Mechoui is a typical North African pit-roasted lamb. Usually served at great celebrations, this dish involves roasting the entire lamb in a pit dug in the ground. As this is nigh onto impossible in the United States, and defenitely a no-no in New York, I devised this variation, which uses the mechoui spices to make a marinade for the leg of lamb, which is then cooked in the normal way in the oven.


one 4-pound leg of lamb

1 clove of garlic, slivered

juice of 3 lemons

3 tablespoons dende oil

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

2 scallions, including the green tops, minced

salt to taste

freshly ground black pepper to taste


Make about ten small incisions in the leg of lamb. Insert the garlic slivers in the incisions. Then prepare a marinade of the remaining ingredients and rub half of it over the leg of lamb. Reserve the remaining marinade. Allow the lamb to sit for half an hour, then preheat the oven to 450 F. Place the lamb on a rack in a roasting pan. Set the pan in the preheated oven and sear the lamb for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 F and continue to cook the lamb. Allow 10 minutes per pound for rare meat, 15 minutes per pound for medium, and 20 minutes per pound for well done. These times include the searing. When the lamb is done, mix any pan drippings with the reserved marinade to make a dipping sauce and serve hot.


Serves eight to ten.


country : Mauritania

course : meat dish


source : Iron Pots & Wooden Spoons : Africa’s Gifts to New World Cooking / Jessica B. Harris