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Roasting a whole or half a lamb in wfo - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community


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Roasting a whole or half a lamb in wfo

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  • Roasting a whole or half a lamb in wfo

    Hi Guys,

    Hope you're all cooking along nicely and doing some great new recipes and some old favourites too! My wfo is storming along, and each time a BIG hit with those that come, and especially those that come and make their own pizzas! Top attraction for miles!

    I digress.

    Next year will mark a slight departure in what we cook in it. I am planning on roasting either a whole or half lamb. More likely to be half a lamb, if I'm honest, on account of the large amount of meat that'll be available.

    What I'm asking for, chaps, are some guidelines on cooking the whole piece. I'm thinking temperatures and times, mainly. But I think we should be mindful that parts of the beast will be cooked before the others, such as the loin, for example. Legs to take longer.

    I'm doing a pizza party this weekend, and in all probability it will be my last chance for a long time to get clear measurements in the oven across that period of time when the oven is cooling after the intense heat of the pizza party. ie cooling to the sort of temps needed for a beast. Which may not be 180c for 1.5 hours!

    So, I'd really like to get the most out of this little adventure, if possible, so all tips gratefully received.

    And I haven't even mentioned recipes for lamb! But I have a good imagination trading the well worn path of rosemary, garlic, redcurrant jelly etc!

    Cheers chaps.

  • #2
    Re: Roasting a whole or half a lamb in wfo

    Hi Puy!

    You use the term "roasting" which is cooking with dry heat - which is like in front of a flame and implies you are planning to have a live fire. I tend to think that will be asking for trouble for at high temps you will definitely have everything from crunchy (charred ribs) to hopefully perfect leg.

    My approach would be to bake it low and slow for 4 to 6 hours in a closed oven (so as to have humidity) at maybe 250 which would cook everything and make it metlingly tender. Then pull it, build a fire and finish it in a hot oven to give it crust.

    I would use a garlic, rosemary, salt, and pepper rub on the lamb and would let it sit out for at least two or three hours before beginning the cooking.

    Good luck!


    • #3
      Re: Roasting a whole or half a lamb in wfo

      Hi Jay, well, I was thinking of a dry heat.

      Well, maybe a low and slow 200-250 and then have HOT pizza-type heat to finish it off will be just the ticket.



      • #4
        Re: Roasting a whole or half a lamb in wfo

        I like to crust it first then slow cook it, no matter what tpe of meat.


        • #5
          Re: Roasting a whole or half a lamb in wfo

          Depending on how well insulated the oven and door is you can slow roast the day after your pizza firing. Put it in when the oven is about 200 f and leave it in for 6 - 7 hours.


          • #6
            Re: Roasting a whole or half a lamb in wfo

            Hi Puy!

            Neil's time is also good - just a lower temp.

            My normal approach is like TScrborough - crust first, then cook... My concern here is that I am in somewhat unknown territory and while I would expect the oven to stay pretty moist throughout, you would be in control by doing it last. And, as another example, the sous vide guys cook first and grill at the last second. In addition, I have a bit of concern that the crispiness of the skin would soften and fade under the extended cooking if you sear first.

            If you want to do it dry with dry heat/flames I would strongly urge you to break it down so each piece can be reasonably cooked properly. Where the cook whole animals with dry heat it tends to be like the Argentine bbq with spits rotated in front of a fire. The WFO with a fire will be far hotter and - that gives me concerns for the thinner areas like ribs.

            I will be candid. I haven't done this myself so I am shooting a bit blind. I look forward to your feedback and what you try and what works and doesn't work!

            Good Luck!


            • #7
              Re: Roasting a whole or half a lamb in wfo

              Yes, I echo the concern about the thinner areas, too. Do you have a view on trying to lessen the cooking of the ribs by maybe wrapping that area in tin foil? Or some other metal shield? Or is this fanciful thinking?


              • #8
                Re: Roasting a whole or half a lamb in wfo

                Couple of thoughts on the ribs...

                Slow cooking the ribs will make them tender. They should be fat enough they won't dry out (and the moist oven will help). The one caveat is you probably don't want them to totally fall apart coming out of the oven (a half lamb WILL be more impressive if it is still half a lamb and not a scattered assortment of disjoint pieces).

                Foil would help some but not as much as in a hot oven. Still, probably worth while.

