Your Easter guests will never forget a whole lamb roasted right in your own backyard. Jordan Toft of West Hollywood's Eveleigh keeps in caveman style with a simple meat preparation that yields unbelievably succulent results. While the chef suggests lamb, asado cooking can work with an entire pig and hearty fish like a whole salmon. If attempting this ambitious project, make sure to stay organized and leave plenty of time to get cooking.
- 1 whole lamb for roasting
- Aromatic herbs including rosemary or chives
- 3 cups Salt water preparation (1 part water to 1 part salt)
- Large stones to ring fire pit
- Thin wire
- Needle nose pliers
- Extra kindling wood
- A table or plywood sheet to truss and then carve the beast
- Hack saw
- Star peg post with cross bars
- Pronged hoe to rake embers
- Scotch and some good bourbon to drink while waiting
Build a pit:
- Use large stones to create a three corner sided fire 'ring’- something with a little height to reflect some heat to the upper part of the animal. Build the fire towards the back of the pit, and then rake embers underneath as needed. A pronged hoe is invaluable!
Assemble a sturdy stand:
- The main post should be able to hold a knock to it. A star peg post will work fine. The 2 cross bars across should be thinner. Put a smaller hole in the end of each cross (x) bar and through the spine of the main post. If you choose to purchase a star peg, that will already be in place.Stake it into the ground on the outskirts of your pit, about a 45 degree angle facing the fire.
Butcher the meat:
- Use a hack saw to cut through the spine from the inside (around the neck area) while pushing on either side until flat. Try to pop the ribs from the cartilage and do not worry about cracking the ribs. Crack the hip bone to open at the end. Animal should be splayed flat when prepared correctly.While trussing the meat, make sure your fire gets going.
- Use really salty water with a few aromatics to flavor the meat. Splash and rub on both sides of the animal, paying special attention to the bone side. Repeat once or twice throughout cooking process.
Tie it up:
- First, string up each leg of the animal to the post. When threading the wire through the flesh of the legs, hook the part that is creating the tension around and close to the bone to avoid the wire pulling through the meat as it cooks. Using thin wire is best.Continue up the hips, spine and neck.
Cooking the meat:
- Do not be scared to get some heat into it early. Meat should be tilted on stake toward the fire, exposed bone side facing the heat. Cook 5-6 hours on the bone side, then 1 hour on the skin side. Get direct heat onto it and judge timing by how your Easter party is going. Watch the meat - you may need to push the post up and down, depending on how it looks and if certain parts need more fire attention.
Turning the animal:
- After about 5 hours, you will start to see the shoulders bleed and the collagen start to give on the skin side. It's time to turn animal over on its stake and continue to cook. The whole process may take up to 7 hours and you will get the best results when you have more time flexibility. The longer it cooks, the more the animal looks like a succulent confit, rather than a roast.
To serve, butcher:
- Use the large sheet of plywood previously used to truss meat (after it has been scrubbed and cleaned) as a backyard butcher block. If you’ve taken the time to cook the animal slowly it should pull from the bone like American style pulled pork. A pair of gloves, tongs and a knife is all you need to pull, slice and chop the meat from the bone.
- Serve straight from the wood after splashing with a little good olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt and fresh black pepper. You can also prepare an herbaceous salsa verde by chopping large amounts of plentiful herbs, a little garlic, chili flakes, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil and a little water to loosen it up.
At The Eveleigh, Jordan Toft is known for harnessing the best the area has to offer, and he consciously sources ingredients from California and abroad that have sustainable and free-range origins.