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Barbecoa Leg of Lamb

Recipe by Chris.

Barbecoa is a South American style of cooking and it is also where the term barbecue actually comes from. It is prevalent in Mexico and the Caribbean and involves slow cooking meat with a high fat content either over an open fire or more traditionally buried in the ground. I have done neither, I have used the traditional marinade but gave it a go on the barbecue as I don’t want to ruin my garden with a large open fire!

The goal for this recipe is to try to keep the heat within the barbecue as close to 160c as possible for the full 8 hours, very tricky with a charcoal barbecue, especially if your barbecue doesn’t have a thermostat! One lesson I learned while trying this Easter weekend is to get a charcoal starting chimney, if you don’t you will have to keep relighting the barbecue and swapping the meat to the oven while you relight it.

Alternatively you can cook in the oven for 8 hours at 160 if you either don’t have a barbecue or just don’t want the hassle of painstakingly keeping a barbecue at a steady temperature for that long.


For the Marinade

  • 10 Dried Red Chillies

  • 1.25 litres water

  • 80ml cider vinegar

  • 2x tomatoes, roughly chopped

  • 1 onion, roughly chopped

  • 5 Cloves Garlic, roughly chopped

  • 1 tablespoon oregano

  • 1/2 teasopoon ground cinnamon

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

  • 4 tablespoons rapeseed oil

For the Lamb

  • 1 3kg Leg of Lamb

  • 2.5 teaspoons of salt

Prep Time: 30 minutes (+marinading overnight)

Cooking Time: 8 hours

Serves: 6 people


  1. Boil the dried chillies in the water for 10 minutes

  2. Add the chillies and half of the water to a blender

  3. Add the rest of the marinade ingredients and blend until a fine paste

  4. Heat the oil in a heavy pan (preferably cast iron)

  5. Add the marinad and cook until has reduced a bit and the oil starts to separate, about 10 minutes

  6. When cooked allow it to cool

  7. Score the lamb leg about 1 cm deep all over and rub in the marinade

  8. Leave to marinade in the fridge overnight

  9. Wrap in tinfoil and cook on the barbeque for 7.5 hours, keeping it as close to 160 as possible, try to keep the meat away from the charcoal as you don't want it to burn on the outside

  10. For the last half hour, remove the tinfoil and cook on the grill

  11. Remove from the grill and let rest for 15 minutes covered in foil

  12. Serve with your favourite sides and enjoy!

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