Friday, July 20, 2007

Grilled Lamb Kebabs (Kebobs, Kabobs)

Mmmmm. Lamb. I love lamb. Tasty on its own with a sprinkling of salt and pepper, lamb takes to marinade like a duck takes to water. Which is what you will find out for yourself if you prepare the recipe below.

Lamb is a lightly marbled, lean meat with most of the fat blanketing the outside, which is easily dispatched with a sharp knife. Inner fat is mostly along the connective tissues between muscles, also easily removed, leaving luscious, lower fat, healthful meat. Yep, I said healthful. Take a look here to read why that is.

I recently received an 8-pound boned and butterflied leg of lamb courtesy of the American Lamb Board. The lamb came from Superior Farms in Dixon, California, a mere 8 miles from where I grew up in Davis.

"At Superior Farms we pride ourselves on not only the quality product we offer, but the superior care with which we give our animals," Angela, a representative from Superior Farms, told me. "Not only do we follow and exceed the requirements of the
Humane Slaughter Act," she continued, "we are inspected throughout the day, every day by USDA Food Safety Inspection Service personnel. We are audited annually by an outside third party - specifically addressing animal welfare prior to and during harvest. Our management team, as well as the on-line workers have all gone through animal welfare and humane handling training and a refresher course is given annually. We have even had Dr. Temple Grandin, the leading animal behaviorist concerning humane treatment of livestock, visit one of our plants to further improve our handling practices."

That was encouragement enough. My lamb arrived and I quickly divided it into sections that will allow me to share with you at least 4 delicious ways to prepare this tasty and healthful meat.

Grilled Lamb Kebabs
Click here to print recipe
Christine's Original Marinade Recipe
(Marinade - measurements approximate)
1/4 - 1/3 cup cup good olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Turkish oregano (mine is from Penzey's, courtesy of the American Lanb Board)
generous pinch of Kosher salt
generous grindings of good black peppercorns (I only use Tellicherry)
1/2 cup dry red wine

18 to 24 pieces lean lamb, from a boneless leg, cut into 1-inch x 2-inch rectangular chunks
1 large sweet onion cut into 10 or 12 wedges
1 large red bell pepper cut into 1-inch square pieces
2 portobello mushroom caps cut into 10 or 12 wedges
1 basket juicy red grape tomatoes or any tasty cherry tomatoes
olive oil

Mix all the marinade ingredients in a deep glass bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.
Add the lamb chunks, cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or longer or even overnight if possible. Turn the lamb to make sure it gets fully coated with the marinade.
Prepare all the vegetables.
Have 6 skewers ready.
Remove the lamb from the marinade. Discard the marinade.
Beginning and ending with a piece of onion, thread the lamb and vegetables onto the skewers, making them fit snugly against eachother. I threaded the lamb through its 2-inch dimension and the tomatoes longwise, through the stem end.
Place the kebabs in a roasting pan and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. You can sprinkle them with kosher salt and black pepper if desired.
Grill the kebabs over medium-high heat until the lamb reaches an internal temperature of 140 degrees.
Remove the skewers from the heat and allow the kebabs to rest in a warm place for 5 to 10 minutes. The lamb will continue to cook and raise in temperature to at least 145 degrees which is medium-rare. Grill lamb longer if you prefer it to be more done.
Cook's Notes:
Because I started late in the day, I marinated the lamb for just one hour and it was flavorful, juicy and succulent.
I served these kebabs over a bed of crisp salad greens that had been tossed with my golden balsamic viniagrette.
I used a Saint Joseph 2000 Rhone Table Wine for the marinade and for drinking with the meal. I purchased it at Kermit Lynch about 5 years ago and it was delicious.
This makes a great low-glycemic meal for two or three people allowing 2 skewers apiece.
I'd like to extend my appreciation to the American Lamb Board for their Summer Grilling Kit and thank them for this opportunity to showcase lamb, one of my favorite meats.

Copyright © 2005-2007, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved