Now I was planning on cooking lamb for Easter, but was struggling to settle on the approach and recipe. Grilled lamb chops? Braised lamb shanks? Lamb stew? I was getting a bit disoriented. I wanted a lamb dish that had a similar wow-factor to the Christmas roast rib of beef. Them on a recent business trip to London I bought the Feb/March issue of Jamie Magazine (Yes! Jamie Oliver has a magazine. And it's not bad)...and found what I was looking for: Méchoui lamb.
The main article in that issue is about Jamie exploring the food markets of Marrakesh and eating Méchoui-style lamb. As 'real' Méchoui calls for the whole lamb to be roasted on a spit in a specially designed oven dug in the ground, Jamie is kind enough to provide a recipe that can easily be cooked in a normal Western kitchen. The outcome is full of spiced flavors and wonderfully tender and moist.
Ingredients (serves 6)
- 1 shoulder of lamb (mine was 1.8kg)
- 60g butter at room temperature
- 1 heaped tbsp ras el hanout spice mixture
- 1 tsp flaky sea salt (I used Maldon)
- Handful of fresh thyme sprigs, leaves picked
- Handful of fresh rosemary sprigs, leaves picked
- 1 whole bulb of garlic, cloves separated
- 1/4 cup water
- Pre-heat the over to the maximum (about 240°C)
- Put the lamb on a rack in a large roasting tin
- Rub the butter equally all over the lamb shoulder
- Sprinkle-rub the spice mixture on the meat, making sure every part is covered
- Using a mortar and pestle, grind the salt and thyme leaves together until well combined, then rub all over the lamb together with the rosemary leaves
- Push the garlic gloves into the butter layer on the lamb (you could also make small incisions with a sharp tip of a knife) so that they stick
- Pour the water into the tin and snugly cover the lamb shoulder with two layers of tin foil
- Reduce the heat to 180°C, place the tin on a middle rack and roast for about 3.5 hours
- Remove from the oven and leave to rest for about 15 minutes, still covered with the foil
- Shred the meat using forks and serve with pomegranate rice (or my Moroccan couscous recipe) and a mint-yogurt sauce (see below)
Tips for serving
I've slightly adapted the rice recipe, by leaving out the crushed coriander seeds and added freshly chopped parsley. The mint-yogurt sauce was a spur-of-the-moment creation: Using a mortar and pestle grind a tsp of flaky salt with 1 clove of garlic to a paste. Add a small handful of mint leaves, the juice of 1 lime and a dash of extra virgin olive oil and continue grinding until well combined. Add a tub of Greek yogurt (I used Total), mix and season.