Paul joined Pol Roger Portfolio in 2007, and is now our Director of Business Development, overseeing all marketing activity and continuing to look after some strategic accounts.
Paul is an accomplished sportsman, having recently hung up his rugby boots, he can now be found either in a boat or on a grouse moor.
BBQ’s in our house were always a traditional affair, my father at the helm, with meticulous prep for an outdoor feast that always led us to be over-laden with food and often us all fawning around the ‘old man’ to make sure the meat was delivered in time and the tools to hand. I loved our BBQ’s at home, in particular when my father sourced the oil drum and cut it in half himself using an angle grinder and created a metal cradle for it. A proper boys afternoon with power tools, I was of course watching at a safe distance whilst the swearing went on, under-breath to get the cut ‘just right’. My father dislikes lamb, dislikes a lot of fish but my mother always convinced my father to do both on the BBQ and my favourite of all of the BBQ foods (thanks to the insistence of my mother) is now butterfly shoulder of lamb.
With my own growing family and friends it was our turn recently to invite our people for lunch and my wife’s turn to roll her eyes at my inherited belief of being a supreme-being in front of the coals. The year before I had gained a new, whizzy BBQ which is a fair size and weight but a smart piece of kit to grill with, over-coals. I am purist you see, for the hot coals are all, not gas.
The important part here is choose the right butcher, it all begins with the right meat. My local butchers are Evans of Alresford (but I also use HG Walter of Barons Court, London) sourced a 2.7KG shoulder of lamb from a local herd within 15 miles for me. They skillfully butterflied it off the bone and generously then offered said bone for the hungry hound at home.
Once vac-packed and prepped the work begins.
Amass your mix of briquettes, charcoal and woodchips across the BBQ base and light the BBQ using only firelighters if you must (not fuel). Build the mass into a pyramid shape to concentrate the heat, then leave, you need to leave for c.45mins to ensure all the coals are ‘white’ and the lid (should you have one) closed.
About 2hrs prior to ‘heat up’ – take the lamb and spread it out onto a (wire-brush scrubbed) wooden board – better for this type of lamb than plastic or glass boards as the oil and herbs get rubbed into the wood and ensure both sides covered nicely.
You will need:
Mix all of the above into a bowl and get your hands in there, mixing it all up. Once you have a nicely consistent ‘rub’ then clean your hands, and the dunk them again into the ‘rub’, get close to the lamb and begin to rub the mix into the meat on both sides until the whole mix has been used. Leave covered but not touching in a cool place for 2hrs.
Once the coals have been lit for c.30 mins go and check on them – the trick here is to ensure there is an even heat, ensure all of the coals are mostly white. Then spread them out evenly – open the lid and get the lamb. Rub both sides again to make sure the mix has gone into the meat evenly, then put the lamb (meat side down, fat side up) onto the grill. Be careful and watch for ‘flare’ of the flames, as this will burn the meat on the outside but leave the inside too rare. 12mins on average on each side & 15 mins rest . Important to remember when you put the fat side on the grill please push the coals to the edge this will prevent excess flaring of flames and ensure the main heat is there in the BBQ (although not directly underneath the meat) but the fat side should not be scorched too much.
Your meat ideally should be pink in the middle and more medium/medium well to the outside (throughout the meat – not just the edges)…meaning your guests can choose the amount their meat is cooked. What you don’t want is black meat on the outside and undercooked on the inside, a recipe for disaster – don’t forget resting the meat under tinfoil and a tea towel on top will be as effective in cooking it as being on the coals. Taking into account the resting time, it is important because if too well cooked on the BBQ it will make the meat too tough post-resting. If in doubt, slice it a bit in the middle and outside to see.
Cut the lamb with a proper carving knife and fork and a little thicker than you would for traditional roast meats, then pair with corn on the cob, home-made coleslaws or kebab vegetables. Don’t forget your BBQ sauce.
Pair with the ideal accompaniment; Robert Sinskey Vineyards, Cabernet Franc 2012 (Vandal Vineyards) it has all the richness and depth to cope with the lambs unique flavour and Cab Franc has a natural if subtler, spiciness to balance with the more aromatic herbs of Rosemary and Thyme. There is a real complexity to this wine with balanced acidity which can cut through the fat of the lamb and ensure the prevailing length of the wine is unaffected by the meat’s density. Enjoy.