×

Help us help you

If we have helped you become a better cook, please become a Pitmaster Club member and help us become a better website. Benefits for members include:

(1) Seminars with famous Pitmaster Professors
(2) Access to The Pit forum and scores of new friends
(3) An expanded Temperature Guide Magnet that selles for $9.95
(4) Gold Medal Giveaways of free grills and smokers
(5) Support for Operation BBQ Relief

Learn more about the Pitmaster Club

Not ready to subscribe yet? Return to AmazingRibs.com

AmazingRibs.com BBQ Logo

Moroccan Lamb Mechoui

"We're off on the road to Morocco, This camel is tough on the spine (hit me with a Band-Aid, Dad). Where they're going, why we're going, how can we be sure? I'll lay you eight to five that we'll meet Dorothy Lamour." Lyrics by Bing Crosby

In North Africa, especially Morocco, the Islamic cooking is refined, influenced heavily by settlers from France, Spain, and even Jewish culture.

barbecue lamb mechoui

In Morocco, Mechoui means "roasted on an open fire." Lamb is the most common animal used for mechoui, although the term can be used for other animals and even vegetables. Lamb is usually roasted on a spit, and often the cavity is filled with organ meats, herbs, or fruits.

Mechoui is often served for Eid al-Adha is the Islamic holiday that commemorates the story from the Koran (and the Old Testament) of Ibrahim (Abraham), who was asked by his god to sacrifice his son Ishmael (Isaac) as a test of his devotion. At the last minute, as Ibrahim was about to consummate the sacrifice, god told him to stop, a lamb (or ram) appeared nearby, and was offered instead.

Today "The Feast of the Slaughter of the Lamb" is celebrated in most Islamic households usually in November. When possible, a lamb is slaughtered the day of the feast.

Instead of a whole a whole lamb, a leg of lamb will feed at least a dozen hungry guests. This meat is marinated overnight in charmoula, a typical North African sauce and marinade. It is then sprinkled with ras el hanout, a dry spice mix also common to the region, grilled, and served with harissa, a classic hot pepper paste.

You can roast the whole leg on the grill with the bone in, but that's hard to carve. Bone gets in the way. You can remove the bone and tie it up with string and slice it thin when it's done. That's very nice, but there's not a lot of surface for the marinade to penetrate, trussing it is tricky, and it can take hours to cook. I prefer to cut the leg into large chunks, about 2" square, and grill them quickly with the lid open so they are crispy outside and red and tender and juicy inside. You can skewer them, but metal skewers get hot and cook the meat on the inside. I just make large chunks and grill them.

Lamb Mechoui Recipe

Makes. 12 servings

Preparation time. 30 minutes to carve up the meat and 30 minutes to make the charmoula marinade

Marination time. 4-24 hours

Cooking time. 15 minutes

Ingredients

1 leg of lamb, about 4 pounds

4 tablespoons ras el hanout spice mix

1 1/2 cup charmoula herb paste

1/2 cup harissa hot pepper paste

Shortcut. If you don't want to make charmoula, you can use something close like chimichurri sauce, or an oil and vinegar salad dressing such as My Wife's Italian Vinaigrette, or you can use my sheep dip, my favorite lamb marinade.

Method

1) Have your butcher remove the bone from the leg and cut off about 6-8" of the shank. Freeze the shank for later use. If you get the leg bone still in, you can cut off the shank with a saw and remove the bone with a filleting knife. Remove the thick fat cap, the thin silverskin membrane, and any tendons, sinew, and cartilage while you take the meat apart. I try to remove muscles intact and cut them up into large chunks. Inevitably you will end up with chunks of varying sizes. Group them according to size so you can cook each size for a differnt lenght of time. Or you can freeeze one group for later. Put the meat in a nonreactive pan and cover all surfaces with charmoula. Marinate 4-24 hours if possible. An hour will do, but longer is better.

2) Preheat the grill as hot as you can get it. Sprinkle the ras el hanout on the meat generously, but not thick. Grill on one side until it releases from the grate easily and gets good grill marks. Roll it onto the opposite side and take the temp of several pieces immediately. Small pieces will cook fast, and grills have hotspots, so test many pieces. Use this meat temperature guide to decide when to take it off. I usually pull it at 125-130°F for rare meat. Serve with couscous and harissa sauce on the side.

This page was revised

Return to top

Please read this before posting a comment or question

grouchy?1) Please use the table of contents or the search box at the top of every page before you ask for help, then please post your question on the appropriate page.

2) Please tell us everything we need to know to answer your question such as the type of cooker and thermometer you are using. Dial thermometers are often off by as much as 50°F so if you are not using a good digital thermometer we probably can't help you. Please read this article about thermometers.

3) If you post a photo, wait a minute for a thumbnail to appear. It will happen even if you don't see it happen.

4) Click here to learn more about our comment system and our privacy promise. Remember, your login info for comments is probably different from your Pitmaster Club login info if you are a member.

Return to top

Return to top

LeaderDog.org Ad on BBQ site

About this website. AmazingRibs.com is all about the science of barbecue, grilling, and outdoor cooking, with great BBQ recipes, tips on technique, mythbusting, and unbiased equipment reviews. Learn how to set up your grills and smokers properly, the thermodynamics of what happens when heat hits meat, and how to cook great food outdoors. There are also buying guides to barbeque smokers, grills, accessories, and thermometers, as well as hundreds of excellent tested recipes including all the classics: Baby back ribs, pulled pork, Texas brisket, burgers, chicken, smoked turkey, lamb, steaks, chili, barbecue sauces, spice rubs, and side dishes, with the world's best all edited by Meathead Goldwyn.

Brought to you by readers like you who support us with their membership in our Pitmaster Club. Click here to learn more about benefits to membership.

Advertising. AmazingRibs.com is by far the most popular barbecue website in the world, still growing rapidly, and one of the 25 most popular food websites in the US according to comScore, Quantcast, Compete, and Alexa. Click here for analytics and advertising info.

© Copyright 2005 - 2015 by AmazingRibs.com. All text, recipes, photos, and computer code are owned by AmazingRibs.com and fully protected by US copyright law unless otherwise noted (some photos of commercial products such as grills were provided by the manufacturers and are under their copyright). This means that it is a Federal crime to copy and publish or distribute anything on this website without permission. But we're easy! We usually grant permission and don't charge a fee. To get reprint rights, just click here. You do not need permission to link to this website.