Celebrate in Style With Oven Braised Lamb Mechoui
Lamb Mechoui was traditionally made using a whole lamb or goat which was pit roasted. Although it is originally a Berber dish, it is not uncommon to find it served in and around Perpignan, in France. The meat should almost fall-off the bone when it is cooked. A small shoulder of lamb will feed about 4-5 people, and a the larger shoulder joint around 7-10, depending on the number of side dishes you serve it with. Any leftover meat is delicious taken off the bone, and re-heated in a hot oven until it becomes crispy at the edges.
Lamb Mechoui can be served with something as simple as a green salad scattered with fresh pomegranate seeds and a pile of flat breads. I always serve it as the centre point of a feast featuring lots of other colourful dishes- a delight for all the senses! Most of the side dishes I serve are best made the day before to give time for the flavours to develop. This also helps you to produce an abundant menu with very little last minute work!
I like to serve: Stuffed Moroccan Flatbreads (packed with spicy onions, feta and fresh coriander, made up the day before, and baked fresh after the lamb comes out of the oven), Muhamarrah Sauce, and Roast Garlic and Olive Hummus. All of these recipes can be found in May’s Chapter of ‘Sourdough Suppers’. In addition, a simple yoghurt, cucumber and mint Raita, alongside a fresh coriander, fennel and lemon Tabbouleh, work beautifully. Then a simple mango and pomegranate fruit salad and a platter of medjool dates to finish!
1 Shoulder of Lamb or Hogget
2tsp Whole Cumin Seeds, dry roasted
3tsp Whole Coriander Seeds, dry roasted
2tsp Malden Salt
5 cloves Garlic, peeled
1tsp Hot Smoky Paprika
1 ½ tsp Sweet Smoky Paprika
½ tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper
100g Unsalted Butter, very soft
Dry Roasting Whole Spices: Put a small frying pan over a medium low heat until it is hot, sprinkle in the spice and roast, stirring occasionally until they throw out their intoxicating aroma and start to turn a shade darker. Don’t leave the pan unattended as this will happen within a few minutes, if not sooner, after which the spices will quickly burn.
1-3 days before cooking
With a pestle and mortar crush the cumin and coriander seeds, then add the garlic cloves and salt and crush into the spices. Mix in the paprika and pepper. Then work the soft butter into the spice mix.
Spread the spiced butter (best done by hand) all over the lamb shoulder (top and bottom), then cover (or put in a large plastic bag) and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
When you are ready to cook the lamb, preheat the oven to 200C.
Place lamb in suitably sized roasting tin (it should fit quite snuggly, I use a large paella pan) with about 2cm of water. Cover the lamb with tin foil, sealing it around the edges of the tin.
Bake the lamb for 30 minutes at 200C, then turn the temperature down to 140-150C and cook for a further 4 hours. Baste the lamb a couple of times during the cooking.
After 4 hours, remove the tin foil, and using a fork, test the lamb; the meat should all but fall-off the bone with a little help from the fork. If it doesn’t, returnthe lamb to the oven and continue cooking until it does.
Remove the tin foil, baste the lamb and return it to oven for a further 30-45 minutes until the surface turns dark golden and crispy.
Remove the lamb from the oven and drain-off the liquid into a large frying pan. Put the lamb to one side to rest, ideally somewhere warm (it will sit happily somewhere warm for at least an hour). Put the frying pan over a high heat, reduce the liquid to about 75ml.
To Serve: Place the lamb on a warm serving plate covered with baby spinach leaves, drizzle the hot, now reduced cooking liquid, over the meat and spinach. Serve using two forks to pull the meat easily from the bone.