Lamb Shish Kabob with Wheat Pita and Tzatziki Sauce
posted by Kalyn Denny on July 17, 2007
Recently I was trying to remember the first time I ever tasted lamb, and decided it must have been in college when I used to work at Le Parisien Restaurant in downtown Salt Lake, where we would occasionally have rack of lamb as a special. We certainly never had it at home when I was growing up. Whenever it was, from the time I first tried it lamb has always been my favorite red meat.
Every one of the South Beach Diet cookbooks has a couple of recipes for lamb, even though South Beach recommends limiting saturated fat and lamb can have a lot of fat. If I’m eating in a fabulous restaurant and I order lamb, that’s definitely a time where I’ll forget about the fat content and enjoy the food. But if I’m cooking lamb at home, I’ll trim off quite a bit of the fat, and then marinate the lamb in a marinade with olive oil, like I did recently when I cooked Grilled Lamb Chops. Do leave a bit of the fat though because lamb fat has so much flavor.
I’m not always partial to Shish Kabobs with different types of meats and veggies combined on a skewer, because things cook at different rates. However three vegetables I will use on a skewer with meat are red onions, bell peppers, or zucchini. Those seem to cook at about the same rate meat does, and in this case even though we cooked the lamb medium rare, the pieces of red onion were perfectly tender-crisp when the kabobs were done.
When you make kabobs it’s important to fold over each piece of meat so the skewer is piercing it in at least two places. The other thing that matters is to push the pieces of meat and vegetables as tightly together as you can. These two things keep the pieces of meat from spinning on the skewer so you can turn the kabobs to get all sides done. Use large tongs for turning kabobs, and turn them several times while they’re cooking.
Of course, you’ve already figured out that this is what I served with the Tzatziki Sauce made by my good friend Georgette, haven’t you? These lamb Shish-Kabobs and Georgette’s Tzatziki made a great combination.
Lamb Shish Kabobs with Wheat Pita and Tzatziki Sauce
(Makes 3-4 servings, recipe created by Kalyn with inspiration from many sources.)
1-2 lbs. leg of lamb, trimmed and cut into pieces 1 1/2 inches square
1 or 2 large red onions, cut into pieces 1 1/2 inches square
1/2 onion, very finely chopped
2 tsp. garlic puree or minced fresh garlic
1 tsp. dried Greek or Turkish oregano (not Mexican oregano)
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika (or use regular paprika if you don’t have the smoked kind)
1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
2 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil, plus more to brush kabobs
Trim most, but not all the fat from the lamb and cut into cubes 1 1/2 inches square. Place lamb pieces in large Ziploc bag.
In food processor with steel blade, blend together the onion, garlic, and oregano, rosemary, cumin, paprika, and black pepper. Add lemon juice and pulse a few times until well combined. Take off processor lid, pour in olive oil and stir together.
Pour marinade into Ziploc bag with lamb cubes and marinate in the refrigerator 4-8 hours.
When ready to cook, remove bag from refrigerator, put a colander in the sink and pour lamb cubes into colander. Rinse off marinade with warm water and let lamb drain while it comes to room temperature. When lamb is at room temperature, preheat gas or charcoal grill to high, then thread lamb pieces and onions onto skewers as shown above, making sure to fold over each piece of meat so it gets pierced twice with the skewer, and pushing ingredients tightly together. Put assembled kabobs on a tray and brush both sides with olive oil.
Put skewers on grill and lower heat slightly to medium high. (You may not need to do that, depending on how hot your grill gets.) Grill kabobs 8-9 minutes for medium rare, 9-10 for medium and 10-11 for well done. (Actual cooking time will depend on how hot your grill is and how big the lamb pieces are. I recommend using an instant-read meat thermometer to tell when the meat is done. Lamb should be 145 for medium rare, 160 for medium and 170 for well-done.) Serve hot with Tzatziki Sauce and whole wheat pita bread if desired.