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Monday, March 30, 2009

Lamb Shoulder Mechoui

Lamb Shoulder Mechoui
Originally uploaded by Foodmomiac
Last August, I went to one of my local farmers' markets, and I ended up with a giant frozen lamb shoulder from Mint Creek Farm. I walked up to the lamb stand to buy sausage, which I purchased as well, but then the farmer up-sold me on the shoulder. I was certain I'd make it that week, but when I started researching recipes, I realized that bone-in lamb shoulder is not the easiest cut to prepare. So, the giant lamb shoulder went into my freezer and sat there for nearly eight months. I am happy to report that the lamb has finally been cooked and eaten, and it was a huge success.

I'm not sure why I didn't turn to Paula Wolfert in the first place, but she provided me my lamb shoulder solution. The reason I had delayed this so long is that most chefs suggest boning the shoulder prior to cooking, but I had no desire. The shoulder has a ton of weird bones, and that would have been a nightmare. The preparation you see above is called Mechoui, and it's basically just a slow-roasted lamb. The recipe is in her book, Couscous and Other Good Food from Morocco.

I combined 5 Tb. softened butter, 2 tsp. cumin, 1 tsp. paprika and 4 cloves of minced garlic and rubbed it all over the lamb (Wolfert also calls for ground coriander, but I didn't have any, and we were in the midst of a giant spring snowstorm in Chicago, so I didn't want to go to the store). The lamb was first roasted at 475 degrees for 15 minutes. At that point, I used my silicone pastry brush to make sure that the butter mixture was coating the entire piece of meat. The heat got turned down to 350 degrees, and I roasted the lamb for an additional three hours, basted it with the drippings every 15 minutes.

We ended up with meat that fell right off the bone. The Moroccan flavor permeated the entire piece of meat and it was just delicious. Wolfert suggests picking at the meat with your fingers, which we did for the most part.

Michael decided last minute to attend a hockey game with a buddy, so I was joined by my friend Joni and her two kids. All four kids loved the lamb, though Max kept calling it chicken. I also served mashed sweet potatoes and a Greek salad. It was a great little meal, and my freezer finally has its bottom drawer back. Phew!


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