Moroccan roas lamb or (Mashwi) is traditionally prepared by roasting a whole lamb either on a spit over a fire or in a pit in the ground. The meat is consumed by hand with salt and cumin for dipping.
As most home ovens can't accommodate a whole lamb, this mashwi recipe calls for slowly roasting a leg of lamb or shoulder in the oven until the meat is tender enough to pull off the bone.
Slow roasting with a very low temperature can take up to nine hours, depending on the thickness of the meat cut, but you'll find the long cooking time very well worth the wait as the lamb will be so buttery tender that it can easily be pulled from the bone by hand.
I’m including directions for shorter roasting methods also in case you are short in time. All the following three methods can be used to roast a half lamb or some parts of the lamb if your oven can handle the size of it.
- Trim excess fat from the shoulder or leg of lamb, and make a multiple deep cuts into the meat with a sharp knife tip.
- Combine the butter with the garlic, salt, pepper, cumin, saffron, turmeric, and olive oil. Spread this spice mix over the entire shoulder or leg of lamb, inserting some butter into the incisions made with the knife.
- Place the meat in a roasting pan, and proceed with one of the roasting methods below.
2 Hours Method
- Heat the oven to 475 F. Wrap the exposed lower leg or shoulder of the lamb in foil to prevent it from burning. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil, and half cup of water to the pan, and roast the meat, uncovered, for 1 to 2 hours, basting frequently, until the lamb is well cooked and the juices run clear when a fork is inserted deep into the meat.
- If the meat get browned before the juices are clear, cover the leg or the shoulder with loose foil to prevent further darkening.
- Put the lamb into a platter and allow it to rest for at least 10 minutes before serving. If needed, the juices can be added over and around the meat. Serve dishes of cumin and salt on the side for dipping.
4 Hours Method
When there is no much time, this method also can work fine, but the leg or shoulder of lamb won't be quite as tender as the following slow method. However, the meat will have more of a crisp crust, which some people may like it that way.
- Heat the oven to 475 F. Add half cup of water into a pan, and roast the meat, uncovered, for 20 minutes.
- Reduce the heating temperature to 325 F and continue roasting the meat, basting occasionally, for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, or until the lamb get tender, the juices run clear and the meat get a dark, crisp crust.
- Transfer the leg or shoulder to a platter and allow it to rest for ten minutes before serving. If you want, the juices can be poured over and around the meat. As before, serve dishes of cumin and salt on the side for dipping.
9 Hours Method
This is the most preferred slow method for Moroccans.
Heat the oven to 250 F.
- Place the leg or shoulder of lamb into a roasting pan and cover with foil, make sure to seal the edges tightly. Roast the meat, basting hourly and resealing the foil each time, for 7 to 8 hours, or until the juices run clear and the lamb is tender enough to pull off the bone by hand.
- Remove the foil and increase the oven temperature to 475 F. Brown the meat, basting frequently, for 15 to 30 minutes, or until the meat is well-colored.
- Put the meat into a platter and allow it to rest for ten minutes before serving. If needed, add the juices over and around the meat. You may serve on the side, dishes of salt and cumin.