Kentucky Style Lamb BBQ
I don’t have many “Top Secret” recipes but this Kentucky Style Lamb BBQ is one of them. For the longest time, I had a fantasy that maybe, just maybe one day I’d have my own BBQ restaurant. This recipe would be the star of the show. Well, the reality is I’m not opening one up anytime soon and at this point, I don’t want that life. So here it is. My favorite recipe, Kentucky Style Lamb BBQ.
Kentucky Style Lamb BBQ?
There are a lot of very famous BBQ “regions.” The Carolina’s are known for whole hog along with vinegar and mustard-based BBQ sauces. Memphis is famous for its ribs. Kansas City has it’s sweet tomato-based sauce and burnt ends. Central Tennesse cooks up an amazing whole hog and of course, Texas has its brisket. Even California has it’s Santa Maria-style Tri-Tip.
Sadly, my favorite region is often overlooked. Kentucky Style BBQ just isn’t as well known. In Kentucky, we cook Lamb/Mutton. Lamb and Mutton are essentially the same thing. Mutton is usually just an older sheep. Along with Lamb BBQ, we have a black bbq sauce also known as “dip.” For some reason, people are just scared of Lamb because they think it’s “gamey.” I’m here to tell you if you cook it right it’s every bit as delicious as it’s more famous cousins. In fact, this is probably my death row meal.
My friend Valerie from Freedom Run Farm heard that I was going to finally do a tell-all recipe on Kentucky Style Lamb BBQ and was kind enough to give me some wonderful lamb necks. So disclaimer here I was given these two necks for free but I fully support the efforts by Freedom Run Farm and frequently by their lamb when out shopping at my local grocery store.
Lamb necks are my favorite
The lamb neck is by far my favorite cut to smoke. The neck has tons of flavor, it’s well-marbled, and when cooked correctly is moist and tender. If you can’t find lamb necks I recommend the shoulder. It has some excellent marbling and will work nicely. I wouldn’t smoke the loins/chops. They work much better on the grill. This recipe for Grilled Lamb Chops is a much better use for that cut. I find that the legs can work for this recipe but I think because they are leaner they tend to go better in a roasting/braising application where the goal is to get to a temperature that is ideal for slicing. For BBQ you are looking for a long cook that breaks down those connective tissues. With a leaner cut, you run the risk of drying it out.
Black BBQ Sauce “Dip”
The Black BBQ sauce also known as “dip” is a Worcestershire based sauce that has a great tangy zip that compliments the lamb exceptionally well. A little drizzle on the sandwich is a must. Along with being an excellent condiment, you can “mop” the lamb with the sauce as it cooks if the surface starts to look a little dry.
Pro tip: Sipping on some of that famous Kentucky Brown Water while you cook will add to the authenticity. Plus, if you drink enough it won’t matter if the lamb comes out less than perfect. On the flip side if you drink enough it might cause an unforced error or two. 🙂 It’s a risk I’m more than happy to make.
Over time I’ve come to realize, there really isn’t a reason to keep secret recipes. I find it silly that I’ve held onto this one for so long. I’ve desperately wanted to get people to try Kentucky Style Lamb BBQ because I think they would love it if they tried it. Keeping this one close to the vest was pretty counterproductive to my end goal. Below is the step-by-step video and instructions that will have you churning out some delicious and unique BBQ that I love so very much.
As always if you make this recipe please let me know in the comments what you thought or hit me up on social media @ilovemeatdotcom Share this with your friends. Who knows, maybe this is the next big food craze just waiting to happen. Enjoy.
Kentucky Style Lamb BBQ
This delicious, tangy, and decadent Kentucky Style Lamb BBQ recipe is a real taste of the Bluegrass. Will it be the next big food craze?
- 8 pounds Lamb necks or Shoulders
- 1 cup Worcestershire Sauce
- 1 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1 cup Water
- 1/2 cup Classic BBQ Rub
- 1/3 cup yellow mustard
- 2 TBS Butter
- 2 TBS Salt
- 2 TBS Raw Sugar
- 2 TBS Hot Sauce
- 1 TBS All Spice
- 1 TBS Paprika
- 1 TBS Black Pepper
- 1 TBS Onion Powder
- 1 TBS Garlic Powder
Slather your lamb in yellow mustard. You won't taste the mustard in the finished product this is just "glue" for the rub.
Using your Classic BBQ Rub evenly coat the entire piece of lamb
Smoke at 275 for 2.5 using your favorite smoking wood. I enjoy fruitwoods and hickory.
After 2.5 hrs. wrap in foil and continue to cook for another 2.5hrs. I like using a hotel pan to catch the juices as we can add those back in later when we pull the meat.
In a saucepan melt butter and combine the remaining ingredients. If you refrigerate the sauce for later use realize you will have to re-heat because the butter will solidify.
After 2.5 hours pull the lamb and let rest for 1 hour.
Strain and separate the juices from the fat. I'm using a grease separator but you can simply place the juice/fat mixture into a plastic cup and place in the fridge until the fat solidifies and you can remove it from the top of the juice. If you use the fridge method it's a good idea to heat up the juices so you aren't pouring cold juice on your meat.
Pull all the meat from the bones into thumb-sized chunks
Sprinkle a light dusting of Classic BBQ Rub on the pulled lamb
Add in the juices we separated earlier.
Ladle out a few spoonfuls of your Black BBQ Sauce onto the lamb.
On a toasted bun add a little mayo, lamb, a few pickles, and some fresh sliced onion.
Enjoy this delicious Kentucky Style Lamb BBQ Sandwich with a glass of bourbon.
4 Comments Hide Comments
Thanks for sharing! I had BBQ mutton in Louisville and would love to recreate it. If I can’t find lamb shoulder, how do you think shanks would fare? I have a few in the freezer. Thanks!
Shanks will work but just know they have less fat and will have more tendency to dry out. I’d mop them often with the black bbq sauce. Let me know how it turns out!
I made this recipe and was so happy with the results. It might be my new favorite bbq! I used an 8lb lamb shoulder and followed the recipe without any substitutions. Thank you for an interesting and and absolutely delicious recipe!!
Glad you liked it Marcus. It’s my favorite as well!