Asian Style Barbecued Lamb

Twenty-five years ago, I lived in Santa Monica, CA with my Aunt Suzy and her family.   One of our favorite things to do back then was to frequent a swanky kitchen store on Montana Avenue which was near our house.  I loved this store. It was always full of interesting gadgets and once inside, you could pretty much be guaranteed a movie star citing.   The best thing about it was the cooking classes.  Top chefs from around Los Angeles were frequent instructors.   One of the best was Hugh Carpenter, who owned a chain of restaurants called Chop Stix. The restaurants are no longer in business, but Hugh's influence lingers on.  This recipe pays homage to his barbecued lamb which I will never forget cooking with him on Melrose Avenue.   Up until that day I hated lamb.   I hope if you share that sentiment, you will give this a try.  I think you might change your mind.  But if you are chicken, try it on chicken, or steak.  It's delicious.

This recipe looks really complicated but it's not.  It's a matter of making a marinade and grilling.   So don't let the list of ingredients intimidate you!!!

1 leg of lamb, about 5 pounds, boned and butterflied.
2 cups applewood or mesquite wood chips
Asian BBQ sauce (recipe below)

For the BBQ Sauce:
(Note: you should be able to find most of the * ingredients in the Asian section of the grocery store.  I prefer to purchase them at an Asian market where they are much cheaper).

1/2 cup hoisin sauce*
1/3 cup plumb sauce*
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablepoons cup dry sherry
2 tablespoons cup honey
1 tablespoon soy sauce*
1 tablespoon sesame oil*
1 teaspoon Chinese chili sauce*
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoons salted garlic black beans, rinsed and chopped*
1 tablespoon finely grated orange peel

Combine all of the ingredients in a non reactive bowl and whisk until blended.

Prepare the lamb:
Place the lamb in a zip lock bag with the BBQ sauce and seal.  Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or overnight.  When ready to grill drain the BBQ Sauce into a small sauce pan.

To Grill:

Bring the lamb to room temperature before grilling.
Soak the chips in water for an hour.  Drain the water and place the chips in an aluminum foil pan on the grill.
If using a gas BBQ, preheat to medium (350 degrees).
Brush the barbecue rack with oil and add the lamb. The lamb is done when the temperature on a meat thermometer reaches 140 degrees for medium rare or 160 degrees for medium (about 30 to 45 minutes).

While the lamb is cooking, heat the barbecue sauce over medium high heat and cook for 5 minutes.   Use the sauce to baste the meat as it cooks.   I like to wait until the last 5 minutes of cooking so the sauce caramelizes without burning.

Remove the meat from the grill and bring to the table and let rest for at least 10 minutes before carving into thin slices.  Serve with a great salad or grilled vegetables and crusty bread.

Serves 6 - 8.

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