Dublin goes DFW part two – Lamb goes Shoulder to Shoulder.

Lamb shoulderI’m a rugby fan. Irish rugby is united. United way ahead of the politics of our little island. So when Ireland plays internationals, there are two Irish ‘anthems’ played. One is the Irish national anthem “Amhrán na bhFiann” or “A Soldier’s Song”, representing the 26 county state of the Republic of Ireland. The second is “Ireland’s Call”. This is played as a unifying anthem, given that Ireland’s rugby team is drawn from all 32 counties on the island.

I was thinking of Ireland’s Call while I was cogitating what to do with two lamb shoulders. Phil Coulter’s words, for he wrote it, start along these lines;

Come the day and come the hour
Come the power and the glory
We have come to answer
Our Country’s call
From the four proud provinces of Ireland

Ireland, Ireland,
Together standing tall
Shoulder to shoulder
We’ll answer Ireland’s call

That’s when it struck me. Shoulder to shoulder. Why not have a Dublin / DFW lamb shoulder challenge? I still have enough chilis from Richard McGary to burn a hole in the earth’s crust so I decided to try a classic Garlic and Rosemary Lamb Shoulder and pit it against a Dallas Fort Worth inspired Three Chili and Honey Lamb Shoulder.

Those cow herding Texans have a big secret that makes this challenge OK. There are more sheep raised in Texas than in any other state. Yes Texas is big in sheep. So, DFW is in on this lamb thing. Despite all the spurs, lassoes, and cud chewing, they are sheep herders at heart. First thing to do is to soak the chilis.

Pascila Negro, New Mexico Sandia and Ancho chilis reconstituting.

Pascila Negro, New Mexico Sandia and Ancho chilis reconstituting.

While this is going on, I chopped the garlic and the rosemary.

The Garlic and Irish Rosemary getting ready to go up against those hot chilis.

The Garlic and Irish Rosemary getting ready to go up against those hot chilis.

The rosemary and garlic gets rubbed into the meat along with a little olive oil to make it stick.

At this stage, I reckoned Dublin was in the lead. DFW has a long way to catch up.

At this stage, I reckoned Dublin was in the lead. DFW has a long way to catch up.

Next I chopped the chilis.

There are some pretty spectacular colours and aromas around these chilis.

There are some pretty spectacular colours and aromas around these chilis.

This is mixed with the honey. That calls for a pouring shot.

Honey and three chilis get mixed ready for rubbing on the lamb.

Honey and three chilis get mixed ready for rubbing on the lamb.

Then it gets mixed and rubbed all over the DFW shoulder.

The competition heats up significantly when the honey and chili gets rubbed into the lamb.

The competition heats up significantly when the honey and chili gets rubbed into the lamb.

Both shoulders are put into plastic bags and then left to marinate overnight.

Rubbing shoulders with each other in the fridge for 24 hours allows the flavours to infuse.

Rubbing shoulders with each other in the fridge for 24 hours allows the flavours to infuse.

Then onto the barbecue with them both.

The shoulders give off beautiful aromas while they cook.

The shoulders give off beautiful aromas while they cook.

90 minutes over a slow barbecue and they are ready for the moment of truth.

The DFW shoulder, cooked to perfection.

The DFW shoulder, cooked to perfection.

We all ate some of each shoulder. The chilis had a beautiful, smokey hot flavour that worked really well with the lamb. The garlic and rosemary is a classic combination and worked beautifully.

2 kinds of lamb, salad and ciabatta bread. A pretty tasty combination.

2 kinds of lamb, salad and ciabatta bread. A pretty tasty combination.

Despite significant debate and eating every last bit of it, we could not choose a winner. The sweet, crispy and hot DFW lamb held its own against the aromatic, heady, succulent competitor. I suppose when it comes to the next time, we can decide and it will really be Ireland’s call. 

 

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  • Let’s get one thing straight: The cows chew the cud. The cowboys chew tobacco. (Well, hopefully there aren’t any cowboys out there chewing cud!) Excellent photos and recipe(s), as usual.

    • Thanks for the clarification Adam. What do the sheepboys chew, or are there any sheepboys?
      Who minds all those sheep?

      • Shepherds mind the sheep. 😉 And they chew tobacco too. And drink mead.

        • Wow! I thought meade was from around these parts. I remember my late father bringing a jug of it home from Bunratty Castle in Co. Clare over 40 years ago.

  • It would be a hard call…they both look good. I think I’ll take a slice of each, please. 🙂

    • It was a hard call Karen. I would like to have a clear winner over here but, it is not the case. We will just have to try again.

