Cape Town Lamb

Cape Town Lamb

When I visited Cape Town, South Africa, I felt like I was making a pilgrimage to the birhtplace of barbecue. After all, it was not far from here that archaeologists discovered the remains of fire built by distant human ancestors over one million years ago.

Well since then, South Africans have had lot of practice in the art of barbecue and they’re equally at home grilling wild game as they are smoke roasting a whole leg of lamb.

The leg of lamb is seasoned with ginger and garlic and spit-roasted in a wood burning grill for an added wood smoke flavor.

Cape Town Lamb


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Cape Town Lamb

Recipe Notes

  • Yield: Serves 12
  • Method: Indirect grilling
  • Equipment: Logs for building a wood fire or 3 cups wood chunks


For the lamb:

  • 1 bone-in leg of lamb (6 to 8 pounds), trimmed of any papery skin
  • 6 cloves of garlic, cut into thin slivers
  • 6 thin slices peeled fresh ginger, cut into thin slivers

For the glaze:

  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons hot Chinese-style mustard, or 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Recipe Steps

Step 1: Prepare the lamb: Using the tip of a sharp paring knife, make slits about an inch deep all over the surface of the lamb. Insert a sliver each of garlic and ginger into each slit. Place the lamb in a nonreactive roasting pan and set aside while you prepare the glaze.

Step 2: Make the glaze: Combine the Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar, Dijon and Chinese-style mustards, lemon juice, oil, and minced garlic and ginger in a small, heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cook the glaze until thick and syrupy, about 3 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. Remove the glaze from the heat and taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as necessary. Let cool to room temperature.

Step 3: Pour half of the cooled glaze over the lamb in the roasting pan, brushing to coat it on all sides. Cover and let marinate, in the refrigerator, for 3 to 8 hours (the longer the better). Refrigerate the remaining glaze, covered.

Step 4: Set up the grill for indirect grilling (preferably, you’ll have built a wood fire; let it burn down to glowing embers), place a large drip pan in the center, and preheat the grill to medium. Toss the wood chips on the coals.

Step 5: When ready to cook, place the lamb on the hot grate over the drip pan and cover the grill. Cook the lamb until done to taste, 1 to 1-1/4 hours for rare (internal temperature of 120 to 125 degrees); 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 hours for medium-rare (130 to 135 degrees); 2 hours for medium (145 to 150 degrees). Start brushing the lamb with the remaining glaze during the last 45 minutes of grilling, brushing it two or three times. If using a charcoal grill, you’ll need to add 10 to 12 fresh coals to each side every hour.

Step 6: Transfer the lamb to a cutting board and brush it one last time with glaze, then let rest for 10 minutes before carving. While the lamb rests, heat any remaining glaze to serve as a sauce with the lamb.

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