Mechoui Lamb


This is a Jamie Oliver recipe but I was inspired to cook it not by him, but by my god-daughter Emma and her husband Ben. When I went to their house for Sunday lunch recently, the whole family was there … Emma’s parents, brother, sister … and Ben had cooked two lamb shoulders in this way. It was a wonderful meal and looked fantastic when all laid out on the dining table. I was itching to take a photo (can’t take me anywhere these days where there’s food without me wanting to snap away) but I do try to contain myself with friends. If all my friends thought whenever they had me to a meal I was going to blog away about it, then I’d never get invited anywhere! About halfway through the meal, Emma confessed they’d thought I might blog … so I could have taken that photo after all! But here we are with a different thank-you, both for the great food and company that day and for pointing me towards this recipe. I’d seen it in Jamie Does … but never considered making it. However, I now knew that lamb cooked long and slow in this way was absolutely delicious.

I was also wanting to try out my new oven today (hence a bit of baking for dessert as well, which will come in a separate post tomorrow). My kitchen has just had a great makeover with a sparkling new work top and a new oven. I needed to test the oven: find out how it cooked. I went up to the Village Butcher in Richmond yesterday to buy a shoulder of lamb. It’s where I always go when I want a particularly good piece of meat. Matt found me a smallish shoulder (1.67kg), which was going to be plenty for 3 hungry people. It needed 3 hours cooking so I got started around 4pm.

Rub 50g softened butter all over the lamb shoulder. Then sprinkle over 1 teaspoon ground cumin and 1 teaspoon ground coriander. Remove the little leaves from a few sprigs of fresh thyme and some rosemary; put them in a mortar and pestle with 1 teaspoon sea salt and grind. Then sprinkle that over the lamb and grind over some black pepper. Break open a whole head of garlic and stud the cloves into the butter. Pour 100ml water round the edge and then cover tightly with a double thickness of tin foil.


Put into a pre-heated oven – heat to the maximum heat and then turn down immediately to 180C as you put the lamb in. Leave it all alone for two and a half hours. Then remove the foil and return to the oven so the skin crisps up. After another half an hour, remove and then leave to rest for at least 15 mins … but more if that suits you.


Cover lightly with foil to keep warm. When ready to serve, remove to a warm serving plate. Let the juices at the bottom of the pan bubble away for a while. You pretty much have a ready gravy as the water in the pan while the meat cooked mixes with all the lovely spicy juices that are released; you don’t need to do anything else, just pour into a jug. The meat should be falling apart. Pull it apart a little with two forks and drizzle over a little of the gravy. Then it’s ready to serve.


Jamie suggested serving it with some Greek yogurt with a topping of harissa and pomegranate seeds. My harissa looked a bit unhealthy when I took it from the fridge so I threw it away and just topped the yogurt with the pomegranate. I served the lamb with some roasted butternut squash with a tahini dressing (click here for recipe).


And also a green salad. It had been such a lovely sunny and warm day we were able to eat in the garden.


It wasn’t a particularly summery dish but even so it seemed just right sitting outside. There was something nicely exotic about it (Jamie’s recipe is Moroccan) adding to that slightly holiday feel you can get on a Sunday. What a great way to relax at the end of the weekend.

Posted by

A lifelong lover of good food and travel; writer and book editor

8 thoughts on “Mechoui Lamb

  1. I cook lamb all the time but have never cooked a shoulder. In our market, the large pieces for roasting are always from the leg. Your whole meal sounds delicious.

    1. I usually cook leg too and it’s better for a rare roast but the shoulder takes long, slow cooking and is wonderfully sweet and tender because of the high fat content. By the time this recipe had finished cooking it wasn’t fatty. I’m definitely going to try some more shoulder recipes – and it’s much cheaper too!

Leave a Reply