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Lamb Mechoui a North African Recipe

Provencal cuisine is a tapestry of culinary influences from all over the Mediterranean, including North Africa. One dish that is perfect for al fresco festive occasions is lamb mechoui (or méchoui) slow-roasted on a spit. For those unfamiliar with mechoui, it is a festive lamb dish from North Africa. It’s usually made from a whole lamb, though small camels, gazelles, or even wild sheep will work in a pinch. Mechoui is intended to serve large gatherings, like a wedding or a joyous celebration. My version starts with a 3-pound boneless lamb shoulder marinated in spiced butter, then slow-cooked over a charcoal fire. But you can even make this in a conventional oven to get an unconventional flavour unto your table.

Lamd Mechoui North African Recipe

Moroccan Lamb Mechoui

Since I do not have enough people to feed a proper mechoui to I generally cook a leg or preferably a shoulder of lamb. The shoulder lends itself to the longer cooking time and yields incredibly tender and juicy meat. I marinate the lamb for at least two hours but preferably overnight. I like to cook the mechoui in a hot smoker or charcoal grill but an oven at 375°F will work as well. Serve with saffron rice or golden couscous.
Prep Time 2 hours
Cook Time 6 hours
Total Time 8 hours 8 minutes
Course Main Dish
Cuisine North African
Servings 8 people


For Spiced Butter:

  • 1.5 tbsp Ground Coriander
  • 1 tbsp garlic chopped
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp Sweet Paprika
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1 cup (226g) Unsalted Butter room temperature (2 sticks)


  • 1 4-5lbs Lamb shoulder deboned (1.8-2.2kg)

For Golden Couscous:

  • 1/4 cup (56ml) olive oil
  • 1 tbsp garlic chopped
  • 1 onion peeled and chopped fine
  • 1 Carrot peeled and chopped fine
  • 1 thin Zucchini washed and chopped fine
  • 2 cups (453g) Israeli Couscous
  • 1 pinch saffron
  • 1 pinch turmeric
  • 1 pinch Cinnamon
  • 1 pinch cumin
  • 2 tbsp Chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup (56g) Dried apricots or raisins diced
  • 1/4 cup (56g) Slivered Almonds toasted
  • 2 cups (454ml) chicken broth


Make the Spiced Butter:

  • Make the spiced butter by beating all the spices with the softened butter.

Prepare the Lamb:

  • Remove any excess fat your lamb shoulder might have. Rub 2/3rds of the softened butter into the meat, covering the entire surface. Let marinate for a minimum of 2 hours at room temperature or overnight in your refrigerator.
  • Preheat oven to 375°F.
  • Place the lamb shoulder onto a rack in a roasting pan and cook for 2 hours, or until the lamb is fully cooked. If you are using a smoker or a charcoal fire let the lamb cook low and slow for 2 to 3 hours, or until the meat is fully cooked and tender.

Make the Golden Couscous:

  • While the lamb is cooking, prepare the golden couscous. In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm the oil until hot.
  • Add the garlic, onion, carrot, and zucchini and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.
  • Add the couscous, saffron, turmeric, cinnamon, and cumin. Stir briefly, then add the parsley, apricots, almonds, and broth.
  • Bring to a boil, then lower to a bare simmer and cook covered until the couscous is tender about 20 minutes.

To Serve Your Mechoui:

  • Remove the cooked lamb shoulder to a cutting board. Carve the meat into thin slices and pour over the remaining spiced butter. Pass the meat and couscous at your table.
Keyword Lamb
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

North African Recipes:

It is possible to find North African spice mixes at most of the big markets and grocery stores in Provence. However, for a journey to Morocco without the cost of airfare, the head to the Marché de Noailles in Marseille, also called the Marché des Capucins. At this animated market, you will discover all the spices you will need for the following North African dishes. While you are there, browse the neighbourhood shops and make sure to stop for a coffee to absorb the atmosphere.

Markets Provence Cote d'Azur Spices


Provencal Menu from the Spice Route


Sweet Moroccan Cucumber Salad

Moroccan Zaalouk d’Aubergine a Spiced Eggplant Salad

Carrot Salad from Marrakesh

Main Dishes:

B’stila b’djej Recipe a Traditional Dish from Morocco

Moroccan Pastillas with Vegetables and Shrimp

Vegetarian Tagine from Marrakesh

Provencal Lamb Chops with Honey and Moroccan Couscous

Traditional Lamb and Chicken Couscous a Moroccan Recipe

Additional Read:

Couscous takes over French Favourites


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Chef François de Mélogue

François de Mélogue grew up in a very French household in Chicago. His earliest attempts at cookery began with the filleting of his sister’s goldfish at age two and a braised rabbit dish made with his pet rabbits by age seven. He eventually stopped cooking his pets and went to the highly esteemed New England Culinary Institute, where he graduated top of his class in 1985.

Chef François has over 30 years of cross-cultural culinary experience and brings an impressive culinary history and a unique Mediterranean cooking style. After graduating top of his class from the notable New England Culinary Institute, Chef François began his career in a number of highly acclaimed kitchens across the country, including Chef Louis Szathmary’s restaurant The Bakery in Chicago, Old Drovers Inn, a Relais and Chateaux property in New York and Joel Robuchon Gastronomie restaurant in Paris, before opening award-winning restaurant Pili Pili in his hometown of Chicago, rated in the Top Ten new restaurants in the World by Food and Wine magazine in 2003.

Chef François resides in St Albans, Vermont with his wife Lisa and ten-year-old son Beaumont, who has proclaimed himself the family saucier. Chef François' latest publication French Cooking for Beginners: 75+ Classic Recipes to Cook Like a Parisian takes you on a culinary journey well beyond the streets of Paris. Francois is a professional photographer specializing in food/product photography, real estate photography and shooting rural landscapes of Vermont and France. Explore his work on

Take a look at his website Simple French Cooking filled with delicious recipes and beautiful photos. Also follow Francois on Medium for more tempting dishes Pistou and Pastis.

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