LAMB LEGS (LOTS OF THEM!!)

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LAMB LEGS (LOTS OF THEM!!)

Post  FRENCHPETE on Tue Feb 12, 2008 7:13 pm

OK who can help!!
I have recently agreed (in a momentof total madness) to cook 50 Kilos of lamb legs to feed 200 people on the 22nd of march!!
In essence this means 27 legs of lamb which I intend doing in three frontiers (with the third stacker in place). I reckon I can get three legs on each level.
Now this is a challenge, but one which I feel will let all in my little French village know what smoking can be about!!
This friday the "Committee" are coming to sample one leg!
The intention is to marinade in the usual olive oil, herb and garlic mix (with about 12 cloves inside the meat as well) for 24hrs and then to slow cook for five hours at 220F.
What I need is some advice on what wood to smoke with and expected cooking times once I get up to 9 legs in each machine!!
Just to complicate matters about half the people eating like their lamb a traditional French "Rare".
Hands up all those that think I am truly MAD!!!
Any advice will be taken with open arms.
Any helpers, please find Roquecor (82150) on a map of France and make sure you are free on Easter saturday the 22 March!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Re: LAMB LEGS (LOTS OF THEM!!)

Post  Mack on Wed Feb 13, 2008 1:43 pm

Pete, we would love to come over and help, but being the Easter weekend, it would mean arriving as a crowd and I'm not sure if the village is large enough for our family Smile

I would try some hickory or cherry wood (maybe even a mixture of both). But would advise that you do a practice run with 3 legs (now don't go running about like a 3 legged race type of thing, or they really will think you're crazy!) of lamb, 1 on each level (3 tier frontier). It'll give you a good idea of how long it's going to take.

The other alternative is, you come over for the weekend (with your lovely wife) and we can do some testing together Smile
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IT GETS WORSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Post  FRENCHPETE on Sat Feb 16, 2008 10:49 am

Last night we did a trial run with one leg of lamb.
We used the marinade as described above and smoked with plum and apple wood.
The intention was to smoke for about 4 1/2 hours as all of the guests were French and Lamb, according to them must be eaten rare. Well that would probably have worked fine, but in typical Ftrench fashion the 8pm start time had to be moved to "in a minute" which ended up as 10pm!! (Lots of Pastis being consumed)
We had thought that we would be eight, as it turned out we were 16!
Luckily we had decided to do a chicken and some more Toulouse sausage as well.
This time we did three types of sausage. The first was as before with the Dijon Mustard. The second again involved Agen prunes but with a sweet and strong chilli sauce and the last was with Stilton Cheese and Apple. All were again wrapped with bacon.
None of the guests had ever eaten smoked lamb before, nor smoked chicken nor their Toulouse sausage cooked in such a manner!
Every single dish was greeted with awe!
What a success. No one could believe how good it all tasted and the result is that aside from the 27 legs of lamb to be cooked we have now decided to do 8 chickens as well for the kids!!
Gus had fun carving the overdone lamb but unfortunately the cam ran out of juice before we remembered to snap any more!


I will keep you all informed on the progress of the lamb saga but I confess to getting a little nervous about such a large operation!
Pete

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Re: LAMB LEGS (LOTS OF THEM!!)

Post  Mack on Sat Feb 16, 2008 8:51 pm

Pete, after doing my 1st pulled pork, I would recommend it for the event. A 8lb pork butt, will feed about 20 Smile

Glad to hear the meal went down well last night, and I believe you have mastered "the art of looking busy, while doing nothing" as well, something I've been trying for years to perfect.
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FINAL TRIAL

Post  FRENCHPETE on Tue Mar 18, 2008 11:13 am

Last night was my final test run!
I cooked but only two legs of lamb (boned) and two chickens on a Frontier with a stacker in place.
The big problem I face is timing for two reasons
Firstly the French idea of "on time" is a little less urgent than the Spanish "Manna" which means that when I am told to have the food ready for 20.30hrs this actually means "anytime between 20.45 and 22.30.
The other problem is that some 40% of the French like their lamb Bloody, 30% like it Pink and 30% like it Well done.
Yesterday I took the first leg off the smoker after three hours, wrapped it in foil and a cloth and placed in a cool box. The second leg I left for a further hour, then removed that and again placed in the cool box.
Two hours later we carved.
The first leg was PERFECT!!! Nicely done on the outside , good smoke colour (enhancing the pink) and still bloody in the middle!
The BIG SURPRISE for me was the second leg was IDENTICAL to the first. Both were the same weight so I guess the rate of cook in the cool box was about the same as the rate on the smoker???

