There are only 2 ways to eat lamb in my opinion. That's either cooked medium rare or slow-cooked/smoked. Here I have opted for a delicious slow-cooked Moroccan lamb recipe. The lamb is rubbed in a delicious Moroccan spiced butter and slowly cooked in the oven for 5-6 hours. It will literally make your mouth water and the smells, oh you are going to want to leave your doors and windows own so all the neighbours can get a whiff too;)
Why I Love This Moroccan Lamb Recipe
Yes, it's a little time consuming to make but once you have chucked it in the oven then you can just leave it alone for hours! Given you are having pulled lamb leg it's also kinda hard to overcook it too! I think the main reason I love this dish is it's a show stopper. Put this down in the middle of the table and (unless you are vegetarian) it'll be hard not to dive in. Don't forget to read on and check out my delicious Grenache wine pairing too!
Cooking Leg of Lamb Slowly
The key to having a delicious slow-cooked lamb leg is patience. It takes about 5 hours to make at the least but sometimes can take a little longer too. Whip up your spiced butter, rub the lamb and then pop it in the oven at a low temperature. My recommendation is if you are planning a 6pm dinner then aim to have the lamb ready by 5pm to give yourself a little time if it takes longer.
Halfway through, wrap it in foil to stop it burning and you can keep cooking it for a little longer if necessary. You are looking for an internal temp of about 90-93c but the best way to test "doneness" is through probing it. The meat should be like softened butter when probing. Once cooked, allow the meat to rest for about 15-20 minutes before serving
Moroccan Lamb Spice Mixture
For this slow-cooked Moroccan lamb leg I have made a delicious Moroccan spiced butter and rubbed the lamb in it. Alternatively, you can use oil instead of butter - defo a little healthier but hey, you only live once! Add some deep incisions to the lamb leg with your knife so that as it's roasting it soaks up all that butter and spice goodness.
These days, you can buy some great spice rubs previously made up but if like me you have tons of little jars in the cupboard from that one time you made some homemade hummus and needed cumin well nows the time to let that cumin shine!
I have used salt, pepper, cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne (for a little spice), garlic powder, ground ginger & ground coriander. Simply mix them all together and you have a delicious Moroccan spice blend perfect for rubbing on any meat. If you are going down the spiced butter route just stir it into softened butter or mix it with olive oil for a healthier option.
What To Serve With Slow Cooked Lamb
Whenever I have smoked lamb or slow-cooked lamb in the oven I tend to lean towards food with spice. I often add a fresh or creamy element like a salsa or a yoghurt dipping sauce too. Slow-cooked lamb, in my opinion, isn't one for those classic roasted veggies. It does well with things like pita bread, herb forward salads, citrus yoghurts etc.
For my slow-cooked Moroccan lamb dish I went with some couscous and keeping in theme I made a delicious pomegranate salsa too. Read on and see how simple it is to make both!
Easy Pomegranate Salsa
It's in the title! This pomegranate salsa is super easy to make. My one bit of advice is to make it while the lamb is resting. When you make it in advance the bright green and red colours mix together and you get a dull greyish colour. Still tastes great but we eat with our eyes!
What's the best way to deseed a pomegranate you ask? Simple. Slice around the top of the pomegranate (the bit that looks like a crown) about 1-2 cm deep. Once the "crown" has been removed you can see the delicious pomegranate arils and the white membrane bits too. Slice from top to bottom down the membrane around the pomegranate and just simple pull each wedge back to expose all the little red-purple arils.
What Wine Goes With Lamb
The first and obvious answer to this question is the wine you like to drink! Often, we get caught up on the "best" wines to pair with food. Yes, as someone who has an extensive wine cellar and enjoys cooking, eating & drinking I like to try to match the food and wine as best I can but there are days when I just want a glass of rose or chardonnay but I am having steak for dinner!
With lamb, if I was cooking a nice cutlet served medium rare with simple flavours I might choose a pinot noir. A classic stews with red wine and trimmings I might want something a bit fuller like a shiraz or cabernet. With a lamb dish that has a lot of spices, I choose Grenache. Which in this case is great as the guys I am talking about are leading the way in Grenache here in Australia!