  • Both appetizing indeed, but for once I would like to be a purist or classicist or whatever – have always loved the garlic and rosemary combo: may I stay with that tonight also 🙂 !

    • Hi Eha,The test was great in one respect, we got to try them both and each was excellent in it’s own right. Either will do nicely. Doing both was fun and tasty.

      • One thing for sure – your shoulders look much meatier than what I can buy: yes, yes ‘Change your butcher’ 😀 !!!

  • Conor, in my hectic days here I have missed how you came to be engaged with DFW folk? I went to college 10 minutes from DFW airport and grew up 45 minutes from there. These dishes look wonderful.

    • Hi Michael, Richard McGary at http://www.remcooks.com started it all when he sent a box of chilis. The rest, as they say, is history. I didn’t have you down as a chilihead…
      Best,
      Conor

      • Conor,
        Chilihead might be a stretch, although I do love spice and miss it being out here on the west coast where their medium spice is my ketchup, and their spicy is my yawn. My father-in-law used to compete in Chili cook-offs and I have been known to make a few bowls of red on occasion. In essence, if you are from Texas, and have ever lived in Austin, there is a good chance you like heat 🙂 I will check out Richard

  • I think cud chewing would be better than tobacco chewing! I’m going to have to try chilies with my next lamb. My husband would love it.

    • I’ll stick to the lamb I think. The chili works really well with it.

  • It’s a difficult call indeed. But seeing how I’ve had garlicy lamb and I’ve not tried it chillied I will go for the latter. As for American lamb; I’ve got the impression that it isn’t that popular in the States, from what I’ve read in the blogosphere at any rate

    • I suspect it’s because of the bad rep from all the old cowboy movies.

  • Great post, Conor! I love the pouring shot of the honey, and the outdoors cooking. It looks like the sugar in the honey caramelized quite a bit. I’m going to do more with Richard’s chiles soon, too. I like your idea of using it for a marinade.

    • For carmelized, read burnt. Nice crust all the same.

  • Such a fan of a good pouring shot Conor! Love it.

  • Great post, Conor, and yes the people of Texas raise sheep. Most of the sheep are raised down around Austin in the Hill Country as well as in Central and East Texas. Sadly, lamb is not as popular as beef in Texas, although more and more people are eating rack of lamb and lamb chops. Most steakhouses now serve either rack of lamb or chops, if not both. As a result, rack of lamb, rib chops and loin chops are pricey. Leg of lamb is not so pricey and you won’t find lamb shoulder, breast or any other cut of lamb unless you go to a Middle Eastern market or a butcher shop that carries lamb.
    I love lamb with rosemary and garlic. It’s one of my favorite dishes. I also like it with a mustard crust. I would think the chile and honey marinade gave the lamb a barbecue glaze type flavor, sweet, savory and spicy. Both dishes look and sound wonderful.
    Also, Baby Lady says she approves of the pouring shot. Nice touch. 😉

  • Why choose? Both look incredible and the rub/marinades fantastic. If forced, I guess I’d choose the rosemary-garlic. I’ve far more experience with that flavor profile. It’s pretty close to my family’s recipe. Even so, well done, Conor!

    • That one certainly had a strong Italian profile. Both were tasty. Thanks John.

  • I’ll just take a bit of each. How’s that for diplomacy?

  • Both look very nice. I think a slice or 2 (hacked off chunks when I carve) of the garlic/rosemary combo 1st might be the way to go otherwise the taste buds may still be tingling a wee bit after the chili chappie, but otherwise I’m definitely up for a bit of both. Very nice, as ever, Conor.

    • Thanks Adam. The shoulder is a bit of a hacked off chunks kinda joint. Tasty all the same.

  • What a truly great Lamb Showdown! It’s like a duel between DFW and Dublin. I’m picturing them standing back to back and then walking 20 yards to see who’ll shoot first. Great flavorings for each rub. I’m not surprised in the least that you weren’t able to declare a winner.

    • I would have liked a winner, if truth be told. However, the DFW inspired version adds a new dish to the culinary armoury.

      • Nice use of the phrase “culinary armoury,” Conor!

  • Wonderful showdown! I could almost smell them both!

    • Thanks Barb. But, could you choose a winner? I couldn’t.

  • Man these are some awesome posts I’ve missed. This lamb looks killer!

    • You are all over the blog this evening. I have one more in the series to post . It’s a pulled pork and was very tasty. More anon.

  • Chillies and honey and LAMB! Why didn’t I think of this before. What did you serve them with?

    • We had it with pitta bread and a summer salad. Delicious.

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