Whole Roast Spring Lamb Méchoui for Easter
I inherited, from my Mom, a whole whack of great cookbooks, one being this little booklet by Madame Jehane Benoit. It was printed in 1974 and she did it for the Lamb Council of Ontario (a pre- Marketing Board). It featured her on the cover wrapped in a shawl, spit roasting a whole lamb over a fire. The recipe was the last one in the booklet and was called "Spring Lamb Méchoui" and I've always wanted to make it since I was a kid when I 1st saw that photo.
She has you wash the lamb inside and out with diluted apple cider vinegar then pat dry.
You then fill the stomach opening with crushed garlic cloves (12) 3 Tbsp crushed coriander, 5 tbsp coarse salt, 2 Tbsp crushed pepper and two whole lemons sliced, this get sewn-up inside along with 1/2 pound margarine (I've gotta update this to olive oil or butter).
After spiking and trussing the lamb, you rub it with all over with 1 pound margarine (olive oil? butter?) creamed with 2 Tbsp each of paprika, thyme and cumin.
To baste, you melt 1 pound margarine (olive oil? butter?) and add the juice of 3 lemons. Make a basting brush from a big bunch of thyme tied to your sauce mop.
Her rig has the lamb above and beside the fire with pans underneith to catch the drippings to be used as a gravy.
She says the whole thing should take about 3 hours to cook to crispy with constant turning.
So, I'm gonna try this on my big Smoke Pit. I've done plenty of pig roasts, tons of lamb shoulders but never a whole lamb and never this recipe/flavour profile.
I won't have a cavity as I'm gonna spay the lamb out flat. So the rub will have to be a combination of the stuffing and the rub mixture. I'm thinking of using lemon zest.
I'll use charcoal only, no smoking woods and I will place pans on the rack below to catch the juices. I'll be careful about the amount of water in the water jacket below so I don't make too much steam. Otherwise, I think I can pull this off. I promise to take photos this time too.
Any advice or ideas will be appreciated. I've attached a photo of my smoke pit.
Well, it's done. What a success!
I had 30 very happy guests, all of whom left waddling, groaning and smiling.
Here's the method for a pit smoker:
Have the butcher prepare a whole baby lamb, weighing about 25 - 45 pounds on foot. Do not hang longer than 48 hours.
Split open breast bone of lamb and break ribs where the join the spine. Lay lamb out flat. Wash lamb inside and out with a cloth dipped in cider or wine vinegar, mixed half and half with water, then pat dry with paper towels.
12 cloves of garlic
zest of 3 lemons
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
5 tablespoons coarse salt
3 tablespoons coriander seeds
2 teaspoons whole peppercorns
2 tablespoons cumin seed
2 tablespoons paprika
1 pound butter, clarified
2 cups olive oil
Toast spieces in a dry pan. Add to morter and grind fine. Set aside in a large bowl. Pound garlic, zest & thyme in morter. Add salt and make a paste. Add to spices and combine with clarified butter and olive oil. Massage this mixture into the entire lamb and refrigerate until ready to cook.
1/2 pound butter, clarified
1 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
the juice of 3 lemons
1 bouquet fresh thyme
Combine butter, oil, lemon juice and thyme leaves. Leave in a warm place to baste the lamb as it cooks (about every 15 - 20 minutes). Use a basting mop with the bouquet of thyme tied to it.
2 Cups veal, beef or lamb stock
2 cups Madeira wine
Ignite 2 bags of charcoal, enough to last 3 - 4 hours. Lay lamb, skin side down on an upper level grid. Under the lamb place a large baking tray or make one with a double layer of heavy duty foil to catch the drippings to be used as gravy.
Close the smoker and turn over once, after 2 hours.
It usually takes 3 - 4 hours, the lamb when ready should be golden brown and crisp on the outside and the meat very juicy on the inside. When ready to serve remove juice in pan – then pour the whole into a hot saucepan. Add stock and Madeira. Let the whole get hot while scraping the pan and add to the meat juices in the saucepan. Serve very hot, easy to do by reheating a few seconds over the hot charcoals.
To serve get a good carver to cut it. Remove from que (bungie stakes removed) to a large table covered with oilcloth – with a hot platter in front of lamb to place cut meat – each one helps himself and always enjoys the delicate fine flavour that only a roasted “Méchoui” can give to the lamb.
1/2 cup coarse salt
1/4 cup cumin seed
1 tablespoon pepper corns
The Moroccans place on tables bowls of coarse salt mixed with ground cumin & pepper – 2 tablespoons salt to 1tablespoon cumin – they dip their pieces of meat lightly into it. You may enjoy trying it! Toast & grind spices, mix with salt and put out in little bowls.