
Baking the Focaccia
Place the dough into your oven / BBQ at a temp of 450°F (230°c) and bake for around 20 minutes until it’s golden in colour and the internal temp is 195°F (90°C).
Once you are happy transfer the Focaccia to a wire rack and drizzle with more of that quality extra virgin olive oil.
Allow to cool and then slice as required . . .
When you are ready to tuck in take the lamb from the cooler and shred.
Cut a slice of Focaccia and place some lamb on top. Finish with some yogurt and mint sauce and jobs done!
Note: The sauce I used on this particular day was made by combining the following ingredients:
- 285g Greek yogurt
- 1 Handful finely chopped mint leaves
- 2 Cloves garlic – minced
- Juice from one fresh lemon
- 1/2 Teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 Teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Salt and black pepper to taste