Smoking, SV 5 Boneless Leg of Lamb Roasts....please help

Every year for Greek Easter we host close to 100 people at our home. For the past 5 years I’ve cooked from start to finish on a Traeger…and one year they had a little pink on them…texture: debatable.

I have not used this device yet so I’ll take your lead on what you think. I’m down to setup a Cooler…will 5 legs (5lbs each) fit in a 48 can…I’m thinking barely. My current plan would be to stuff with garlic, brine for 24 hours. Then dry and rub with a blend of garlic, spices, and olive oil. Then smoke for 3 hours. Then crank up Traeger and cook to achieve desired color keeping internal temp below 100 degress (may be better to just accomplish this in an oven at 500 since the Traeger’s hottest setting isn’t close (however it is convection). Pull, allow to rest and cool, vacuum seal and then SV for 24 hours to 135 degrees. What are your thoughts?

Hi Anthony,

If you search the community with “smoking”, others prefer to sous-vide cook first followed by smoking to finish, similar to other finishing other meats. You will see comments that sous-vide after smoking would soften the nice crust that develops during a smoke.

I haven’t leg of lamb but lamb shanks and prefer to finish in the smoker. My favourite is

Thank you Max,

My biggest concern is twofold:

  1. Overcooking. If I SV to where I want it…then smoke it (Traeger’s still heat up a bit) I risk overcooking them. I can’t say with certainty that I’ve ever had a noticable crust by smoking only after the meat is sliced and held in a serving pan.

  2. My entire motivation in doing this is to not have to watch and check on the meat. We spend days prepping for this event and the meat is the only thing that keeps me from being able to socialize with my friends and family. If I knew it was ready whenever I wanted it to be…that’s a win as far as I’m concerned.

My MAIN CONCERN is will the 48 can cooler do the trick? I’ve just ordered it…Id be content with 4 roasts (2 on each side of the probe)…5 may crowd it.

The easiest way here is sous vide then smoke. Particularly if you’re doing a few legs. I’d be cooking them rolled, but that’s me. I’d be working on 24-36 hrs SV, shock and chill overnight then up to temperature in the smoker.

Now, I’d be doing my lamb SV at 130F/54C, but to me lamb must have a good pink blush. But, you said there were complaints about pink, so 140F would be your absolute minimum and probably 150F would be better for you and your guests.

Now… You’ve mentioned 2 different finish textures in your post. Sliced and pulled. Personally, I’m not a big fan of pulled meats. To me it’s an indication of overcooked. If you use the method I suggest, over cooking won’t be an issue, and you’ll actually have a chance at getting a bark that some seem to love so much.


Thank you for the advice. One of the main reasons I want to utilize SV is so I can enjoy socializing with company. Year after year I’m babysitting the lamb. So if I stuffed lamb with garlic, brined, then rubbed, then SV for 36 hours at 130. Then shocked and chilled. Then smoke to 130 (my complaint was I’ve only got pink once (desired))…sound about right?

Last…the meat will have already been cooked so techically if I pulled it prematurely from the smoker…I would simply risk serving it colder than it could have been…correct?

Thank you again!

Fresh garlic and sous vide are not recommended together. There’s a (low) risk of botulism. Instead you could dust it with garlic powder.

With your lamb already cooked there is much less concern with tending the smoker. Smoke at a low temperature and you will get a gradual, even rise in temp of the meat. Also, you won’t have that notorious temp stall when the rise slows or even stops. I assume you have a leave in meat probe (or two).

If you sous vide your lamb to 130F and smoke afterwards you can even go up to 140-145F internal temp in the smoker without losing that gorgeous rose blush. For some reason the product cooked sous vide will hold its colour through the smoking process.

Yup. Pulling the meat out too early is not a risk. It’s already cooked perfectly. You’re just adding the finishing prettiness in the smoker. It’s a win win situation.

The garlic is definitely not something I had considered. I don’t know if I’m willing to alter my recipe that much. I poke holes and stuff literally over a full cup of cloves in each leg. (I have brined the cloves first. Brining would prevent any foodborne issues wouldn’t it?). Then my rub is olive oil, garlic, and spices. If I vacuum sealed…wouldn’t that suck in the rub into the meat? Saving the rub till after SV just seems like a wasted flavor imparting opportunity.

Overthinking it I know…what if the roasts were stuffed with Brined garlic cloves, rubbed, then roasted quickly at 500 until the garlic was cooked and there was some color. Then cooled slightly to bag…SV’d. Then ice bathed/chilled…then smoked day of till internal of 135.

The rub only impacts the outside of the meat anyway. Vacuum packing can’t possibly make the flavour go into the meat. Nothing but salt can penetrate the meat anyway. Any rub applied is purely topical flavouring. It can’t penetrate the meat structure.

Cooked garlic is fine. Raw garlic is not ideal. Besides, the temperature required to cook vegetable matter is higher than that at which you’ll be cooking the meat anyway. Most people consider the flavour of raw garlic to be unpleasant. Garlic may carry botulinum spores from the soil in which it was grown. Botulinum C. is quite difficult to kill. It is rendered inactive by sous vide temperatures but not killed. Botulinum C. also thrive in low acid, low air environments. This is why raw garlic is not recommended. Of course, the same could be said for fresh chilli and fresh onion too. But, garlic is the one that folk get nervous about.

Think about your process. You want to insert garlic into a lump of meat and roast it to until the garlic is cooked… You’re going to also be cooking the meat with that roasting.

Personally, I’d forget the garlic. You only get topical flavour impact from it anyway, ie) a very small area surrounding where you inserted the garlic. Your garlic to lamb ratio is high, but is it worth it? Why not roast your garlic and turn that into a paste/dip which can accompany the lamb when serving? Sweetly roasted garlic makes for an awesome spread on crusty bread.

Anthony, you are attempting an industrial sized meal with domestic equipment, a serious mismatch. At the same time you are trying to convert your semi-traditional Greek technique for lamb to a SV process, another serious mismatch as Ember described. If i were you, i’d forget SV and just do the brined lamb low and slow in your Traeger. If you don’t have any, i’d get a couple of remote thermometers to monitor progress. You can double-wrap and hold in the cooler chest for many hours if you preheat it with boiling water. I’d put a few heated smooth rocks in with the lamb too.

I also have doubts about your getting the planned 20 portions per leg. I hope you are a skilled carver who counts portions as you slice. Those are going to be small portions, but you will likely have an ample amount of other Greek dishes to satisfy your guests, - just make lots. All the Greek folks i know have good appetites.

If you persist with SV, your 48-can cooler will contain about 6 gallons of useable water for SV as you must heed the Anova’s Maximum water level. You might get the 5 lamb legs into your cooler, but only if you saw the bottom end of the legs off just above the joint before sealing. That ensures ample water circulation. You will still have almost all of the edible meat, but the legs won’t look as pretty.

I wish you all the success possible and a joy-filled Easter.

I’ve cooked garlic and rosemary in olive oil, puréed and injected the lamb which turns out pretty tasty.

Maybe you could do a bit of trialling of your various options over this year, and aim for Easter 2019.

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@anthony68c - Maby the answer is just changing things around order wise.

What if you cooked the lamb sous vide, shocked and cooled it, filled the cooked lamb full of garlic as you normally would, them smoked it for 2 or three hours. You could roasted the garlic a bit before stuffing it in, since the smoking is not going to provide sufficient heat to cook it the way it normally would. Doing it this way you’d still have all that stuffed garlic - which is the way my mom always cooked it too, and I’d be loath to lose as well!
If I were you I’d try a test run before Easter just to see how things go. Good luck!