Mechoui Lamb with Crushed Potatoes and Tomatoes

2013 Sep/Oct

Smen is a type of butter used in North African countries. It’s cooked, generously seasoned and then fermented. This version is much less elaborate than traditional Moroccan recipes, but the flavour is delicious. Use the leftover smen as a rub for roast chicken.


For the smen:

  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 T. each ground ginger, cumin and coriander
  • 2 t. chile flakes
  • 2 t. smoked sweet paprika
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 bunch Italian parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 c. butter, softened
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the lamb:

  • 1 bone-in leg of lamb
  • 1 lb. baby potatoes
  • 1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 c. black olives, pitted
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • 1 small bunch fresh mint leaves, finely chopped


To make the smen, place all of the ingredients in a food processor. Season generously with salt and pepper and blend to a fine paste. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Preheat oven to 450°F. Score the lamb leg in a crisscross pattern, then rub the leg all over with the prepared smen. You may not need to use all of it. Place the lamb in a dish and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, then bring the lamb up to room temperature for
1 hour before you plan on cooking it.

Meanwhile, place the potatoes in a saucepan filled with cold, salted water and bring to a boil. Parboil for 10 minutes, then drain and crush them roughly with a fork. Combine the potatoes with the tomatoes and olives, season to taste and drizzle with olive oil. Set aside.

Place the lamb in a roasting dish and add about 1/4 c. water to the pan. Roast for 20 minutes. Turn the heat down to 350°F. and roast for 3 hours, basting occasionally. The meat should be tender with a crispy layer of skin. Scatter the potatoes, tomatoes and olives around the lamb and roast for another 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the meat rest, covered, for 15 minutes before serving, sprinkled with chopped mint.

Serves 4.