Jordan, a FeedMe reader, saw the article about a pulled lamb sandwich I had at Los Gatos Meat Company and decided he had to have this. He's not local, so he did what needed to be done: he deconstructed and reconstructed and reported it all in the comments!
Jordan's first question was what cut of meat they used. I surmised shoulder, but Jordan called them. He reports, "A very nice guy there told me that they use all parts of the lamb that don't make it into the butcher's case — well, the meat parts. And they pull it when it's fork tender, which, according to him, is around 160-165, much lower than pork."
That surprised me, since pork requires cooking to about 200 degrees. (See the recent article, "Pulled Pork, Perfected?")
Next, he reached out to Craig "Meathead" Goldwyn, owner of the amazing amazingribs.com, (which is my favorite BBQ blog). They consulted back and forth.
Here's Jordan's full report back to Meathead:
The legs at my local grocer were a little small, and I was worried about shrinkage and not having as much meat as I wanted. I always worry about this, though it's never been a problem. I think I must like grazing on the leftovers in the fridge more than I realize. Anyway, once the butcher butterflied the leg, I decided to pick up a little shoulder meat to roll up in there.
At home, I made a paste out of garlic and rosemary and rubbed that on the shoulder and the inside of the leg. I also threw in some of the rub, which was made with a lot of pepper, some brown sugar, salt, a little allspice and some crushed garlic. I found this recipe on the net, but the crushed garlic is kind of dumb, since it doesn't really mix with the grainy/powdery things. It clumped and I ended up throwing it out and adding garlic powder. Then I tied it up, studded it with some garlic and five or six anchovies, coated it with Worcestershire sauce and hit the outside with the rub. Then I put it to bed in the fridge and me to bed with the wife.
I smoked it yesterday, using the smokenator and just one chunk of apple wood. Because I lose water in the smokenator's water tray faster than I can keep up, I put a drip pan full of water on the fire grate, under the lamb. The temp climbed steadily for a couple of hours and then hit the stall at 150. I thought I had time to wait it out, but several hours later, it wasn't budging. So I wrapped it with a couple tablespoons of beer (approximately — I poured some on from the beer I'd just opened) and put it back on. It immediately climbed to 167. Another hour and a half or so and I was at 180. I unwrapped and put it back on for a few minutes to firm the bark, and then took it off and tented it.
It didn't pull, so I sliced and chopped and hit it with a little bit of (Meathead's) sunlite sauce. I had a bowl of this at the table, as well as a caramelized onion and apricot sauce for people who wanted to get crazy. As a side note, I did mop occasionally with the sauce. I know you are not a proponent, but I was interested in trying the Kentucky technique with the Kentucky dish.
The verdict: Good. I thought it was a little dry, but people raved, so what do I know? The sauces helped there. The anchovy was kind of a waste of time. I didn't expect to taste them per se, but I thought it might add a little savoriness. Anyway, the pepper, garlic, and smoke pretty much obliterated all the other added flavors. I would do it again, but I might use a a little less pepper. Also, I might brine. Or I might just make a medium rare leg of lamb. Who knows? The world is my oyster.
Jordan, thanks for the report.