Lamb shoulder barbecoa-style with mescal & chestnuts

Lamb shoulder barbecoa-style with mescal & chestnuts

Chris Middleton

Barbecoa is a form of pit cooking. Here we capture the same flavours in the domestic kitchen by making a pot roast-style dish. The grilling adds lovely smoky notes and the chestnuts add that beautiful taste of winter.


Quantity Ingredient
1.5kg free-range lamb shoulder, bone in
extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Tortilla dough, to serve
Green rice with black cabbage, to serve


Quantity Ingredient
750ml tempranillo wine
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 red onion, roughly chopped
10 garlic cloves, smashed
4 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon juniper berries, crushed
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 bay leaves
50ml extra-virgin olive oil


Quantity Ingredient
300ml agave syrup
300ml balsamic vinegar
1.5 litres chicken stock
or 500ml Red mole, combined with 1 litre stock
50g cornflour
100g bitter dark chocolate, roughly chopped
sea salt, to taste


Quantity Ingredient
25ml olive oil
4 garlic cloves, sliced
175g smoked bacon or kaiserfleisch, cut into lardons
1 large handful sage leaves
200g peeled chestnuts, fresh or frozen
75ml mescal reposado
500ml chicken stock
100g unsalted butter
200g cooked or tinned flageolet beans, drained and rinsed if using tinned
200g cooked or tinned lentils, drained and rinsed if using tinned
200g cooked peas


  1. To prepare the marinade, combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl.
  2. Place the lamb in a deep casserole dish, pour the marinade over the top and drizzle with oil. Cover and refrigerate, turning occasionally to marinate evenly, for 3–4 hours but not longer as the wine will overpower the meat.
  3. Meanwhile, to prepare the sauce, combine the agave and vinegar in a medium saucepan and boil over medium heat until reduced by half. Add the stock, or stock and mole combination, boil and reduce by half once more. If using just stock, dilute the cornflour with a little water in a small bowl. Whisk the cornflour mixture into the sauce, boiling until it just thickens to a coating consistency. Set aside until required. If the stock and mole combination is already thick enough, skip the cornflour step. Add the chocolate and stir to combine.
  4. Ideally a wood-fired or charcoal barbecue will impart greater flavour when cooking this dish. If you have one, preheat it until the coals have a thin coating of grey ash. However if you don’t, below are instructions for how to prepare barbecoa using a conventional stove top and oven.
  5. Preheat the oven to 140°C.
  6. Remove the lamb from the marinade. Strain the marinade through a fine-mesh sieve into a small saucepan, reserving the vegetables. Bring the marinade to the boil, skimming off the impurities that rise to the surface until clear.
  7. Grill and char the lamb on the barbecue, or alternatively in a hot pan, until well coloured all over. Transfer the lamb to an ovenproof casserole dish. Grill the reserved vegetables until coloured and add to the dish with the lamb. Pour the sauce and boiled marinade into the dish. Cover with a piece of baking paper with a hole in the middle. This allows air to circulate into the braise, causing the liquid to reduce more, resulting in a richer sauce.
  8. Cook for 3–4 hours until the lamb is soft and gelatinous. Remove the lamb from the dish and place on a serving tray, cover and keep warm.
  9. Strain the braising liquid through a fine-mesh sieve into a saucepan. Simmer over low heat until reduced to a rich sauce. Season with salt. Keep warm.
  10. To prepare the garnish, heat the oil in a medium frying pan over low heat. Cook the garlic until softened. Increase the heat to medium, fry the bacon lardons and sage until crisp. Drain the excess oil from the pan. Add the chestnuts and mescal and tilt the pan towards the flame to flambé. Allow the flame to burn out. Add the chicken stock and butter and simmer for 5 minutes, until the chestnuts are tender. Add the beans, lentils and peas and heat through, stirring to combine.
  11. To serve, spoon the bacon and chestnut mixture over and around the lamb. Add plenty of sauce. Serve with the warmed tortillas and green rice with black cabbage.

Paul’s tip

  • Substitute borlotti (pinto) beans for the flageolet beans, if unavailable.
Paul Wilson
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