Anyway Saturday will reveal all. Last night there wewre no Pikkies but I will provide pikkies from the Saturday event. I will be using Three frontiers (each with a Stacker in place) and a standard Frontier (for the chickens for the Kids).
Wish me luck and any tips will be taken and used!
Pete

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Re: LAMB LEGS (LOTS OF THEM!!)

Post  Mack on Fri Mar 21, 2008 8:32 pm

All the best for tomorrow Pete!
I wish I was there to help and enjoy... can't wait to see the pics and hear how it went.
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LOADS A LAMB

Post  FRENCHPETE on Sat Mar 22, 2008 8:04 am

Thanks Mac
Weather is very very "Iffy".
Forecast for Sun/Wind/Rain/Thunder AND SNOW!! (I think that means no one really knows what is going to happen)
Looking out of the window I see clear skies to the East and Frost on the fields. To the west very black clouds!!
The real problem is NO WIND... LOL!!
Three Frontiers with an extra stacker each are in place at the Salle des Fettes. The fourth (for chickens) is being assembled as I type by my 16yr old (Uhhh why me Dad?).
Major concern is that the lamb legs arrived late last night and they had not been boned as promised! This may well lead to fitting problems (space on the grills) as well as timing problems.
We have now established that there will be three cooks.One of 3 1/2 hrs for the French, One of Four and half hours for Normal people and one of five hours for the "Ooooh dont like the pink bits"! Mind you convincing them that the pink colour is from the smoke will be fun!
I have decided on Apple for the smoke and have found some good quality Restaurant charcoal, so hopefully no problems on that front.
The lamb is to be served (in theory) at 2130hrs so I still have loads of time to fret!!
Biggest worry (aside from rain and snow) is Gustavo (My colombian Assistant cook) who appears to exist upon raw meat and Whiskey!
Well off now. Camera is charged and with any luck I will post a report tomorrow (If i am not lynched if it all goes totally Pear Shaped!!)
Au revoir
Pete

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Re: LAMB LEGS (LOTS OF THEM!!)

Post  Mack on Sat Mar 22, 2008 8:33 am

Sounds like an exciting challenge!

There's an old saying "don't panic........................................................run!"
Suspect
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LAMB AND WEATHER

Post  FRENCHPETE on Sat Mar 22, 2008 10:34 am

Well I no longer have to worry about the weather.
It is nissing it down!!!!
Son is in total rebellion as he has been told he will be the one standing under the brolly!!!
This is going to be great.
Unboned lamb that wont fit on the grills
Rain
A Colombian with a knife and half a bottle of Whiskey inside of him
AND FRENCH ORGANISATION...
I have asked Karina to check on flight times out of the country and have two people looking for new passports for me.
Apparently the last cook who messed up a meal for 200 has not been seen since he was invited down to the cellars to chat about the meal...That was in 2003!
Well off to my destiny!!

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Re: LAMB LEGS (LOTS OF THEM!!)

Post  bowhnter on Sat Mar 22, 2008 10:51 am

Good luck Pete, hope all is going well!
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Re: LAMB LEGS (LOTS OF THEM!!)

Post  Mack on Sun Mar 23, 2008 3:07 pm

FRENCHPETE wrote:
I have asked Karina to check on flight times out of the country and have two people looking for new passports for me.
Apparently the last cook who messed up a meal for 200 has not been seen since he was invited down to the cellars to chat about the meal...That was in 2003!
Common Pete, spill the beans (even in Cuba there must be some sort of Internet access) Suspect
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Re: LAMB LEGS (LOTS OF THEM!!)

Post  FRENCHPETE on Mon Mar 24, 2008 11:33 am

Well I am still in France and the evening was a complete and total success!!
It stopped raining just after my last post and the sun even appeared for a few minutes.
Finally I decided to cook the lamb with the bone still in as although we had ordered “de boned”, typically the legs arrived whole. This meant adjusting the cooking times that I had established but I had no choice.

