Shish kebab is a fun food. You eat it with bread and make little bites from its component parts: this bite with onion, that one with tomato, a third with both. It's an easy dish for festive dinner parties; just put the skewers on the grill about 15 minutes before you are ready to eat.
You'll need 8 long wooden skewers, which should be soaked for 30 minutes to 1 hour before using.
Make Ahead: For tenderness and flavor, marinate the lamb in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours and up to 18. Thread the kebabs on the skewers an hour or two before serving, covering them with plastic wrap or aluminum foil while they come to room temperature.
Servings: 6 - 8
- For the marinade
- 2-pound boneless lamb leg or shoulder, trimmed of fat and cut into thirty-two 1 1/4-inch chunks
- 8 cloves garlic, chopped
- Freshly squeezed juice of 2 limes (2 to 3 tablespoons)
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, thoroughly rinsed, then coarsely chopped
- 1/2 medium onion, cut into approximately 1/2-inch chunks
- For the kebabs
- 16 (peeled) pearl onions
- 16 cherry or teardrop tomatoes
- 4 serrano peppers, cut in half lengthwise and seeded
Place the lamb chunks in a large resealable plastic food storage bag. Add the garlic, lime juice, salt, pepper, oil, cilantro and onion. Seal the bag, pressing out as much air as you can, and massage it to evenly distribute the marinade. Refrigerator for at least 8 hours, turning the bag once or twice.
An hour or two before serving, prepare the kebabs. Remove the lamb from the marinade and use paper towels to pat it dry; discard the marinade. Thread a chunk of lamb on a skewer, then a pearl onion, then lamb, then a tomato. Repeat, using 4 lamb chunks per skewer. Add half of a serrano pepper to the end of each skewer. Repeat the process to fill all the skewers.
About an hour before you want to cook, prepare the grill for direct heat. If using a gas grill, preheat to medium-high (450 degrees). If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal or wood briquettes; when the briquettes are ready, distribute them under the cooking area for direct heat. For a medium-hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for about 4 or 5 seconds. Have ready a spray water bottle for taming any flames. Lightly coat the grill rack with oil and place it on the grill.
Grill the kebabs uncovered on each of the 4 sides for 3 to 5 minutes (medium-rare). The vegetables should be lightly charred. Transfer the kebabs to a platter to rest for about 5 minutes before serving.
From Smoke Signals columnist Jim Shahin.
Tested by Jeffrey Donald.
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