Spit-Roasted Spring Lamb

Print recipe
Process: Involved
Cooking: Lamb
Preparation: Long Cook (Over 2 hours)

Serves: 10-15

One 20- to 30-pound spring lamb

Special Items to Purchase:
About 60 pounds brick charcoal
Fire Starters
Large ash can
Fireproof gloves
Fire extinguisher

Cooking like this is rare nowadays. Sure, it takes serious time and a couple of items you won’t come across at your local supermarket. But when you’re manning the spit with friends gathered around, laying on a sweet-and-sour glaze and cranking up the heat to crisp the skin, you’ll be so glad you made the effort.


Basting Butter
4 pounds unsalted butter
1 sweet white onion, coarsely chopped
5 heads of garlic, cut in half horizontally
6 thyme sprigs
4 sage sprigs
2 rosemary sprigs

Seasoning Blend
1⁄2 cup mild chile powder, preferably Chimayo, Ancho, or Hatch
1⁄2 cup sweet paprika
1⁄4 cup garlic salt
1⁄4 cup light brown sugar
1⁄4 cup dried oregano, preferably Mexican
2 tablespoons turmeric
2 tablespoons finely ground fresh black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 cup water

Herb Bundle
1 bunch thyme
1 bunch sage
1 bunch marjoram
1 bunch rosemary

1 cup honey
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1⁄4 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons fresh marjoram leaves
4 garlic cloves, peeled and grated on a Microplane grater

About 1⁄4 cup kosher salt
About 1⁄4 cup finely ground fresh black pepper
About 1 cup canola or vegetable oil

Techniques Used

Optional Savory Herb Brush
Optional Savory Herb Brush
Press and Dab
Press and Dab
Season "Like Rain"
Super Agressive Seasoning
Super Agressive Seasoning
Tighten With Glaze
Tighten With Glaze


1. Set up your spit.

2. If it has not been done by the butcher, remove the head, any internal organs, and cut off the shanks (bottom of the legs), stopping 2 inches before the thicker leg and shoulder muscles. Position the lamb on the spit according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

3. Combine all of the basting butter ingredients in a baking dish or disposable pan and place under the lamb on the spit to catch any drippings. Combine the seasoning blend ingredients. Tie together all of the herbs using kitchen twine and attach to a dowel, about 3 feet long and 1⁄2 inch in diameter. Place all of the glaze ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake to combine. Set aside. If the skin of the lamb is dry, moisten it with water, using your hands. Season generously with salt and pepper. Then, again using your hands, coat generously with canola oil.

4. Spread about 18 pounds of charcoal approximately 21⁄2 feet away from, but parallel to, the lamb. The coals should be in a mound next to the lamb. Using anything but lighter fluid, light the coals.

Cooking Method

5. To know that the coals are properly placed to cook the lamb, watch the lamb. The skin should begin to sweat very lightly and start to render fat. If the sweating or rendering is too aggressive, using a rake, move the coals about 6 inches away from the lamb. Conversely, if the lamb is not sweating, use the rake to move the pile closer to the lamb.

6. During the cooking time, you will be adding about 9 pounds of coals per hour, but the time frame will vary based on weather conditions. Coals should be added when the charcoal is almost completely ashed over and is not letting off as much heat. Do not wait too long to add new coals. 7. After 1 hour, with your hands, smear the seasoning blend over the meat, covering all areas as best you can. After smearing with the blend, brush with the butter, using the herb bundle, every 30 minutes. Cook the lamb until the internal temperature in the thickest part of the shoulder is 170°F, about 4 hours. (Calculate the appoximate cooking time from the time the coals are hot and positioned correctly next to the lamb.) Brush with the glaze, using the herb brush, and continue to cook for 30 minutes to tighten the glaze.

8. Cut the meat directly from the spit and serve. Or give knives to all of your guests.

© 2009 APL Creative Inc from Serious Barbecue

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