#1  
Old 06-19-2010, 03:07 PM
Puy de Dome's Avatar
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Default 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.
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  #2  
Old 06-20-2010, 07:37 AM
Il Pizzaiolo
 
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Default 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!
Jay
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Old 06-20-2010, 09:53 AM
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Default 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.

Cheers.
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Old 06-20-2010, 10:24 AM
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Default 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.
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Old 06-20-2010, 11:43 AM
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Default 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.
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Old 06-20-2010, 12:19 PM
Il Pizzaiolo
 
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Default 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!
Jay
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Old 06-21-2010, 02:38 AM
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Default 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?
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Old 06-21-2010, 04:16 AM
Il Pizzaiolo
 
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Default 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!
Jay
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Old 06-23-2010, 08:44 AM
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Default 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.
tim
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Old 06-23-2010, 09:11 AM
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Default 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.
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