                The neat thing about the long slow humid oven is it will melt all the connective tissue and the meat will be achingly tender. The bad news is that the leg would be well done - ditto the rack. But the flavor will be awesome and the texture too.

                Thinking it over I would probably suggest checking the lamb hourly to see how it is progressing and for the first time I would add the foil to the ribs after about an hour. Probably also a good idea to take the temp of the leg on the hour and build a profile for future reference. Unlike leg of lamb cooked rare to say 130, you are going to wind up at a higher temperature - probably 170-180 or so. However, I at the times we cited (say 4 hours at 250, 6 at 200 it would be safe to pull it no matter what the leg temp. The other pieces are much thinner and will be well cooked. It would be good to have the lamb on a rack of some kind over a pan. It will release a lot of fat to the pan.

                Then the fire and the finish! And that could be done in minutes (and the oven won't have to be fully heated back up - a half hour of heating ought to be enough... just keep the lamb warm... It will brown FAST!


                • #9
                  Re: Roasting a whole or half a lamb in wfo

                  I'm with Neil, do it the day after a pizza for 5-6 hrs , while it does not seem hot enough to brown , it does! No need for a finish fire .. at least with our home grown 7lb chickens or the roasts of beef that are part of our 100 yard diet.


                  • #10
                    Re: Roasting a whole or half a lamb in wfo

                    Digressing somewhat, what kind of accompaniments would you put with this meat?

                    I was thinking along the lines of 'Moroccan' with cous cous and fruits, but maybe it (the meat) should just be put in a bun or something?

                    I'm also thinking of plenty of redcurrant jelly and red wines to match the meat.


                    • #11
                      Re: Roasting a whole or half a lamb in wfo

                      Also, if I did have some sort of spit made for the meat, if I did it whole, would this be an advantage over doing it while it lay in a pan?


                      • #12
                        Re: Roasting a whole or half a lamb in wfo

                        How would you do a pig? The same?
                        Our Facebook Page:http://www.facebook.com/pages/Stoneh...60738907277443


                        • #13
                          Re: Roasting a whole or half a lamb in wfo

                          I guess so, but that's a very weak answer if you think about it, because I believe pork and lamb behave differently when cooked.

                          I would do a separate search, Lwood.


                          • #14
                            Re: Roasting a whole or half a lamb in wfo

                            Right then.

                            I got some lamb as a test; a leg, a shoulder, a rack of ribs, a rump steak and a rolled shoulder of lamb, although I'd never heard of that one before.

                            The morning after the pizza bash, the oven was at 170c. Now, you guys are referring to 200, but I think you are working in Fahrenheit...? If so, then my oven temp in the morning was around 340F.

                            This might explain why the meat was cooked, all of it, leg 'n' all, in 2.5 hours.

                            Looks like that was my mistake, because the meat was cooked, as I said, but not 'achingly' soft. Seems like I should have waited for the oven to cool right down to 90c which is your 200f.

                            This is a major learning curve for me, then. I think I now have all the data I need to judge when to make my pizza fire, when to have a pizza party and how to follow that with a roast lamb.

                            And I have to consider who wants to eat like a king on the Saturday and again the following day. Not many perhaps.

                            So I might have to have a big fire, and not have any event on the day, just to get the temp up. Or have a medium fire and aim for the sensible lower temps for the roast.

                            Back to Sunday. The meat really did not have the appearance of being seared and glistening as I have had when doing a roast in the regular oven where we start with a high heat for 30 minutes and turn it down for the rest of the cooking.

                            Like I say, a learning curve. Oh, and I forgot to take any temp measurements inside the leg and shoulder. The ribs and the rump steaks were very well cooked, the ribs moist with the fat, the steaks rather dry.


                            • #15
                              Re: Roasting a whole or half a lamb in wfo

                              Hi PdeD!

                              You can put a roast in an oven in the 170 to 200 degree F range and keep it there for days! Well realistically 12 hours to a day. It will almost melt. Time beyond 8 hours or so is almost meaningless - it just gets more tender - but you do have to worry about it drying out. Shouldn't be a big problem in a sealed WFO but can be a problem in gas ovens where the combustion gases go through the oven and will dry stuff out. As you found you may have to cook some pieces in a covered container to keep it moist.

                              340 F is in the normal baking range and fully explains why you cooked in 2 1/2 hours. Good thing you were paying attention.

                              Experience is a wonderful thing. It resolves lots of questions and provides real guidance for the future!

                              Good Luck!