As mentioned above (if you read it), Giles & co are definitely lovers of Grenache. I think at this stage they have about 7 different red Grenache, 1 rose Grenache (the best rose is made from Grenache in my opinion) and 1 Grenache blanc. If these guys don't know what they are doing with it then who does! I first stumbled across their wines when a mate brought a bottle over and boy am I glad he did. Currently, I have about 600 bottles in my cellar and 10% of them are made up of Thistledown!
I got talking to Paddy - the man on the ground here in Australia and soon found out that he is from Scotland, not far from where my father grew up. With a name like Thistledown, I always suspected there was a Scottish influence! Giles & Fergal the 2 masterminds behind it are both Masters in Wine - in case you don't know it's bloody hard to obtain! So there is a wealth of knowledge going into wine production and trust me, it shows in the bottle too.
Why not join their MAILING LIST and get up to date info on the wines, vintage and a sneaky discount too 😉
Aside from Grenache, they make a number of Shiraz and a couple of Chardys too. They focus on single-vineyard wines and single blocks from vineyards too. The wines are made in small batches and packaged in some of the best labels I have seen anywhere 😉 All in all it's the complete package.
Grenache Food Pairing
As discussed, we are pairing this delicious slow-cooked Moroccan lamb with some Grenache. One of the requests from Giles was something with a little spice to it and knowing how good Grenache is with slow-cooked lamb I figured let's add a Moroccan twist to it too. Grenache itself has a number of spices to it and this Thistledown Vagabond Grenache isn't short in that department.
For me, I get notes of chocolate, coffee, cranberry, pomegranates and a little orange peel too. This moves into some cherry flavours and a little licorice too. Beautiful spicy notes, a kiss of oak with medium tannins. The acidity is well balanced and there is good length too. It's a baby right now and definitely opens up more after 30 minutes in the decanter. My advice is pick up 3-6 of them and enjoy them over the next few years. You will be well rewarded!
Alternative Lamb Recipes
Inspired by my slow-cooked Moroccan lamb recipe and need more lamb in your life? Check out these recipes from my site and other fellow foodies too!
BBQ Easy Carve Lamb Leg by Yours Truly
Crispy Lamb Wraps by Robyn Jones of 'Mrs Jones Kitchen'
Scottish Lamb Stew by Yours Truly
Slow Cooker Lamb Ragu by Kim Morris of 'My Sugar Free Kitchen'
Lamb Backstrap, Smoked Pumpkin & Dukkah by Yours Truly
Lamb Turkish Pide by Harriet Britto of 'Recipe Pocket'
Red Wine & Chocolate Braised Lamb Shanks by Yours Truly
- 2.5 kg lamb leg or shoulder
- 70 g butter softened
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1 tsp cumin
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp cayenne
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 150 g couscous
- 150 g red onion
- 200 g capsicum
- 100 g zucchini
- 100 g raisins
- 50 g pinenuts optional
- 25 g coriander roughly chopped
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 2 pomegranate
- 1/2 cucumber
- 2 jalapenos
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- 1/2 red onion
- 80 ml olive oil
- roasting tray & wire rack
- Chef Knives
- Chopping board
- Measuring utensils
- mixing bowls x 2 (1 large & 1 small)
- Mix all the spice rub ingredients together
- With a sharp knife make deep pricks into the lamb – this helps the flavour of the rub go through the lamb
- Rub the lamb all over with the butter/spice rub and place on a wire rack in a roasting tin
- Roast @ 150c for 5 hours or until internal temperature is about 93c *see tips*
- Remove from oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving
- Cook cous cous according to packet
- Slice all the vegetables into 1cm cube pieces and fry in 1 tbsp olive oil and a pinch of salt
- Combine cooked cous cous with vegetables, lime juice, raisins, pinenuts & coriander together and set aside until ready
- Remove pomegranate arils from pomegranate
- Dice cucumber, red onion & jalapeno into small pieces – similar size to the pomegranate arils
- Combine all ingredients together and serve *see tips*
- you don’t need to add all the veggies to the couscous – if you want to serve it plain you can also do that but I like little extra veggies in mine personally
- the couscous can be made in advance and served cold
- make the pomegranate salsa as the lamb rests – the longer you leave the salsa combine the colour turns from a nice bright green and purple colour to a duller grey colour. It tastes fine made in advance but not as pleasing to the eye
- when roasting the lamb if you feel the outside is getting too brown then cover with foil and continue to cook. I did so after about 3 hours