Mechoui is traditionally prepared by roasting a whole lamb, either on a spit over a fire or in a pit in the ground. Ideally you want to allow 4.5-5 hours to slow cook our version. This adaptation of this middle-eastern classic makes a delicious chermoula sauce which works really well as a dipping sauce if you have any left over. You’ll ideally want to prepare the lamb shoulder 24 hours in advance or you can leave the lamb in the marinade for up to 48 hours if you want a more deeply marinated flavour.
- Start by grinding up the cumin and fennel seeds into a powder using a pestle and mortar or a spice grinder. Blitz the chermoula ingredients in a blender and slowly pour in the oil, scraping the ingredients from the side of the mixing bowl as you go along. If you find you need more oil, feel free to add more to make sure your chermoula forms a thick paste.
- Next, set your lamb shoulder in a pan. With a paring knife, make some small incisions all over. This will help the marinade really penetrate the meat. Now pour your chermoula into a bowl so it’s easier for you to coat the lamb shoulder.
- Start by turning the lamb shoulder over, pour around 1/3 of the marinade on, making sure it’s fully coated. Turn it back over and tip over the rest of the marinade. Cover loosely in cling film and place in the fridge until you’re ready to cook.
- The next day (i.e. 24 hours later), remove the lamb shoulder from the fridge at least 30-40 minutes before you want to cook it – allowing it to come closer to room temperature will allow the lamb to cook more evenly. Set your oven at 180ºC and allow it to come up to temperature. Put your lamb in a roasting tin. Take your peeled shallots and coat in any excess marinade from the marinating pan. Stack them around the lamb. Cover the roasting tray in aluminium foil, making sure you tightly seal the edges of the roasting tin.
- Check the lamb after 4-4.5 hours to see if the meat if tender enough yet for you to pull away some of the meat with a pair of tongs. Ultimately, you’re aiming to be able to pull this meat easily with a pair of forks. If you can easily pull it, you’ll now want to brown the top and create a wonderful crust; if not, reseal the foil and cook for another 30-40 minutes. If your lamb is ready, remove the foil (set aside) and allow to cook for another 15-20 minutes.
- Carefully remove the shallots and set aside in a bowl. Allow the lamb to rest for 15 minutes before you start shredding it, but place the original foil loosely back on top so it stays hot. Pull the lamb meat off in chunks, creating a mixture of large and shredded pieces, and mix with the cooking juices. Place in a serving pan or dish. Add the soft, sweet, cooked shallots on top and sprinkle with toasted flaked almonds.
- To make the tagine, heat olive oil over medium heat until just shimmering in a large heavy pot, Dutch Oven or traditional tagine. Add shallots and garlic and increase the heat to medium-high. Sauté for around 5 minutes, stirring regularly. Add all the chopped veggies. Season with a pinch of salt and add all the spices, including harissa. Mix to combine. Cook for 10 minutes on medium-high heat, mixing regularly. Add chopped tomatoes, maple syrup, apricots, and stock. Season again with just a small dash of salt. Cover and cook for around 35-40 minutes in an oven at 180ºC.
- To finish, stir in lemon juice and fresh parsley. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more salt or harissa spice to your liking. Transfer to serving bowls and serve hot flatbreads, labneh and the mechoui lamb. Enjoy!