Instead of the classic pork shoulder, we turn to lamb shoulder, cooking it until meltingly tender and shreddable. A bold barbecue sauce spiked with Indian spices stands up to the lamb’s gamey flavor, while a bright, crunchy slaw provides all the contrast the slow-cooked meat needs. – SeriousEats.com.
Why it works
- Slowly roasting the lamb in a humid environment makes the lamb incredibly tender and juicy.
- Liquid smoke in the barbecue sauce creates a good facsimile of real slow-smoked meat.
- 3 tablespoons dark brown sugar (40g), plus more to taste
- 1 tablespoon (6g) kosher salt, plus more to taste
- 2 teaspoons garam masala
- 1 ½ teaspoons paprika
- 1 ½ teaspoons ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- Large pinch cayenne pepper
- 3 ½ pounds boneless lamb shoulder
- ¼ cup ketchup (60ml)
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste (45ml)
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (15ml)
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (15ml)
- 1 tablespoon molasses (15ml)
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar (15ml), plus more to taste
- 2 teaspoons good quality liquid smoke (10ml), such as Wright’s or Colgin, plus more to taste
- 2 teaspoons hot sauce (10ml), such as Tabasco
- 1 teaspoon Asian fish sauce (5ml)
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil or other neutral oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 cup homemade chicken stock or low-sodium store-bought broth (240ml)
For the Slaw
- 8 ounces (225g) shredded green cabbage (about a quarter of a cored 3-pound cabbage)
- 1 medium (4-ounce; 110g) carrot, grated on a box grater
- Small handful flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 3 tablespoons cider vinegar (45ml)
- 3 tablespoons mayonnaise (45ml)
- 1 tablespoon caraways seeds
- ½ teaspoon ground mustard seeds or dry mustard powder
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 8 potato buns
- Adjust oven rack to lower position and preheat oven to 300°F (150°C). In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, salt, garam masala, paprika, turmeric, ground ginger, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper. If lamb is tied up, remove twine and unfurl on a work surface. Season lamb all over with 2 to 3 tablespoons spice mixture, making sure to rub it on all sides. Reserve remaining spice mixture.
- Using butcher’s twine, tie up lamb shoulder into an even cylinder.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together ketchup, tomato paste, Worcestershire, Dijon, molasses, cider vinegar, liquid smoke, hot sauce, and fish sauce. Stir in 1/4 cup of reserved spice mixture. Season with salt, if necessary.
- Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add lamb and cook, turning occasionally, until well browned on all sides, about 5 minutes total. (Lamb will brown fast because of the sugar; do not let it burn.) Add onion and cook, stirring and scraping up browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until softened, about 2 minutes.
- Add half of sauce mixture and chicken stock to Dutch oven, stirring to blend; reserve remaining sauce. Cover, transfer to oven, and cook until lamb is just starting to turn tender, about 2 hours. Remove lid and continue cooking until a knife or fork shows very little resistance when twisted inside the meat and a dark bark has formed, about 1 hour longer; add a small dose of water if at any point the pot goes dry during the last hour.
- Meanwhile, for the Slaw: In a large bowl, combine cabbage, carrot, parsley, cider vinegar, mayonnaise, caraway, and mustard seeds, tossing to combine thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper.
- Transfer lamb to a large bowl, reserving liquid in pot. Using a ladle, skim off excess fat from liquid and discard. Add reserved sauce to pot and whisk to combine. When lamb is cool enough to handle, shred with two forks.
- Ladle sauce into lamb, tossing until meat is nicely coated; you may not need to add all the sauce. Season to taste with more salt, sugar, liquid smoke, or cider vinegar, as desired.
- Pile pulled lamb onto the bottom half of each bun. If you have extra sauce, you can ladle some onto each pile of lamb; you can also lightly sprinkle with any remaining spice rub. Top with slaw, close buns, and serve.