Middle Eastern Lamb Kebabs
These kebabs, a popular item at Zaytinya Restaurant in Washington DC, require minimal effort and result in extraordinary flavor; the marination does all of the work by infusing taste while it simultaneously tenderizes the meat. The heady flavors and grilled bits make the kebabs ideal to serve with pita bread and tzatziki sauce.
What to buy: We used 8 to 10 (10-inch) wooden skewers, but you can also use stainless steel skewers if you have them.
Although you may be tempted to buy precut lamb “stew” meat, it will most likely be from the shoulder and not as tasty as leg of lamb. It is worth the extra few minutes to cut it up yourself or have it butchered for you.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup whole milk plain yogurt
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning the meat
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning the meat
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 1/2 pounds leg of lamb meat, trimmed of fat, tendons, and gristle and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 8 to 10 (10-inch) wooden or metal skewers
1Place all ingredients except lamb in a large, nonreactive bowl and whisk to combine. Add lamb and toss until thoroughly coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours or up to 24 hours.
2Remove lamb from refrigerator and let come to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, if using wooden skewers, soak in water at least 30 minutes before using.
3Heat grill or seasoned grill pan to medium heat. Meanwhile, thread each skewer with 5 to 6 pieces of lamb, separating pieces by about 1 inch. Season lamb skewers with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Coat the grill with a thin layer of oil, and grill skewers to desired doneness, about 10 minutes total for medium, turning as needed so they cook evenly. Remove from grill and serve.
Beverage pairing: Wynns Coonawarra Estate Shiraz, Australia. With the savory, earthy, spiced lamb, something full and fruity would make for a tasty match. Australian Shiraz, with its deep blueberry and blackberry, is a good call. This one has a layer of spice that will find harmony with the lamb.
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