The final total number of guests was 186 which included 16 children who were there for the mid evening Easter Egg Hunt. Not all the children wanted lamb so I also cooked a few chickens for them.

I managed to find some “restaurant Quality” charcoal and decided to light the fires early partly to be prepared but also because two of the Frontiers were newly made and I needed to burn off the paint.

We set up outside the Village Hall next to the road (Free advertising!!) and at 1600hrs (Four PM) I loaded up the first Frontier with nine legs of lamb. That was three on each of the three tiers. This was to be the “Well Cooked” load designed for (basically) the English. Here I better explain that our clientele was approximately 30% English and 45% French with the remainder being made up of Germans, Australians, Polish, Italians, two Colombians and EVEN TWO AMERICANS , giving our little evening a truly International flavour but also resulting in demands for very different cooking times.



The Lamb itself had been marinated all morning in Olive Oil, Thyme, and Rosemary as well as coarse sea salt and strong black peppercorns and liberally laced with pieces of garlic sunk deep into the flesh. The chickens were simply oiled and salted. The entire cook was to be smoked with Apple Chips (On the advice of Ian) and my timings were to be: Five Hours for the burnt offerings for the Brits (Well done) Four hours for the “Pink” and Three hours for those who wanted to eat the animal as it was going “Baaaaaaa”. My planned cooking temperature was 200F (or 100C for readers in Europe).

After half an hour, or two beers, (The Bar had been set up inside and I was of course kept well supplied with the amber nectar), I noticed the temperature gauge was not getting past 150F. Panic set in. The grate was full of glowing coals and I suddenly feared that the nine legs of lamb were just not going to cook in time for the 2100hrs feeding time that I had been set. It took me a few minutes but I finally figured out that the cold wind was stealing all of my heat. We then moved all the smokers into the lee of the building and carried on. This worked well but gave one problem in that ONE machine was in zero air flow. The result was that Gustavo the Carnivorous Whiskey drinking Machine, was given the patented air flow machine (Karina’s hairdryer) and instructed how to use it. It worked perfectly.


By 1900hrs (7pm) all the machines were up and running and interest from around the village was growing!. Cars were stopping and parents soothing young children who thought a family of smoking robots had moved into the village. You must remember that I live in deepest darkest France (ROQUECOR 82150) and no one here has ever seen a smoker before. The fact that the machines were right outside the Front door meant that I spent a huge amount of time explaining to people what the machines were. I was greeted with looks of abject horror by the French as I explained that I had been cooking the Lamb all afternoon. More than once I heard “Zeese Eeengleesh are Crazeeee!



By nine o’clock we were ready to rock and roll. The meat in Number three cooker was rare and bloody just as required. The meat in Number two was well done (It should have been Pink) and the meat in our troublesome number one machine was perfectly pink, so all was perfect, just not in the order I had planned.


Carving took place and I think at least 10% of the meat got eaten in the Kitchen by the helpers before it even got to the plates! The lamb was a second course (A Colombian Mixed Salad having been the first course) and was served with Flageolet beans which had been mixed with Garlic, Onions and Tomatoes. The platters left the kitchen and I waited for the result.



I did not have to wait long! All 27 Legs (about 50 Kilos of meat) was devoured within minutes.


For the next half hour I was outside accepting accolades and explaining just how the machines worked. All that was left to do was to clear up and then enjoy the rest of the evening, which I did with the rest of our committee until 0600hrs (That is just before dawn for those of you who do not use the 24hr clock). That by the way may explain why I did not post this report yesterday!!!!!


In all a great success for the Pro Q Frontier. So much so that our next function at the end of May will feature either 150 Chickens or a dozen or so Pork butts for pulled Pork. I am leaning towards the chickens ( easier to cook and more profit), but you never know!!


Best regards

Pete

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Re: LAMB LEGS (LOTS OF THEM!!)

Post  Don Marco on Mon Mar 24, 2008 12:09 pm

Wow, awesome cook and story Pete ! cheers

DM
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Re: LAMB LEGS (LOTS OF THEM!!)

Post  Mack on Tue Mar 25, 2008 9:37 am

Well done Pete and team!
Awesome achievement and a great story.

cheers cheers cheers cheers
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