A Sunday Lunch of Moroccan Mechoui and Lamb

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This time of year, lamb makes a wonderful Sunday roast.  At the weekend we bought a leg of lamb from J Seal Butchers in Barnes (established over a hundred years ago).  They source their lamb from Devon, and like most good butchers, the meat is hung to create a better flavour and texture than supermarket meats.

Lamb is a good source of high quality protein, essential for the building processes of the body (and to satisfy the appetite).  It is rich in  monounsaturated (and some saturated) fat, and if bought from a good source, will also contain a good balance of omega 3 and omega 6 essential fatty acids.  It also contains key minerals and vitamins including iron, zinc and B-vitamins.

Since we came back from Morocco in October, we have regularly been improvising with  Moroccan flavours.  Sunday lunch with my parents and an old family friend was a recipe for Mechoui Lamb amended from Rick Stein’s Mediterranean Escapes book.  Mechoui lamb is a celebratory Berber dish, and consists of a lamb cooked whole on the spit.  It is slow cooked so the lamb is very tender, almost falling off the bone, and is heavily flavoured with Moroccan herbs and spices (in this case, cumin).  This version of the dish works very well as everything is prepared well in advance to leave time for you to converse properly with your guests.

Serves 6
4-5 hours

  • Large shoulder (or leg) of lamb (2-3kg)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds, toasted
  • 11/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 50g butter, softened
  • Salt and pepper

For the final seasoning:

  • 1 tbsp toasted cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp Maldon salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper]
  1. Preheat oven to 160C.
  2. Using a sharp knife, stab the meat all over on both sides.
  3. Mix together the toasted cumin seeds, garlic and smoked paprika with a teaspoon of salt and massage into the meat, forcing it down into the slits you have made with the knife.
  4. Place the lamb on a baking tin and roast for 4-5 hours, basting it regularly with the juices, until crisp and charred (inside will be tender).
  5. Place toasted cumin seeds in mortar and grind with pestle, adding salt and pepper to the seeds.
  6. Serve the lamb broken up or torn into pieces, sprinkled with the seasoning and topped with pomegranate seeds.
  7. We served ours with mashed cannelini beans and roasted onions, courgettes and red peppers.  We added a generous handful of chopped flat-leaf parsley, and ate it with the Moroccan harissa I bought in the Mellah in October, and still going strong.

We served the lamb with a good bottle of Rhône red, but it would work equally well with a nice bottle of Lebanese Château Musar.

The lamb tasted almost better cold as left-overs.  We served with houmous, and the ubiquitous harissa.

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