Do you remember My Big Fat Greek Wedding and the scene where Tula’s family is roasting a lamb on a spit in their front yard? Well, that’s not too far off from my family. Ok, we’re not Greek and we don’t cook dinner on the lawn, but growing up, lamb was a constant at our family meals and celebrations. Which is why these Grilled Herb-Crusted Lamb Kebabs are like second nature to me.
As a child, I remember my paternal grandmother, Myne, fixing leg of lamb for Easter. Hers was always a bit too done for my tastes, but as long as there were mashed potatoes and gravy, I wasn’t complaining.
My maternal grandmother, Madou, made lamb for Christmas. It was loaded with garlic and roasted to a burnished finish outside, while sporting a pink interior. My grandfather helped out with a simple, vinegar-spiked au jus.
Uncle Frank cooks his lamb over an open flame. Mom has been known to butterfly and stuff her lamb. For me, lamb chops and rack of lamb are the default menu item when I don’t know what to fix for company.
During the summer months, I go for minimum fuss and maximum flavor with my lamb which means an intense herb and garlic marinade, a few hours to soak up the flavors and a good sear on the Weber! There’s nothing better!
If you’re thinking that lamb is too expensive to be an everyday cut, I hear you. At my local Publix, they had an organic leg of lamb for $42 — ouch! But when I asked the butcher for 1 1/2 pounds of lamb chunks that I could use to kebab, he took the same leg of lamb, trimmed it to perfect 2″ cubes and handed me a package that read $7.46. Not too shabby! And he did all the work.
After the meat has soaked up the flavors of the marinade, heat the grill while you thread the chunks of lamb onto the skewers. Note, if you’re using wooden skewers, make sure you soak them for an hour before making the kebabs — otherwise, they’ll burn on the grill.
A medium hot grill, about 450° – 500° will sear the outside and cook the interior to a perfect medium rare. Don’t fiddle with the meat too much — let the grill do the work. Flip it about 4-5 minutes after it goes on and watch for flare ups. It shouldn’t take more than 8-12 minutes to cook, depending on how you like it.
Lamb kebabs scream SUMMER – and since we’re in the final weeks, it’s time to make the most of it. Try these kebabs with this simple cracked wheat salad, a savory pilaf or farm fresh zucchini boats and this super-easy and eyes-rolling-back-in-your-head-good Apricot Tart.
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
- 5 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper
- zest of one lemon
- 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 1/2 pounds lamb, cut into 2" pieces (my butcher cut it for me from a leg of lamb.)
- In a large bowl, combine the rosemary, mint, parsley, oregano, garlic, salt, pepper, lemon zest, red pepper flakes and olive oil. Mix to combine. Add the lamb chunks and toss until well coated. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
- Preheat the grill to a medium high heat (about 450°).
- Loosely thread the chunks of lamb onto skewers - they should touch but not be jammed together. Grill for 8-10 minutes for medium rare, turning once or twice during the cooking. Remove from heat and let the kebabs rest for 5-7 minutes before serving.
- If using wooden skewers, soak them in water for an hour before skewering the meat, so that the skewers don't burn.