Barbecue Recipe: Smoked Spiced Lamb Shoulder and Date Barbecue Sauce

Photo courtesy Beraj Gazarian

This summer, mix your grill game inspired by experts from the UAE and the United States.

Here, Barge contributes his recipe for Gazarian lamb shoulders, combining culinary comb tihi from Central Texas barbecue and his characteristic “bark” exterior cuisine to his Armenian American family. Barge is a pop-up barbecue stand based in Pitmaster, Baltimore, Maryland, behind the Bark BBQ. He had previously participated in the Armenia program of the 2018 Folklife Festival with his father Boris, whose company provided discounts on copper and Thomas festival khorovataj grills.

Pitmaster Hattem Mattar also shared recipes for barbecue sauce based on his signature date. Dates, a basic fruit of the Middle Eastern diet, bring a natural, light sweetness to the sauce instead of the molasses or brown sugar used in mango cultivation. Try this sauce on any smoked or fried mail dish – it makes enough to feed a crowd. Hattem owns Matter Farm Kitchen in Dubai, where he drinks meat and makes people happy. After becoming an apprentice in Central Texas, he became known as the first Arab pitmaster.

To learn more about barbecue, its American origins, and how to root it around the world, check out our Beyond the Mall program “Barbecue Across Cultures” on Friday afternoon, July 3rd. In it, Barge and Hatom James Beard talk about award-winning soul food scholar Adrian Miller about building a community around a barbecue.

Shoulder of smoked lamb

Barge Gazarian, by Bark Barbecue

Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 9-10 hours

Equipment required

Boning knife
Cutting board
Barbecue smokers
Baking tray
Sprinkle bottles


The whole sheep’s shoulder, inside the bone

Spice Blend
1 1/2 tablespoons whole black pepper
1 tablespoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon whole pink pepper
1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 full allspice
1/4 teaspoon paprika
The pinch is ground cloves
The pinch is cumin
The pinch is nutmeg

Garlic puree
Whole peeled garlic cloves
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups apple juice
1 cup water
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce


First make your spice mixture by toasting black pepper, pink pepper, coriander seeds and allspice over medium-high heat until they turn slightly brown and leave their aroma. Keep stirring the spices in the pan so that they do not burn.

In a spice grinder, combine the toasted spices with the rest of the spices and grind to an even, thick texture. Set aside.

In a blender, combine the garlic cloves with the olive oil and blend for 1 minute, or until you have a smooth paste.

Remove your lamb’s shoulder from the refrigerator and remove any excess fat – you don’t want to burn it! I do not recommend trimming the lamb’s shoulder too much. You want 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch fat on the shoulders.

Gently rub the garlic puree around the lamb’s shoulders.

Using an empty shaker, or with your hands, apply the spice mixture generously on all sides of the shoulder, making sure it is evenly coated with a heavy layer of spice.

Leave in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight.

Make spritz by mixing apple juice, water and Worcestershire sauce. Put in a spray bottle and set aside.

Smoke your lamb shoulder at a temperature of 250 to 270 degrees Fahrenheit, making sure you keep a constant temperature and a clean fire. Cook the lamb shoulder for 6 to 7 hours, sprinkling with apple mixture every 2 hours for extra moisture.

After 6 to 7 hours (or closer to the internal meat temperature of 175 degrees Fahrenheit), wrap the lamb’s shoulders in heavy duty aluminum foil and place on the smoker.

Continue cooking on the lamb’s shoulders until you reach an internal meat temperature of 200 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remove the sheep’s shoulders and rest for 1 hour at room temperature.

Remove the lamb from the foil. It should be easily separated from the bone.


A dish full of barbecue sauce ingredients before mixing: beaten dates, tomatoes, onions and more

Photo courtesy Hatem Mattar

Date barbecue sauce

By Hatem Mattar


1/2 cup butter
2 cups red onion, chopped
1 cup white onion, chopped
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 orange juice
5 whole tomatoes, roughly chopped
4 cups dates, peat and cut evenly
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup fried ginger
Peel a squash, grate it and squeeze the juice
2 tablespoons garlic powder
Test the salt and pepper


In a cast iron pan over low heat, melt the butter and caramelize the onion until dark brown. Dilute the pan with apple cider vinegar and orange juice as needed to get the pieces stuck during caramelization.

Add the tomatoes and dates, cook until the tomatoes leave their juices.

Add soy sauce, ketchup, ginger, garlic and garlic powder. Boil together on low heat for 20 to 30 minutes. Your sauce should now be a thick paste.

Using an immersion blender or food processor, mix the sauce to a uniform consistency. Press if desired; Not straining gives a more pronounced odor. Add water to make a thin ingla sauce, or leave as for a basting or simmer sauce.

Siha wa hana! (Literally “health and happiness,” the Arabic way “enjoy your food!”)

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