Souvla = large pieces of meat BBQ’d on a very large stick.
Souvla, the word conjures an image to those in the know; slow cooked chunks of lamb turning on a skewer over ashen coals. The smell of sizzling meat meandering through the air..
You may have heard the term ‘souvlaki’ which is Greek for small pieces of meat or vegetables cooked on a small skewer. Souvla is the Cypriot name for much larger pieces of meat cooked on a spit and is perfect for having friends round for a barbecue.
Now let’s clear something up, Souvla isn’t a kebab – it’s an event.
You can’t eat souvla in a nice cutesy piece of pita bread – these things are massive; they need a plate, cutlery, at the very least two hands and a mouth that don’t mind getting dirty.
Cooking meat on a stick over glowing embers has been done for a thousand years and with very good reason – it tastes bloody amazing! The reason I love cooking on a rotisserie BBQ is the food cooks evenly, comes out uber tender and succulent and because it is self-basting (i.e. all those lovely cooking juices keep basting the meat as it turns) it is packed with flavour.
Watch my video of me doing my barbecue lamb shoulder on my new TheoCooks BBQ!
This is my recipe for Lamb Souvla (slow cooked BBQ lamb cooked on a large skewer using a rotisserie barbecue).
The lamb shoulder is cut up and put on a rotating spit over sizzling charcoal and is quite possibly one of the most natural and delicious ways to cook lamb, or any meat for that matter. The real trick is less being more.
Top Souvla Tips:
1. Buy the best quality lamb shoulder you can get (shoulder works best for this recipe)
2. Ask your butcher to chop the lamb shoulder into ‘fist’ sized pieces (you’ll get about 10 +/- chunks from an average sized shoulder), a good butcher will cut straight through the bone and that is perfect – you want the bone left in.
3. This recipe uses the long skewers (about 70cm long).
4. You want enough charcoal to last a few hours and the coals just turned white/ashened when you are ready to BBQ the lamb shoulder skewer.
This is less a recipe more a how-to. To be fair, this Greek Cypriot BBQ lamb shoulder recipe couldn’t be easier but it does help if you have a TheoCooks BBQ to cook it on (alternatively you could cook this on a generic BBQ which I’ll take a guess at below ).
1 lamb shoulder – cut into chunks by your butcher
3 tbl olive oil
2 tbl dried oregano
1 tbl sea salt flakes
1/2 tbl ground pepper
1 lemon for seasoning after it’s been cooked.
- Place the lamb chunks into a bowl, add the olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano and mix to coat the meat.
- Place one lamb chunk on a stable chopping board; rest the tip of the skewer on the meat (so the skewer is pointing vertically downwards) and then push hard so the skewer pierces the bone and goes through it. If it’s a really tough/thick bone just go as close as you can to it.
- Continue until all pieces are on the skewer – try not to squash them next to each other to much. They should be touching but not crowded.
- Place the skewer over the coals (adjust height to about 12 inches above the coals), turn the motor on and it should be ready in about 2 hours. But keep checking after 1.5 hours. You can tell when the meat is done as it will be more tender to the touch and you may notice some bones starting to protrude from the meat.
- Once cooked simply hold the skewer with the point on a chopping board (vertically) and using a fork / back of a knife push down each piece of BBQ lamb shoulder until all are removed.
- Put on a serving dish, gently cover with foil and let it rest for 15 minutes before serving – when ready to serve, give a little squeeze of lemon and another dusting of salt.
Now close your eyes again and inhale the joy of lamb souvla…
Goes well with tons of people, cold beer and something green (like a salad?) to avoid turning into a true caveman!
If you want your own TheoCooks BBQ like the one in the video – check this out.
OK – you don’t have a Greek BBQ (why not??!!), if you don’t you can try the following – but I must emphasise I’ve not done this myself…
Lamb shoulder – leave it whole, season, place on a grill on one of those old fashioned BBQ’s. 🙂
Move the coals away to the edges (so indirect heat), bring the temperature to about 170c, cover and check after a couple of hours, but should be done in three.
I imagine you’ll want to turn it a few times during cooking (and let it rest once done!).
That should work…!