It’s not difficult to learn how to make smoked lamb. Lamb is one of the most underrated BBQ meats, but the fatty, rich meat is perfect for smoking.
Generally, the more meek and mild a meat is, the tougher a time it has in the smoker. That’s why we need to aggressively season and brine chickens for smoking, and often why the smoke can overpower the delicate white meat. But if you take a tough and robust protein, like a brisket, the match is made in heaven. Lamb is one of those magical meats. The meat of the shoulder in particular is rippled with fat (just like a pork butt). The rich and slightly gamey (and that’s not a bad thing!) meat pack a real flavor punch that can stand up to the intense smoke flavor of a barbecue pit. Just like brisket or beef ribs, lamb can also develop that signature crusty dark bark on the exterior. This gives a lovely textural variation to the finished smoked pulled lamb meat, with salty pops of seasoned bark nestled amongst the moist and tender meat.
The nice part about smoking lamb shoulder is that it requires very little babysitting. It’s really hard to mess this up – the only real threat you have is undercooking. Essentially, once it’s in the smoker you pretty much leave it alone until its extremely tender. The mistake I see most people make is that they take the lamb out of the smoker before it’s done. When you probe the meat, make sure you stick the probe in several areas across the shoulder – ALL of them should have little to no resistance. If some areas are still tight, the meat will be tight, and you need to allow it to cook longer. If the process is taking too long, you can always employ the ol’ Texas crutch and wrap it in foil. If you do this, I recommend you try the boat method, where the meat is wrapped across the bottom and sides, but the top is exposed to preserve that gorgeous bark. For the resting stage, I recommend using butchers paper, which allows for airflow, again protecting that bark.
For seasoning, I recommend Hardcore Carnivore camo, which was formulated especially for use with lamb and game meats. Camo also has a lot of fragrant spices like allspice and coriander seed. If you wanted something more traditional, I recommend the Black seasoning which has more classic flavors and also helps get a killer crust.