I am trying to replicate a method to cook lamb I experienced in a North African restaurant in Paris. The dish was called "mechoui" (which is a whole-hog ... hmm... lamb outdoor roasting tradition), but when I asked the chef he said all he did was cook the lamb pieces at 300F (180C) for 1hr in the oven with no fat, just some coarse salt.

The lamb (typically a sub section of lamb shoulder with some bone) was served just about fall of the bone tender, with plenty of delicious browned bits. It was clearly roasted and not braised.

Each time I have tried to replicate this I end up with a messy & disappointing situation: plenty of liquid released in the pan, no browning, and tough meat.

What would people recommend?


1 Answer 1


That temperature is fine, but is never, ever going to produce “fall off the bone” in one hour. That requires hydrolysis of collagen into gelatin, which takes significantly longer. It’s possible the chef was describing how he finished the lamb, after a longer (and possibly wetter) cook at a lower temperature.

Don’t worry too much about losing liquid. That is absolutely going to happen with long, slow cooking, even if you’re boiling the meat. The “moistness” of long-roasted meat comes from rendered gelatin, not from hoarding the juices. With very long dry cooking you do run some risk of drying out (this will manifest as a thick dry 'bark' on the meat, not as dryness throughout), but just tenting the meat with foil should avoid that.

Try three hours at 180, covering with foil until the last half hour. This will probably produce more fall-off-the-bone than you'd like, but it's a good starting point.

  • 1
    You'd struggle to 'dry out' a lamb shoulder, they've usually got lots of striated fat & connective tissue that's going to go super gooey & fall apart tender when cooked as Sneftel is suggesting here Oct 19, 2020 at 5:21
  • I bet my grandmother could have done it @RadioRaheem, she had the superpower of being able to dry out anything!
    – GdD
    Oct 19, 2020 at 8:30
  • One issue with my tries is that I used lamb leg instead of lamb shoulder, and it's very possible the cut was dryer to start with.
    – JDelage
    Oct 19, 2020 at 22:19
  • 1
    No, that cut should behave the same way. It’s the cooking time at fault.
    – Sneftel
    Oct 20, 2020 at 6:19

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.