Sunday, 28 April 2013

Mechoui Lamb

Some of our friends have a pomegranate tree, and this year it has produced some lovely fruit, which they were kind enough to bring into the office and give away. The seeds are a lighter pink than the ones I've seen in the store, and they are tart, astringent, and aromatic. I wanted to set them off well in a dish that really needed their sharp, middle-eastern flavour, and as it happened a friend had mentioned this Jamie Oliver recipe for mechoui lamb on Facebook. I bought a whole shoulder of lamb and gave it a go! Verdict: needs improvement.

The recipe itself is missing half of the ingredients mentioned in the text, which makes it quite confusing reading. 3 hours at 220C was not enough to get my lamb to 'fall off the bone', so what Jamie implied was a little action with a couple of forks turned into a full-on Silence of the Lambs cleaver job, with plenty of swearing and bits of lamb going everywhere. I improvised a roasting rack out of a few stalks of celery, and the resulting broth under the lamb was absolutely heavenly... but the recipe makes no use of it! It was also expensive: the whole thing took around four hours, most of which was spent with the oven on, and the lamb cost around $30, but it only fed two of us, with a little lamb for leftovers. And the spice rub went entirely on to the fat and bone, so was completely wasted. It also seems really odd to have a salad with a meal that you have to eat with your hands. Not to mention it had too much dressing for the surface area of the carrot, so it all ended up at the bottom of the bowl, wasted. Much better to include the salad ingredients IN the flatbread - the flavour combination was great, but Jamie's execution was terrible. So here follows my amended recipe, which I look forward to trying sometime.


  • 300g lamb neck fillet
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 orange
  • 1 carrot
  • a handful of fresh mint
  • half a pomegranate
  • a little natural yoghurt (optional)

Trim off any really fatty bits on the fillet, then rub in the spices. Roast in a 220C oven or bbq on a grill for 15-20 minutes, until cooked but still pink and tender on the inside; turn off the oven and remove the lamb to rest. Meanwhile, deseed the pomegranate into a bowl. Segment the orange over a salad bowl, letting the juices drip in. Peel the carrot and finely julienne with a sharp knife. (If you're in a hurry, you could grate it, but the texture won't be quite right.) Shred the mint and combine with the orange and carrot.

Pop the flatbreads in the still-hot oven for 30-50 seconds, until hot. Slice the rested lamb into thin disks and toss with the carrot and orange, then pile into the flatbreads and top with pomegranate seeds, and yoghurt, if using.

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