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.
Moroccan Lamb Mechoui
For Spiced Butter:
- 1.5 tbsp Ground Coriander
- 1 tbsp Chopped Garlic
- 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 Chopped Garlic
- 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.
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.